People once fell out over books, plays and movies the way they now fall out over Brexit. As a teenager, I remember a dinner party at my parents’ house when Germaine Greer said that Jean-Paul Sartre was a ‘second-rate philosopher’ and another guest, the American novelist Chandler Brossard, replied, ‘I think it’s time to go home now,’ and left in disgust.
Well, I’m all in favor of passionate likes and dislikes, though I see no point in getting bent out of shape over them. You used to be able to google “Wilson, Inquirer, Cormac, asshole” and read all the nasty things lots of people had to say about an article I wrote about The Road. I rather liked that. Obviously, I had got their attention, which is always nice. As for what Ms. Greer had to say about Sartre, I think she was being polite. I’d have said third-rate. Being and Nothingness is an excruciating read. And the “philosophy” is pretty forgettable. If you want to read French philosophy of that period, read Gabriel Marcel.
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