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The Walker Percy Project

Sartre's Existential Freedom: Walker Percy, Edward Hopper, and Mike Nichols Works of Art 1940-1970


Zhenping Wang

Benedict O'Donohoe and Roy Elveton titled their book Sartre's Second Century (2009), stating the twentieth-first century is very possibly "Sartre's second century," for his philosophy continues affecting the minds of people. Jean-Paul Sartre's existential philosophy concerns the free human individual, particularly his possibilities to continuously create his own identities. Human existence is never defined by objects, and he is only determined by his own actions. As long as he is alive, he possesses this freedom and never ceases to project himself into the future. The undefined nature of human existence is conceived as human beings on the move. A study of this sense as it is revealed in art helps us feel and embrace the fundamental core of Sartre's thought.

This book examines works of American novelist Walker Percy, painter Edward Hopper, and director Mike Nichols with special attention to the depiction of the human being as a conscious being who is keeping a sense of wonder so as to stave off everydayness, who is imagining a new world into the unknown so as to demonstrate his strong interiority, and who is searching for a true life so as to exhibit his authenticity.

Zhenping Wang, Associate Professor, teaches at the Beijing Foreign Studies University of China. She received her Ph.D. in Cultural Studies in Humanities, University of Louisville, USA. Her academic interests include: Jean-Paul Sartre and his Existential Philosophy, Western Humanistic Studies, Film Theory, and American Cultural Studies.

Publication Date: March 5, 2014