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A Comparative Study on Sartre's Existentialist Novels and Fortress Besieged

Author HuLin
Tutor TanYing
School Wuhan University of Technology
Course Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords Existentialism Existentialist Principles Sartre Nausea The Wall NoExit Fortress Besieged
Type Master's thesis
Year 2013
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Western Existentialism has exerted an enormous influence throughout the world in the19th century. As the product of specific historical stage, Existentialism is an anti-rationalistic philosophy that takes as its starting point the human existential experience and subjectivity, profoundly revealing the absurdity of the world and the nothingness feeling of human existence. At the same time, Existentialism throws doubt and negation upon the established value system of capitalist society, calling for individual freedom and self-salvation in the face of absurdity and nothingness. As the most influential representative of Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre is not only a famous philosopher, but also a prominent litterateur and social activist. Sartre mainly focuses his attention on expressing his abstract philosophical thoughts in the form of literature, and his novels and dramas are perfectly illustrating his existentialist philosophy, successfully makes his followers easier to understand and accept his viewpoints. At the same time, Sartre’s idea of’involvement literature’ that advocates the use of literature as a way of improving society also attracts much attention. Thanks to Sartre’s contributions, Existentialism established its great influence throughout the whole world in the19th century. In this paper, the author will clearly introduce Sartre’s three existentialist principles, and on the basis of these principles, Sartre’s three classic and influential existentialist novels, that is, Nausea, The Wall and No Exit will be properly analyzed, with the purpose that on the one hand, Sartre’s existentialist principles will be better understood and on the other hand, his existentialist literary works can be better appreciated.With its profound influence on literature of the whole world, Existentialism has also exerted its influence on the thinking and literature of China that was in the same historical period. And since its being introduced into China, Existentialism has attracted the attention of Chinese advanced intellectuals of that time. They became quite interested in it and expressed their existentialist thinking by virtue of literary works of different forms. Although it remains a fact that the influence of Existentialism is not on a par with that of Marxism in China, its profound influence on modern Chinese literature should never be neglected since its introduction during the May Fourth Movement. Besides the existentialist analysis of Sartre’s novels, the author will also analyze the most representative work of Chinese Existentialism, that is, Fortress Besieged written by Qian Zhongshu. And furthermore, an existentialist comparison of Sartre’s three novels and Fortress Besieged will specially be made so as to explore the similarities and differences existing among them, trying to reveal the localization of Sartre’s Existentialism and its special influence on modern Chinese literature. These studies will surely contribute to a better appreciation of Chinese existentialist literary works, including Fortress Besieged itself.

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