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PHL lecture, mar. 20.doc

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Peter King

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Sartre: Life Without a Break • Sartre’s No Exit was written in occupied Paris and first produced in 1944, a year after the publication of Being and Nothingness o One act play with a single scene, unfolding in real time o Underline the situation faced by the characters, who are with each other all the time  Garcin: “life without a break”  The conditions of No Exit are just those of everyday life. Distilled and purified  Directed to this life, in particular to what goes wrong with lives that are not ‘authentic’ • Wrote the play to engage a broad audience and pose for them, in a dramatic way, the problem to live well o Does this by showing how it is people fail to live well, and implicitly why they fail to live well  Existentialism is a Humanism: if people condemn our works of fiction, in which we describe characters that are base, weak, cowardly and sometime even frankly evil, it is not only because those characters are base, weak, cowardly or evil… the existentialist, when he portrays a coward, show him as responsible for his cowardice… he is like that because he has made himself into a coward by actions… A coward is defined by the deed that he has done. What people feel obscurely, and with horror, is that the coward as we present him is guilty of being a coward o For Sartre, who we are or more precisely who a given person is, is a function of that person’s choice, indeed their choice at the current moment; it is a choice of values that is freely made in light of the recognition that we cannot evade responsibility for our choices, which are essentially ungrounded o Raw freedom is what Sartre’s characters want to avoid • 3 main characters, match one another perfectly in their bad faith, each needing to live through the others somehow o Joseph Garcin  Journalist, executed by firing squad when trying to leave Brazil to set up an opposition pacifist newspaper  Married, but a philanderer  Concern
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