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Jean-Paul Sartre

As a teenage existentialist in the 1970s, I feasted on Sartre. He had already become unfashionable in Paris, but now, on the centenary of his birth, France is coming to appreciate him again

By Kevin Jackson   July 2005

Confessions of a teenage existentialist: back in the early 1970s, when my mates and I were all revving up for A-levels, Jean-Paul Sartre was, simply, the most famous of all living philosophers, and just about the most famous of all proper, serious writers. He was inevitable, compulsory, ubiquitous. You didn’t even have to be a swot to have a fairly good idea of who he was, since BBC2 had just devoted 13 solid hours of prime-time viewing to its dramatisation of the Roads to Freedom trilogy. (Thinkable nowadays?) The Monty Python gang performed a Sartre sketch and for weeks afterwards,…

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