A pause from Russia to note that thanks to the wonderful journalist and francophile Doug Ireland, I found out that this past week marked the 100th anniversary of Jean-Paul Sartre’s birth. Ireland is right to draw attention to one of the most famous intellectuals of the 20th Century. Apparently, many people don’t read Sartre any more, seeing his Existentialism as outdated and naive. I only started reading him recently, when I used a section of his Critique of Dialectical Reason in a paper on reification in Frantz Fanon and Georg Lukacs. I remember a professor happened to see the text on my desk and commented, “People still read him?” I haven’t read much of him, though at the time I planned to. His preface to Fanon’s book is a classic essay which I think every educated person should have read, as for his Being and Nothingness (which I haven’t read). Ireland mentions this in his blog, and I also recommend Edward Said’s interesting first encounter with Sartre in 1979.
Guest: Anya Bernstein on The Future of Immortality: Remaking Life and Death in Contemporary Russia published by Princeton University Press.