The French writer and philosopher Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre was born on June 21, 1905 as the son of a naval officer in Paris. Sartre spent his childhood in La Rochelle, after his German-Alsatian mother had remarried following the pre-mature death of his father.
From 1924 to 1928 the young Sartre attended the Paris Lyceum Henri IV. The following years he read psychology, philosophy and sociology at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and in 1929 received the permission to teach philosophy at the university.
During this time, the friendship between Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir grew and they became partners.
From 1931 to 1934 he worked as a grammar school teacher in Le Havre. In 1934 he received a scholarship from the Institut Francais in Berlin, where he mainly studied the philosophies of Nietzsche, Heidegger and Husserl. Four years later he published his novel "Nausea".
In 1939 Sartre was drafted into the military as a paramedic, was captured and put into a prisoner-of-war camp, from which he was released in March 1941 due to an eye complaint. That same year Jean-Paul Sartre published his first and important piece "Being and Nothingness".
Since the publication of this piece, Sartre has been considered the main French exponent of atheist Existentialism. Until 1944 Sartre taught philosophy in Paris and actively contributed to the French Résistance fighting the German occupation. His play "The Flies" premiered in occupied Paris in 1942. The following year he became a member of the "Comité National des Ecrivains" (C.N.E.), which entertained very close links to the French Résistance. From 1944 Jean-Paul Sartre worked for the journal "Combat", founded by Albert Camus, and one year later became a freelance writer in Paris, where he set up the political and literary journal "Les Temps Modernes".
His famous and most successful play "Die schmutzigen Hände", in which he dealt with the contradiction between morals and politics, premiered in 1948.
The Vatican put Jean-Paul Sartre's works on the black list, because they said "the faithful must be spared dangerous doubts". He was politically active and in 1948 became a co-founder of a short-lived new party located between socialists and communists.
In 1950 he ended up on the side of Communism, which lead to a breach with some moderate left-wing intellectuals. In 1956 Sartre turned his back on Communism, as he disapproved of the brutal Russian intervention in Hungary.
During the time of the "May Revolution" in 1968, he temporarily stood up for the issues of radical left-wing student groups.
His second most important philosophical work "Critique of Dialectical Reason" was published in 1959.
In 1965 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and published the first part of his memoirs entitled "The Words". For "personal and objective" reasons Sartre refused the Nobel Prize, which did not, however, influence the jury's decision. From 1973 to 1974 he lead the left-wing paper "Libération".
In that year he also visited the German terrorist Andreas Baader in prison in Stuttgart-Stammheim. On the occasion of his 70th birthday, the world's press dedicated numerous articles to Jean-Paul Sartre's oeuvre.
In 1976 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Jean-Paul Sartre died in Paris on April 15, 1980.