As Neil Levy writes:
To clarify this statement it must be recalled that an important tenet of existentialism is that each of us is in a particular situation.
We are rich or poor, black or white, healthy or sick, and so forth. Within this situation we have freedom of action and our acts are all-important since they will determine our essence. Equally important is how we are seen, in that situation which is ours, by those around us the Others, in the existentialist vocabulary.
For it is only through the Others that we may be able to realize what we are. Will he accept his situation, and that means, primarily, will he accept himself as the Others see him, or will he react against it and seek to change the image that the Others have of him?
This choice, the original choice, is not one which is made once for all. For if one chooses to be what the Others have decided he is, one must at all times reject, or modify, actions that might change that image….
The tragedy is that none of us is ever satisfied with the image the Others have of us.
There is, furthermore, another existentialist doctrine that we must remember here: It is only at death that it becomes solid, unchangeable. The latter will not fully know, therefore, what he is until he has ceased to be—which means that he will never know.
Thus Jean-Paul Sartre, literary critic, seeks first to find the original choice made by the individual whose works he is examining.
The words he uses, the way he uses them, the images he creates, the repetitions, the verb tenses, all these reveal much to a practiced eye. Then the process is reversed and from the original choice Sartre now works outward to the novel or the poem the genre is unimportant to Sartre in order to show how that novel or poem reflects the original choice.
This method, which has been adopted by several contemporary critics, ignores what had previously been considered the main concern of the critic, namely, the specifically literary aspect of literature.
It makes the task of the critic much more exacting, since he must no longer be content to look at a work of art from the outside, much as one contemplates a statue in a museum, but rather from the inside. Of these two maudits the first, Baudelaire, has assumed in the eyes of the public the image of an unhappy, tormented and persecuted genius who led a life he did not deserve.
The second is known more prosaically as a thief, an ex-convict and a sexual deviate, who fully deserved his misfortunes and who is but grudgingly recognized as an artist….
In truth, he was not a revolutionary, simply a rebel. The difference between the two is fundamental. Whereas the revolutionary seeks to change the world and to bring it to a new order of values, the rebel is careful to preserve the wrongs through which he suffers, else he would have nothing against which to rebel….
On the contrary, he chose the life he led deliberately….In keeping with the uncategorical blend of poetry, fiction and history often privileged by the twentieth-century's representation of painful experiences, this essay posits Sartre's text Baudelaire as a hybrid ‘essay’ of the three: historic fiction with poetry as its target.
Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. The essay was originally written as an introduction to M. Sartre's own selections from Baudelaire's diaries and letters.
It will be apparent from the first page that it is an Existentialist study, and it occupies a special place in its author's work.5/5(1). Sartre discerns the attitude of an homme penché in Baudelaire's demeanor, and alleges that the poet's greatness is based on a philosophical fraud, that is, the poet's desire to be other than others.
As numerous critics have remarked, Sartre's argument appears to be theoretically sound. Full text of "Sartre, Jean Paul Literary And Philosophical Essays (Collier, )" See other formats. Sartre discerns the attitude of an homme penché in Baudelaire's demeanor, and alleges that the poet's greatness is based on a philosophical fraud, that is, the poet's desire to be other than others.
As numerous critics have remarked, Sartre's argument appears to be theoretically sound.