Jean-Paul Sartre

Philosopher, celebrity, apologist for totalitarianism.

Happy birthday, angst-master!

Today marks the 100th anniversary of Jean-Paul Sartre’s birth. France is celebrating the philosophe’s birthday with a series of tributes and events, though his popularity has waned since his death in 1980, perhaps because of his reputation as an apologist for totalitarianism. In 2003, Jim Holt assessed Sartre’s achievements and embarrassments, from founding existentialism and declining the Nobel Prize in literature to excusing the purges of Stalin and Mao. Holt described him as the Last Intellectual: “There will never again be a combination of totalizing theoretician, literary colossus, and political engagé like Sartre.”