Jean-Paul Sartre was one of the most important philosophical and political thinkers of the twentieth century. His writings had a potency that was irresistible to the intellectual scene that swept post-war Europe, and have left a vital inheritance to contemporary thought. The central tenet of the Existentialist movement which he helped to found, whereby God is replaced by an ethical self, proved hugely attractive to a generation that had seen the horrors of Nazism, and provoked a revolution in post-war thought and literature. In What is Literature? Sartre the novelist and Sartre the philosopher combine to address the phenomenon of literature, exploring why we read, and why we write.
'Since critics condemn me in the name of literature without ever saying what they mean by that, the best answer to give them is to examine the art of writing without prejudice. What is writing? Why does one write? For whom? The fact is, it seems that nobody has ever asked himself these questions.' - Jean-Paul Sartre
'This is a book that can neither be assimilated nor bypassed. There is probably no better way to encounter it than in this translation, with these notes and this introduction.' - Notes and Queries
'A robust and bracing read.' - Roy Johnson, Mantex.co.uk