Phillip's Reviews > The Story I Tell Myself: A Venture in Existentialist Autobiography

The Story I Tell Myself by Hazel E. Barnes
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's review
Feb 28, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: literature, philosophy, sartre

This autobiography of Hazel Barnes deserves to be approached with gentleness. Hazel Barnes translated Jean-Paul Sartre's "L'Être et le néant : Essai d'ontologie phénoménologique" into English as "Being and Nothingness" during the 1950s. Thus, she single-handedly introduced Sartre's most important work to the United States.

I say her autobiography deserves to be approached with gentleness because it would be easy to dismiss it as uninteresting or even bad. I don't believe that it is either. She wrote her autobiography during her 80s. That means the tempo of the book is slow. Also, the woman was not given to flamboyance. She studied and taught the Classics, meaning Latin and Greek, before she found herself translating Sartre. After that she lived and taught in Boulder, Colorado for the remainder of her career. These are not the activities of a gripping autobiography. But, if "Being and Nothingness" is important to you, and you have always wanted to know about Hazel Barnes, then her autobiography is a well written work that tells the story in her own words.

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