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The War Diaries Book Review Summary

Detailed Plot Synopsis of The War Diaries

The title of this book is a little misleading, for the entries date from 1939-40, before the war in France really heated up. Sartre saw no action during this period (he was in his early 30s), but he WAS in military service on the front during the "phony war." Mostly, he had a lot of time to think and write. He worked on some of the foundations for _Being and Nothingness_ and existential theory in general, so there's some of that here, but this is a surprisingly HUMAN document. Sartre writes of his insecurities ("In relation to Gauguin, Van Gogh and Rimbaud, I have a distinct inferiority complex because they managed to destroy themselves"; "It's true, I'm not authentic ... I am nothing but pride and lucidity"); his love of women and burning desire for beauty -- to be IN something beautiful; total failure at friendships with men, save for what he termed women-men ("an extremely rare species, standing out from the rest thanks to their physical charm or sometimes beauty, and to a host of inner riches which the common run of men know nothing of ... I'm a woman-man myself, I think, for all my ugliness"). Sometimes he is intellectually flip ("I would condemn someone definitively for a linguistic mannerism, but not because I'd seen him murder his mother"), and sometimes simple and sincere ("A day begun with a breakfast is a lucky day"). Above all, he broods on the nature of freedom and authenticity. A much more accessible work than much of his fiction or polished essays.
This report prepared by David Loftus








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Chapter Analysis of The War Diaries

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Plot & Themes

job/profession:    -   writer Ethnic/Relig. of subject (inside)    -   French Job/profession/poverty story    -   Yes Ethnic/regional/gender    -   Yes Pal/friendship story    -   Yes

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   writer Ethnicity    -   White Nationality    -   French

Setting

How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   2 () Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   France Small town?    -   Yes Misc setting    -   fort/military installation Century:    -   1930's-1950's

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   thoughtful How much dialogue in bio?    -   little dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   0-25% of book

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Jean-Paul Sartre Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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