The Words is one of the most interesting autobiographies I’ve read. Although it mainly covers the first ten years of the life of Jean-Paul Satre, there are flashes back and forth that provide the reader with a sufficient understanding of his later life.
Divided into two parts called reading and writing, this autobiography describes in detail how the foundation was set for Satre in his journey of becoming an acclaimed writer and philosopher. It is also a detailed self-analysis of how his thoughts were formed and shaped which saw future expression through many of his writings. The lifestyle and his relationship with his mother and maternal grandparents, especially his grandfather, bear direct and indirect influences on shaping his life and thoughts. They are so well described here that one can see how his philosophical views slowly and steadily developed.
Apart from being interesting as a good insight to the philosopher/writer himself, this autobiography is a great inspiration to budding writers. There are so many informative tidbits to stimulate the mind of aspiring writers. It really inspired me, and I learned quite a few things. I was especially struck by what he said about his childhood imaginations and how they and his love for talking of things in detailed exaggeration helped him develop his thinking and writing. It made me think of things in a new light.
This autobiography was both an interesting and a productive read, interesting in that we get a glimpse into the life of one of the greatest philosophical writers of all time, and productive in that it stimulated me into exploring a new phase of my writing.