Jean-Paul Sartre - one of the best-known and most discussed modern French writers and thinkers - was born in Paris in 1905. His friendship with Simone de Beauvoir, whom he met while studying philosophy at the Sorbonne, stretched over fifty years, until his death in 1980. He is perhaps best remembered as the founder of French existentialism and as a man of passion, fighting for what he believed in. Among his best known works are La Nausee (1938), Les Mouches (1943), Huis clos (1944) and the trilogy Les Chemins de la libert©; published in Penguin as The Age of Reason, The Reprieve and The Iron in the Soul.
The Letters of Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvoir 1926-1939 is also published by Penguin.
Set in the volatile Paris summer of 1938, The Age of Reason follows two days in the life of Mathieu Delarue, a philosophy teacher, and his circle in the cafes and bars of Montparnasse. Mathieu has so far managed to contain sex and personal freedom in conveniently separate compartments. But now he is in trouble, urgently trying to raise 4,000 francs to procure a safe abortion for his mistress, Marcelle. Beyond all this, filtering an uneasy light on his predicament, rises the distant threat of the coming of the Second World War.