Joshua Finnell's Reviews > Typhus

Typhus by Jean-Paul Sartre
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Jun 01, 2010

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bookshelves: fiction, library-journal-review
Read from January 27 to February 08, 2010

Library Journal Review:

Sartre's lost screenplay is a tale of human redemption against a backdrop of utter hopelessness, a common theme in the work of the French existentialist. Depicting the plight of Malayan natives struggling for survival under colonial occupation during the outbreak of typhus, the imagery matches the desolate rhythm of the lines with dark scenes of death and decay. The protagonist is Georges, a drunk, disgraced naval doctor whose life has been shattered because of an act of cowardice. In view of the screenplay's deuteragonist, a poor nightclub singer named Nellie, Georges degrades himself by dancing a jig for a bottle of whiskey. Desperately trying to erase that humiliating image of him in her mind, Georges performs successive acts of thoughtfulness toward Nellie, which constitute the reversal of his process of destitution, ultimately leading to even greater levels of sacrifice. VERDICT Sartre's existential philosophy is better known through his creative works than his philosophical treatises. The first English translation of this screenplay, written in 1943-44 and rediscovered in 2007, adds to that understanding.

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