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Updated Up To 18/01/2017
Volume 11, Issue 2 (June 2013) : 219-31
Sartre Recounts a Childhood Story
The Case of Genet
Rony Klein
Rubric A: Literature and Philosophy
Rubric B: French Literature


In Saint Genet, Actor and Martyr, Sartre tells the story of the writer Jean Genet. He does it from the presuppositions he developed in his major philosophical book, Being and Nothingness, where he presented man as a free being acting in specific situations but always able to surmount the given by decisions of his own. Nevertheless, Sartre describes the story of the orphan Genet as it begins in childhood with the accusation of theft made by his adopted parents and by the adults of the village where he had been sent. This accusation turns out to be traumatic. Genet will actually become a thief later, and a writer of theft and crime. It thus determines his entire life. By telling this story, Sartre himself puts his basic ideas to the test, and has to admit that events which occurred in childhood influence and determine our life. Sartre the philosopher of freedom is thus challenged by Sartre the writer of existence.     

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