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No Exit and Three Other Plays

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4.11  ·  Rating details ·  26,363 ratings  ·  686 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 1989 by Vintage (first published 1947)
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Cassandra Kay Silva
Oct 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, theatre
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
Sketchbook
Jun 07, 2015 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
...more
Jenny
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No Exit: 3.5
The Flies: 3.5
Dirty Hands: 5
The Respectful Prostitute: 5
Total: 4.25, but I'm rounding to 5 even though it's closer to 4!

My favorite play in this collection, by far, is Dirty Hands. It's about a man named Hugo who joined the Proletariat Party in Illyria and is assigned to the party's newsletter. Finally, he gets his chance to prove himself to the party when he's asked to play secretary to a man the party deems dangerous to its cause and wants assassinated. Hugo is supposed to be the m
...more
Leonard
May 27, 2014 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
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
Roy Lotz
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama, francophilia
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 a
...more
E. G.
--The Respectable Prostitute
--Lucifer and the Lord
--Huis Clos
Madeline
Nov 10, 2009 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
Adeline
Dec 09, 2008 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
Erik Graff
Jun 03, 2009 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
...more
Juliette
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I guess I’m in the midst of an existential questioning. Then I picked up "No Exit” and Three Other Plays, and it became a full-blown crisis. I would walk to my neighbor and ask him, “Do you think I’m useless? Am I a bad person? What do I stand for? What is the purpose of all this?” Poor guy.
So this is hell. I’d never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the ‘burning marl.’ Old wives’ tales! There’s no need for red-hot pokers. Hell is
...more
Morgan
May 18, 2018 rated it liked it
I'll start off by saying I rated this book before realizing we only read one of the plays in college. Took me awhile to actually want to read the whole book. It's actually a pretty easy book to read. shouldn't take you more than four days.

I really liked the first two plays in this book. No Exit is one of the best. I love the characters, the setting, the dialogue, and the plot. The Flies was a nice surprise too. It was interesting to read another existentialist writ about Greek mythology. I was g
...more
d.a.v.i.d
Dec 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ach. Simply great.

It brought to mind that ancient Greek myth, Ixion, albeit modern and with different actors.

Same destination, though.

Satre, the man.
reem
Jul 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
I don't know what made me buy this book. It isn't like anything I'd ever want to read, so why the ridiculous curiosity? Well, I finished 'No Exit' and didn't feel like reading the three other plays (although I'm willing to wait some time and come back to it.) The whole thing felt like walking knee-deep in mud. ...more
Sean Blake
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, fiction, plays
"If God exists, man is nothing. If man exists..."

In this collection of plays, Sartre examines disillusion, authenticity, absurdism and faith, all under his own existentialist framework. 'Lucifer and the Lord' has his main characters extensively examine faith and the idea of 'existence precedes essence' against the backdrop of the German Peasants' War in the 16th century. 'Huis Clos/No Exit' can easily be seen as his finest work. Three recently deceased characters meet in a hot, dark, windowl
...more
B.
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I only read "No Exit", as intended. An allegory for fascism? Must be there somewhere, but I don't get it. What I do see it as an allegory, I guess, or at least an illustration, for how we say we want to escape from the emotional torment of our decisions, preferring the physical torment of "racks and prongs and garrotes", but really we want to stay in that room, with our torment, because it makes us feel alive. In emotional masochism, there is no exit as satisfying as a locked door. ...more
Ray LaManna
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never read Sartre's great play...but I the theater critic of the NY Times suggested it as reading during the lockdown. All I can say is that I pray I never am condemned to hell! ...more
Michael Kress
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1940s
The book I read is simply titled Three Plays. I couldn't find this particular copy listed on Goodreads. It doesn't contain "No Exit," but contains "Dirty Hands," "The Respectful Prostitute," and "The Victors." All three plays deserve 5 stars and were quite entertaining. They reflect his philosophies of existentialism, freedom, and "bad faith." Many of the characters try to find life's meaning in the midst of adversity, and the concept of freedom is expressed by their indecision in desperate matt ...more
Dakota Sillyman
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My first time reading anything of Satre's. I had high expectations which he somehow succeeded.

Also the collection is available for free online at; https://web.archive.org/web/201311260...

No Exit.

The book's titular play and one of Sartre's most famous. The character dynamic was certainly interesting, but it seemed to drone on just a little. It's one of his most famous, but frankly it was my least favorite of the collection.

The Flies

A clever rework of the Greek myth. It reads like an epic tragedy,
...more
Rachel
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Rob Springer
Jun 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
I remember reading this and Sartre’s Nausea in high school, partly because my big brother was into it and I wanted to be able to converse (and say I’d read important stuff). Of Existentialism I will say this: it is brave in the face of its hopelessness. Ridiculously brave, like the blind man who insists there is no such thing as color, the Existentialist insists that all is meaningless. Except their own novels and plays.
Rachel
May 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard to rate since it’s got four plays but...

First off, Jean-Paul Sartre has some hang ups about women and that’s clear in all of the plays.
No Exit: Lived up to the hype for me.
The Flies: Good, clear intro to Sartre’s existentialist philosophies.
Dirty Hands: Crime and Punishment, we get it!
The Respectful Prostitute: Meant to be “an attack on American racism” — I doubt Sartre realized this when he wrote it, but it’s a prime example of what happens when white women uphold white supremacy and just
...more
Daniel
Aug 03, 2012 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
eve
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm that cat staring into a camera, rgb strobe lights flashing behind me with Caramelldansen playing in the background, and in my head are 25 sirens blaring simultaneously. ...more
thewanderingjew
Aug 22, 2011 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 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 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
Kelsie
Sep 15, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jimmy
Aug 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama
"Hell is other people". ...more
Will Manuel
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Three people stuck in a room with bad furniture? That's most of my professional life...... ...more
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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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