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The Words - Jean-Paul Sartre, Irene Clephane Sartre has a clear-eyed view of his family, and I can appreciate the way he can dissect them (and himself) so cleanly, straight to the bone. He has no problem passing cold judgments on his family and their bourgeois values. I enjoyed reading it (especially the first part where he skewers them), but his merciless analysis made me feel he must have been a pretty cold fish.

There's a tension to this book because Sartre reports the feelings of a toddler, but with the insight and expectations and judgment of an adult. An example is his obsession with authenticity. Even as a small child, he feels he was being inauthentic, and implicates himself in play-acting scenes with grandfather. No excuses indeed. I guess if you've studied Sartre or Existentialism in school this is nothing new. Since I spent a lot of my time with the Victorians, I missed this kind of thing. I also pretty much substituted literature for philosophy, so this book was good for me, being a bit of both.

The second part is about Sartre's first attempts at writing. Perhaps self-absorption is what one should expect when reading an autobiography, but I found it much less interesting.