I borrowed a friend’s book, The Words, by Sartre. I wanted to get a feel of how Sartre saw his world, as opposed to hearing about how he wants me to see the world. I am not even half-way through the book and I have sensed numerous times that he perceived his relationships and his existence in the world similarly to how I perceive mine. It’s fascinating.
Coincidentally, his family came from the same region as mine, during the same time period: Alsace. Wow! I wondered if maybe his family knew mine. Maybe there’s a love affair hidden in the family histories! The making of my next book! Not surprisingly, my assumption about Alsace is not quite the reality. I’m picturing this little village in the Alps of Germany/Austria. But it seems to be a pretty large region. O.k. Maybe there was no love affair, but maybe they exchanged salutations on the the street.
It was about 100 years ago that Sartre was raised by his widow mother and grandparents. Although described as a peaceful childhood, I see some underlying facades that may have indicated tensions that were never brought to the surface. These are the same facades, the same methods of denial, that I see in modern day relationships. It was a completely different place and time, with no automobiles and no telephones. Yet, the coping mechanisms were the same. Somehow, this serendipitous encounter with Sartre and his family has placed life’s vicissitudes into a category of necessary events for growth and evolution, rather than the misfortune of circumstance.