Monday, February 14, 2011

Week 6: Words, by Jean-Paul Sartre

The intense book cover is a preview of the tone of the story inside. This autobiographical work focuses on Sartre’s early childhood. To be commended is the level of detail Sartre achieves when revisiting his thoughts and feelings at that age. The reader almost feels as if the book was in fact written by a child at certain times. Sartre’s relationship with his family is interesting in the sense that he never seems to love them fully and completely. It’s as if his over-analysis of every single aspect of his life hinders his ability to truly bond with them. The entire book is saturated with deep self-reflection. Sometimes this can be enthralling – especially, I found, when he doubts and criticizes himself in the same way that I think most people do from time to time. In other times, it’s annoying because it is so self-indulgent. But I suppose that calling Sartre self-indulgent would be akin to calling Britney Spears too mainstream. It is what it is. Sartre as a boy simply wants to be loved and wants to be the center of attention at all times. I guess that isn’t any different than what many children want, but reading an entire book of this spurred a lot of eye-rolling.


  1. Reminds me of the book 'Words' by J-PS, translated in English, I read some 55 years back. So strong were the contents that even today, at 75, I
    remember how brazenly he had given his observations as a child. An unforgetable read; a rare style, indeed.