Literary Birthday – 21 June – Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre was born 21 June 1905, and died 15 April 1980.


  1. Words are loaded pistols.
  2. The aim of language…is to communicate…to impart to others the results one has obtained…As I talk, I reveal the situation…I reveal it to myself and to others in order to change it.
  3. Like all dreamers I confuse disenchantment with truth.
  4. For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it.
  5. Everything has been figured out, except how to live.
  6. Hell is other people.
  7. I found the human heart empty and insipid everywhere except in books.
  8. She believed in nothing; only her scepticism kept her from being an atheist.
  9. All that I know about my life, it seems, I have learned in books.
  10. The best work is not what is most difficult for you; it is what you do best.
  11. Existence is an imperfection.
  12. If literature isn’t everything, it’s not worth a single hour of someone’s trouble.
  13. But the operation of writing implies that of reading as its dialectical correlative and these two connected acts necessitate two distinct agents. It is the joint effort of author and reader, which brings upon the scene that concrete and imaginary object which is the work of the mind. There is no art except for and by others.
  14. There may be more beautiful times, but this one is ours.
  15. We are our choices.

Jean-Paul Sartre was a French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of  the leading figures in 20th-century French philosophy. He was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature and refused it, saying that he always declined official honours and that “a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution”. He is the author of Nausea.

Source for image: ; Moshe Milner, CC BY 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 21st June 2013