Existentialism and Excess

  • by Gary Cox
  • Narrated by Matt Addis
  • 8 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Jean-Paul Sartre is one of the undisputed giants of 20th-century philosophy. His intellectual writings popularizing existentialism, combined with his creative and artistic flair, have made him a legend of French thought. His tumultuous personal life - so inextricably bound up with his philosophical thinking - is a fascinating tale of love and lust, drug abuse, high-profile fallings-out and political and cultural rebellion.
This substantial and meticulously researched biography is accessible, fast paced, entertaining, often amusing and at times deeply moving. Existentialism and Excess covers all the main events of Sartre's remarkable 75-year life, from his early years as a precocious brat devouring his grandfather's library through his time as a brilliant student in Paris, his wilderness years as a provincial teacher-writer experimenting with mescaline, his World War II adventures as a POW and member of the resistance, his postwar politicization, his immense amphetamine-fuelled feats of writing productivity, his harem of women, his many travels and his final decline into blindness and old age.
Along the way there are countless intriguing anecdotes, some amusing, some tragic, some controversial: his loathing of crustaceans and belief that he was being pursued by a giant lobster; his escape from a POW camp; his many affairs; his meetings with Roosevelt, Hemingway, John Huston, Mao, Castro, Che Guevara, Khrushchev, and Tito; his feuds with Aron, Camus, and Merleau-Ponty; the bombing of his apartment; his influence on the May 1968 uprising; his long and complex relationship with Simone de Beauvoir.
Existentialism and Excess also gives serious consideration to his ideas and many philosophical works, novels, stories, plays and biographies, revealing their intimate connections with his personal life. An entertaining, thought-provoking and compulsive book, much like the man himself.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent audiobook

Beautifully read and packed with interesting detail about the life, thoughts and works of JPS. It's great that the author and the narrator have created this wonderful audiobook! Thanks!
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- Justice Peace "JP"

Accessible Sartre doesn't have to be an oxymoron

What did you like most about Existentialism and Excess?

I love the way Gary Cox writes; it helps me to hold on to and even understand some very complex ideas, at least for a while.
"Existentialism and Excess: The life and times of Jean Paul Sartre" is a chronological romp through Sartre's life and provides background, depth and context to Sartre's wrtings and philosophies.
Matt Addiss's reading is superb, he gets the timing spot on and his voice is rich, varied and easy on the ears.


Who was your favorite character and why?

The young Sartre is by far my favouritie I got a sense of integrity, joy and liberation


Which character – as performed by Matt Addis – was your favourite?

Not really applicable


If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

It has one already!


Any additional comments?

I have also got this book in print, it makes it so much easier for writing in the margins

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- Polly

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-09-2016
  • Publisher: Audible Studios for Bloomsbury