JEAN-PAUL SARTRE IS A MAN WHO LIVED half his life in the limelight of
extreme notoriety. An intellectual who already in 1945 had to protest against attempts aimed at institutionalizing the writer, turning his works into “national goods,” for which he had to exclaim: “it is not pleasant to be treated in one’s lifetime as a public monument.”2
What must be equally unpleasant is to be constantly subjected to abuse.And the fact is that no writer in his lifetime has been the target of so many attacks, from the most varied and rather powerful quarters, as Jean-Paul Sartre.What are the reasons? How should we approach the work of this man,our contemporary?
This landmark book, first published in1979, met acclaim as a doubly
important work of radical philosophy. Its subject, Jean-Paul Sartre,was among the twentieth century’s most controversial and influential philosophers; its author, István Mészáros, was himself establishing a reputation for profound contributions to the Marxist tradition, which would continue into the next century. The Work of Sartre was thus considered essential for its insights on Sartre and as a piece of Mészáros’s developing politico-philosophical project.
In this completely updated and expanded volume, Mészáros examines the manifold aspects of Sartre’s legacy-as novelist,playwright, philosopher, and political actor-and in so doing casts
light on the entire oeuvre, situating it within the historical and social
contexts of Sartre’s time. Although critical of aspects of Sartre’s
philosophy, Mészáros celebrates his unyielding commitment to the
struggle against the power of capital, and elucidates what this means for the individual in the search for freedom.
István Mészáros is a world-renowned philosopher and critic. He left
his native Hungary after the Soviet invasion of 1956. He is professor
emeritus at the University of Sussex, where he held the chair of philosophy for fifteen years. Among his many books are Social Structure and Forms of Consciousness Volumes I and II, and Beyond Capital: Toward a Theory of Transition.