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No Exit and Three Other Plays

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4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  26,557 Ratings  ·  656 Reviews
In these four plays, Jean-Paul Sartre, the great existentialist novelist and philosopher, displays his mastery of drama. NO EXIT is an unforgettable portrayal of hell. THE FLIES is a modern reworking of the Electra-Orestes story. DIRTY HANDS is about a young intellectual torn between theory and praxis. THE RESPECTFUL PROSTITUTE is an attack on American racism.
Paperback, 275 pages
Published October 23rd 1989 by Vintage (first published 1947)
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Best Philosophical Literature
55th out of 728 books — 2,244 voters
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18th out of 268 books — 473 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sketchbook
Jun 09, 2015 Sketchbook rated it liked it
Hell is not other people. Hell is any holiday dinner with relatives.

Fashionable in the 50s, and still required reading in prep schools and many colleges, Sartre's play - once ventilated - is a discursive product of Dada and Existentialism mixed with Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and a lot of Pernod. In the mid-40s it made him the darling of the boozoisie in Montparnasse. Actually, he was inspired by Wedekind and Strindberg. An interesting thinker, Sarte here overlooks his own contradictions : though
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Cassandra Kay Silva
Jan 30, 2011 Cassandra Kay Silva rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theatre, philosophy
I am surprised no one said much about the piece "Dirty Hands" since it was terribly interesting and took up a great deal of this book. Though I love No exit and think that the punch line was both clever and well developed I think that Dirty Hands was by far a more enjoyable work. It was extremely clever, the wit was harsh. The characters manipulative and yet humorously negatable. The deep political messages, the thoughts surrounding "purity of political ideals". For some reason I can just better ...more
Laura
Sartre has very good ideas. I love reading Theatre of the Absurd. Existence precedes essence. Three damned souls are brought to hell by a mysterious valet, but it's not what they expected. Sartre depicts hell as a Second Empire style room in bad taste, not fire and torture devices. I love this idea!!! Garcin, Inez, and Estelle torture each other with judgement since they have nothing in common, and they are unlikeable. "Hell is other people" means that judgement is eternal punishment. I found it ...more
Leonard
Jun 07, 2014 Leonard rated it really liked it
“Hell is other people.” What if hell is not an inferno but being trapped in a room with people who judge and condemn you? In Sartre’s play No Exit, three condemned souls must stay with each other for all eternity, watching, condemning, torturing one another. Garcin seeks understanding from Inez for deserting the army but only receives her judgment. Estelle, who killed her newborn baby and caused her lover to commit suicide, seeks Garcin’s affection to define who she is, but only receives his snu ...more
Madeline
Nov 10, 2009 Madeline rated it it was amazing
Shelves: assigned-reading
A brief one-act that seems much longer than it really is. Alternately horrible and funny, it's Sartre's take on Hell, which can be described as such: a small hotel room with no windows or mirrors, a door that is usually locked, and three couches. Three people - Garcin, Ines, and Estelle - are all brought to this room by what I can only guess is a bellboy. (I read this in French, so forgive any factual errors that I missed as a reult of that) Everyone keeps asking, "Where's the torturer?" because ...more
Lotz
Jun 15, 2016 Lotz rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
For me, this little collection gets by purely on the strength of the title play alone. No Exit is a terrific little work. The concept is clever and simple, and the execution first-rate. And in addition to being impressed by Sartre’s abilities as a playwright, I was also surprised that the message wasn’t the vague banality I had expected it to be.

As everyone knows, this play ends with a punchline: hell is other people. Now, I had expected this to mean simply that being around other people is awf
...more
Adeline
Mar 02, 2009 Adeline rated it it was amazing
Jean Paul Sartre uses hell for the setting of his existentially significant work, No Exit. While Sartre is an atheist, he uses a place that is fundamentally connected to Christian beliefs. Yet Sartre's hell is vastly dissimilar to the Christian conception of hell, and makes no reference to a God or Satan. Ultimately, the hell in No Exit serves the same purpose as a Christian hell: to torment and torture. The methods used are different, but the result is the same. In fact, Sartre's hell is more i ...more
Edward
Mar 08, 2015 Edward rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
--The Respectable Prostitute
--Lucifer and the Lord
--Huis Clos
Erik Graff
Jan 29, 2012 Erik Graff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sartre fans
Recommended to Erik by: friends
Shelves: drama
Sartre was marginally popular with some high school friends, particularly his novel, Nausea, and play, No Exit. I started the former at a boring party at Bill Causer's home at the Park Ridge School for Girls one night, but didn't get far. I didn't relate to the paranoid attitude and put it down. Years later, his Being and Nothingness was assigned--same attitude, but this time an obligation to complete the thing.

Some time towards the end of high school I gave Sartre another chance. I'd enjoyed Ca
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Celine
Huis Clos and Other Plays holds three plays: The Respectable Prostitute, Lucifer and the Lord, and Huis Clos.

The Respectable Prostitute was interesting, though a bit simplistic. Sartre is very much into ethical responsibility, and the prostitute in this play only wants to do the right thing. In true essentialist fashion she is faced with an impossible situation which has no "good answer", and the end result is pretty depressing.

Speaking of depressing, next up is Lucifer and the Lord. This play i
...more
thewanderingjew
Aug 22, 2011 thewanderingjew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When a friend asked if I had seen the play or the movie based on Sartre's "No Exit", my curiosity was piqued. I searched online and found a version I could read. In this brief one-act play, Sartre illuminates the human condition and the consequences of behavior. Actions often taken lightly, reverberate and leave disaster in their wake. The three main characters are dead. In life, they were each, in their own way, responsible for a tragic ending. They are now in Hell, where they are forced to exp ...more
Carol
Jun 22, 2008 Carol rated it liked it
More an illustration of Existentialist concepts than a true drama; still the one-act play about 2 women and a man in hell, coming to terms with their own lack of self concept, or their dependency on others for a sense of self is intellectually interesting (and very quick read). Existentialism was always so empowering to me, but in this play, it seems more nihilistic or fatalistic than I recall. And the fact that it takes place in hell, after the three main characters have died, strikes me as mor ...more
Lucy
Nov 12, 2008 Lucy rated it liked it
The second book I read is No Exit by Jean Paul Satre. I thought this book was really psychological and reminded me of a lot of things. In the book 3 people were brought to this place where there was thing but them. The theme of the book was to be yourself and not let anyone judge you. People do not make who you are, you are yourself. The 3 protagonists were unable to get pass people’s opinions so they were unable to leave. In life I think everyone cares about what others think of them. The only ...more
Rachel
Sep 04, 2007 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autodidactic, fiction
I wish I had years and years left of college so I could have fit in all the classes I could dream of. If I did, I would have taken an course in existentialism. Unfortunately it was only ever briefly touched on in one philosophy class, but the brief mention was enough to ignite an interest that I was free to pursue on my own.

I would recommend that anyone who finds comfort in exitentialism, like myself, read NO Exit. The line "Hell is other people" might be one of my favorite mantras.

Why I find i
...more
Eadweard
Feb 22, 2016 Eadweard rated it really liked it
No Exit (Huis Clos) 4/5
THE FLIES (Les Mouches) 4/5
Dirty Hands (Les Mains sales) 4/5
The Respectful Prostitute (La Putain respectueuse) 3.5/5
Noah Richardson
Aug 12, 2015 Noah Richardson rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Daniel
Aug 09, 2012 Daniel rated it liked it
This is a nice compilation of important plays by Sartre.

No Exit is a nicely accessible work in which Sartre examines the nature of self identity. Three people sent to either purgatory or hell, whichever best fits your idea. It is a clever use of implotment and dialogue to reveal character. Perhaps a bit too obvious, but for drama such is how the point gets across. I found Sartre's attempt to examine ethics interesting. I am not sure when this work was produced relative to Sartre's career, but he
...more
Ensiform
Mar 31, 2013 Ensiform rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, french
Four plays:

"No Exit," translated by S. Gilbert. Three strangers, locked in a room. Can't really say anything about this brilliant allegory without revealing too much. It should be very widely read.

"The Flies," translated by S. Gilbert. A reworking of the Orestes/Electra story. I liked it better than Euripides'. Sartre made the characters multi-faceted and real; he also added Zeus as an adversary of Orestes who feeds on remorse. Orestes' refusing to repudiate his crime, create his own freedom an
...more
Kurt
Jul 23, 2011 Kurt rated it really liked it
I found this collection on sale at a bookstore that was going out of business, and I've seen plenty of cultural references to No Exit, so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to read the play for myself. I expected this collection to be pretentious, but I was pleasantly surprised to find four plays that explore philosophical issues in the context of stories that pulse with vitality.

The title play is clearly the most effective, as three cruel and funny and needy and undeniably Human cha
...more
Eric Jay Sonnenschein
May 16, 2011 Eric Jay Sonnenschein rated it really liked it
I have a special affection for NO EXIT because, along with THE STRANGER and IRRATIONAL MAN, it was my introduction to existentialism, the very cool "philosophical attitude" that seemed to fit me as well as my Levi 501s.

The ingenious set-up of 3 mismatched people in a stark room, offering no comfort or companionship, but only laying their respective trips on one another seemed to represent most of the relationships I had and saw around me--and I was only in my teens! "Hell is other people" could
...more
Kelsie
Aug 16, 2016 Kelsie rated it liked it
Shelves: drama, classic, play
I was on the fence with this collection of plays. I did like No Exit, that was my favourite; I would have given that one 5 out of 5 for sure. I loved the depiction of hell, no physical torture, no flames, just being trapped in a room with two other disagreeable people for eternity, that would be torturous. The Flies was the next one I like but that would have been more a 4 out of 5, it dragged on in some parts but I liked the modern reworking of the Electra-Orestes story. I didn't like Dirty Han ...more
Erika
May 03, 2016 Erika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-2016
I loved all of these plays! Although No Exit will always be among my favourite plays, I really enjoyed The Respectful Prostitute, even though I found it entirely disturbing and so reflective of current American society, regarding issues of race and sexuality. After reading these plays, I honestly feel a little bit disoriented, but in the best way possible.
Noor Sabah
Apr 16, 2015 Noor Sabah rated it it was amazing
Jean Paul Sartre : what a masterpiece !
" So this is Hell , I never would have thought - you remember : being roasted on the spit , sulphurs and brimstone . What a laugh! As if they need it ! Hell is just other people" .

Diana
Nov 25, 2012 Diana rated it really liked it
I must admit it has been a while since I've read No Exit and I only did so because I took a drama class when completing my English degree not because I loved drama but because it was less work to read a lot of plays vs. a lot of novels (also why I read a lot of poetry). However, I am so happy I did read Sartre because he introduced me to existentialism (and thus gave a name to my hitherto unnamed angst).

I think No Exit is a nice intro to existentialist thought and I often think of the scene wher
...more
Noura
Oct 28, 2015 Noura rated it liked it
4/5 to no exit

3/5 to the flies

3/5 to the dirty hands

3/5 to the respectful prostitute


overall this is about a 3.5 for me. definitely not my last foray into sartre. i was surprised by how much i enjoyed his work.
Madeleine
I read this for "No Exit" and, since it only comprised the first 40-some pages of the collection, felt obligated to try the other three plays that made up the bulk of what I paid for. "No Exit" was pretty damn good, though I'm pissed that someone beat me to publicizing the sentiment that hell is other people simply by virtue of existing before I did.

"The Flies" and "Dirty Hands" were engaging enough but it wasn't until "The Respectful Prostitute" that I felt like this was a four-star effort. It
...more
Heather
Feb 25, 2015 Heather rated it liked it
Definitely not what I was expecting. However these are still great pieces. All of them are very thought provoking and paychological, really makes you think.
Sandra
Oct 22, 2014 Sandra marked it as to-read
NO EXIT
THE FLIES
DIRTY HANDS
THE RESPECTFUL PROSTITUTE
Will Manuel
Feb 14, 2014 Will Manuel rated it it was ok
Three people stuck in a room with bad furniture? That's most of my professional life......
Matt
Feb 15, 2016 Matt rated it it was amazing
Sartre holds up just as much as he did when I read him 10 years ago. Evocative.
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Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre, normally known simply as Jean-Paul Sartre, was a French existentialist philosopher and pioneer, dramatist and screenwriter, novelist and critic. He was a leading figure in 20th century French philosophy.

He declined the award of the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his work which, rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom and the quest for truth, has ex
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“Ha! to forget. How childish! I feel you in my bones. Your silence screams in my ears. You may nail your mouth shut, you may cut out your tongue, can you keep yourself from existing? Will you stop your thoughts.” 298 likes
“Man is what he wills himself to be.” 211 likes
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