Melanie's Reviews > At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Others

At the Existentialist Café by Sarah Bakewell
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
202005
's review
Apr 27, 2017

really liked it
bookshelves: biography, philosophy

It begins with some hard slogging if you're not (I'm not) used to reading philosophy (any more) - but - once you get the focus, it is fascinating, especially once the personalities of the various philosophers begin to interact with each other's thoughts, lives, and politics. I was struck by how truly unpleasant some of the guiding lights of philosophy were, and how ugly their choices in the 1930s.

I was also struck by how similar systems of thought could lead to different conclusions - such as how Albert Camus's decision to oppose the death penalty for war criminals conflicted with Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre's support, and Sartre's support for a clearly totalitarian regime in the USSR after his experience as a prisoner of war under National Socialism.

My favorite quote came from Hannah Arendt after the execution of the Rosenbergs: "An unimaginable stupidity must have taken hold in the USA. It frightens us because we are familiar with it." Oh, if she only knew ...

One star taken off because of the dense beginning (although, in truth, it's probably my own brain that was dense, not the writing).
1 like · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read At the Existentialist Café.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

January 13, 2017 – Shelved
January 13, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
April 22, 2017 – Started Reading
April 27, 2017 – Shelved as: biography
April 27, 2017 – Shelved as: philosophy
April 27, 2017 – Finished Reading

No comments have been added yet.