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Existentialism and Excess

The Life and Times of Jean-Paul Sartre
By: Gary Cox
Narrated by: Matt Addis
Length: 8 hrs and 27 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (57 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Jean-Paul Sartre is one of the undisputed giants of 20th-century philosophy. His intellectual writings popularizing existentialism, combined with his creative and artistic flair, have made him a legend of French thought. His tumultuous personal life - so inextricably bound up with his philosophical thinking - is a fascinating tale of love and lust, drug abuse, high-profile fallings-out and political and cultural rebellion.

This substantial and meticulously researched biography is accessible, fast paced, entertaining, often amusing and at times deeply moving. Existentialism and Excess covers all the main events of Sartre's remarkable 75-year life, from his early years as a precocious brat devouring his grandfather's library through his time as a brilliant student in Paris, his wilderness years as a provincial teacher-writer experimenting with mescaline, his World War II adventures as a POW and member of the resistance, his postwar politicization, his immense amphetamine-fuelled feats of writing productivity, his harem of women, his many travels and his final decline into blindness and old age.

Along the way there are countless intriguing anecdotes, some amusing, some tragic, some controversial: his loathing of crustaceans and belief that he was being pursued by a giant lobster; his escape from a POW camp; his many affairs; his meetings with Roosevelt, Hemingway, John Huston, Mao, Castro, Che Guevara, Khrushchev, and Tito; his feuds with Aron, Camus, and Merleau-Ponty; the bombing of his apartment; his influence on the May 1968 uprising; his long and complex relationship with Simone de Beauvoir.

Existentialism and Excess also gives serious consideration to his ideas and many philosophical works, novels, stories, plays and biographies, revealing their intimate connections with his personal life. An entertaining, thought-provoking and compulsive book, much like the man himself.

©2016 Gary Cox (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

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  • Greg
  • WOODINVILLE, WA
  • 02-24-19

wanting to learn more!

not poignant, however a clear world historical narrative during the sartre years. a really unique figure.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Magnus
  • Arendal, Norway Norway
  • 07-14-17

thank you for a great exposition of Sartres life

Except for a bad allusion between Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre's powerful relationship to Hillary and Bill Clinton, whereby one links Sartre absurdly to the corrupt political mileu of the 2010-s.

0 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Justice Peace
  • 10-12-16

Excellent audiobook

Beautifully read and packed with interesting detail about the life, thoughts and works of JPS. It's great that the author and the narrator have created this wonderful audiobook! Thanks!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Cavegirl
  • 12-06-16

A Good Insight for the Novice

I briefly touched upon Satre during my degree and always wanted to find out more about him, his life and his work. This is a very informative and engaging read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Polly
  • 11-22-16

Accessible Sartre doesn't have to be an oxymoron

What did you like most about Existentialism and Excess?

I love the way Gary Cox writes; it helps me to hold on to and even understand some very complex ideas, at least for a while.
"Existentialism and Excess: The life and times of Jean Paul Sartre" is a chronological romp through Sartre's life and provides background, depth and context to Sartre's wrtings and philosophies.
Matt Addiss's reading is superb, he gets the timing spot on and his voice is rich, varied and easy on the ears.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The young Sartre is by far my favouritie I got a sense of integrity, joy and liberation

Which character – as performed by Matt Addis – was your favourite?

Not really applicable

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

It has one already!

Any additional comments?

I have also got this book in print, it makes it so much easier for writing in the margins

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Robertas
  • 11-26-18

Surprised

I was not expecting to find Sayre to be so interesting of a personality. Read it if you love scandalous people.

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  • Mr Simon W D Borland
  • 06-22-18

detailed and fascinating, it is very well done

I enjoyed this excellent biography very much and will listen again. well written and narrated.

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  • paul
  • 12-19-17

great

really enjoyed it.
the writer has a good understanding of his philosophy + lit not just biographical stuff.
well narrated too.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-25-17

Entertaining,enlightening,enjoyable, existential.

If not essential. As a dilettante I found this helpful to contextualise and picture Sartre.