Listen free for 30 days

Listen with a free trial

One credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
Unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue - thousands of select Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks.
Exclusive member-only deals.
No commitment - cancel anytime.
Buy Now for £14.99

Buy Now for £14.99

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

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.

©2016 Gary Cox (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about Existentialism and Excess

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    36
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    34
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    28
  • 4 Stars
    14
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Good Insight for the Novice

I briefly touched upon Satre during my degree and always wanted to find out more about him, his life and his work. This is a very informative and engaging read.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A biography that shows Sartre’s humanity and personality.

This biography seems to meet all the minimum necessary requirements of such a work. It’s a reasonably brisk tour of his life and it’s highs and lows. The former you will at least of heard of if you know much about him at all. The latter are almost certainly his self-inflicted failings of his health, particularly in his last few years. We Brits don’t really look at intellectuals in the same way as the French do. Sartre would have likely been largely ignored, had he been British. The French celebrated him or hated him, but recognised him for the giant that he was, and it seems difficult to imagine that the World will ever see his like again as we have all become consumers instead of citizens and people.
Even as he was slowly dying, his popularity amongst women, and other philosophers and politicians did not wane. His roles from the inter-War years and through the Second World War and beyond placed him in a singular position for the French. His writings, philosophical, literary, political and social, kept him in the public eye, despite his often provocative actions. I don’t think that anyone felt that he lacked a feeling for others or that he lacked an ability to understand anything that he set his mind to.
I’m not sure how Gary Cox feels about Sartre, however. I’m not sure that he sympathised with any of his views, per se, but he can admire his commitments, his tenacity, his sheer intellectual range and capacity. How Cox came up with the title of this biography and what he was referring to in using a term like ‘excess’, is not clear to me. It seems intended to drum up some seamy side to Sartre’s life which wasn’t really there, as though readers might need to think that he was corrupt or self-serving to open its pages.
If you’re keen to know more about Jean-Paul Sartre for any reason, this will give you a reasonable idea of the man and his works without getting too deeply into the nitty gritty of his complex philosophy. If you want to comprehend his philosophy better, I’d suggest this isn’t the book that you’d read. I’ve had a little knowledge of the great man for many years, and now it’s a bit broader, with an emphasis on his humanity and personality.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

genius?

JPS was and is an interesting philosopher but also a grubby individual with a decided lack of empathy and morals. This biography skates over the negatives but nevertheless ISA worthwhile read

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

Well written, well read, well researched. A must read for anyone who wants to delve into the background of the life and works of Satre.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Surprised

I was not expecting to find Sayre to be so interesting of a personality. Read it if you love scandalous people.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

detailed and fascinating, it is very well done

I enjoyed this excellent biography very much and will listen again. well written and narrated.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 24-01-20

a capitalista biography of Sartre

interesting biography that would have made Sartre puke, not because of the story and facts but due to the shallow and patronizing political commenting by the editor and writer

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 03-06-21

A powerful book

My opinions of Sartre and his belief went on a Rollercoaster ride with this book. From enlightening moments, feelings of empathy, disgust at times for his personal habits, but overall an enormous sympathy and gratitude for a man who helped define what it is to be a person in the modern world, and when it was needed badly. At the final chapters I had tears in my eyes for such a beautiful story.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Greg
  • Greg
  • 24-02-19

wanting to learn more!

not poignant, however a clear world historical narrative during the sartre years. a really unique figure.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Magnus
  • Magnus
  • 14-07-17

thank you for a great exposition of Sartres life

Except for a bad allusion between Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre's powerful relationship to Hillary and Bill Clinton, whereby one links Sartre absurdly to the corrupt political mileu of the 2010-s.

2 people found this helpful