From Library Journal
Barnes first made Sartre and the French Existentialist movement available to American readers with her translation of Being and Nothingness (1956). Here she provides an engaging autobiography that spans not only her self-identified period of "flourishing" (1948-86) but virtually all the 20th century. With the clarifying approach she has brought to her scholarly works (e.g., Sartre and Flaubert, LJ 9/1/81), she reveals her autobiography as "a faithful copy of the 'I' that my consciousness formed." Barnes begins her story with her immediate ancestors (British and Danish, at home in small-town Pennsylvania, where the author was born in 1915) and progresses through childhood, college (where she became a Classicist), her professional career (which included Ohio State University and the University of Colorado), and her relationships with colleagues, students, prisoners, and her female companion of 40 years. This stellar work belongs in all libraries.?Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley P.L., Cal.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
The translation of Sartre's Being and Nothingness into English in 1955 was the first and perhaps most notable achievement of Barnes's long and scholarly career, on which she reflects in this autobiography. In tracing her career, she provides critical insight into the evolution of her own embrace of existentialism, the acceptance of challenge as the fertile ground of individual choice, as well as ``the experience of women who chose to pursue careers in the period between Virginia Woolf and Betty Friedan.'' Barnes traces her early fundamentalist Christian background and the way in which it naturally led to her interest in philosophy and ethics. This existentialist autobiography expresses her life as the natural outcome of an ongoing involvement with a philosophy that spoke not only to contemporary issues (racism, existential feminism, the right to die) but also to her own need to decry cynicism, to designate ``a legitimate goal for ethics,'' to exalt in what Sartre saw as the right to difference as one of the ingredients of commonality. Barnes describes poignantly the important intellectual trends that have captivated academia over the last four decades. With acrobatic flexibility, she expounds on Sartre and de Beauvoir, on deconstruction, on teaching as a career, and on life in Boulder, Colo. Her views of today's students are insightful, and her humane reflections on relationships (gay and otherwise) and aging are soothing, considering how far into the storm of philosophical life she has gazed. Barnes challenged every aspect of the life expected of her. She never married and has had a single female companion for most of her adult life. She has lived intimately with the universal questions of our century without losing sight of the stuff of daily life. While often overly detailed and at times academic, her autobiography does provide an intimate record of our times and of the ongoing issues that challenge us to define ourselves over and over again. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.