Saturday, December 31, 2016

"At The Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails" by Sarah Bakewell

ISBN: 978-159051488-7 Other Press
The existentialist thought has been around forever.   We didn't have a name for it, but clearly, the issue of the importance of a commitment is something one shouldn't take lightly.   In a flash thought, when we (meaning us mortals on planet America) hear the word existentialism, we think of Jean-Paul Sartre.   Clearly, he's the figurehead, but the roots of that thought go back to Nazi-loving Martin Heidegger, and of course, Søren Kierkegaard.   In other words, it's an endless depth in a lake or pool in one's consciousness with respect to who, how, and why we came to the subject matter of existentialism.  



Sarah Bakewell's "At The Existentialist Café" is a very good in-depth read on the subject matter of Sartre and others such as Simone de Beauvoir, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, as well as Albert Camus, Boris Vian and the underrated Maurice Merleau-Ponty.  On the latter, Bakewell seems to be the most pleased with as a personality (he liked dancing and the social nightlife) and his work as a philosopher.   



Bakewell knows her territory well, and this is an extremely well-researched book on not only the writings that came out by these super-smart individuals but also capturing the time and anxiety of the 20th century.   A book for someone who knows nothing of the subject matter as well as one who's a fan of the Existentialist writer.   She never dumbs down the information, yet this book is written for the masses who are curious about the culture around Sartre and friends.   The arguments, the battles, and the friendship are all displayed on these pages.   A very good book. 





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