Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980)

French philosopher, novelist, playwright, critic, and political activist. Sartre was born in Paris and earned his doctorate in philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure. While serving as a provincial schoolmaster, he produced a flood of philosophical essays and seminal works, such as the novel Nausea (1938) and the short story collection The Wall (1939), which embodied the philosophy of radical freedom Sartre called existentialism. Described by the New York Times as “a rebel of a thousand causes, a modern Don Quixote,” Sartre was a major force in the intellectual life of post–World War II Europe, and existentialism influenced generations of artists and thinkers. Steadfastly independent, Sartre refused the Nobel Prize for literature in 1964. His major works include the plays The Flies (1943) and No Exit (1944), as well as the essays Being and Nothingness (1943) and Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960). See also sartre.org.