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Iron in the Soul (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Jean-Paul Sartre , David Caute , Gerard Hopkins
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 Sep 2002 Penguin Modern Classics
June 1940 was the summer of defeat for the French soldiers, deserted by their officers, utterly demoralized, awaiting the Armistice. Day by day, hour by hour, Iron in the Soul unfolds what men thought and felt and did as France fell. Men who shrugged, men who ran, men who fought and tragic men like Mathieu, who had dedicated his life to finding personal freedom, now overwhelmed by remorse and bitterness, who must learn to kill. Iron in the Soul, the third volume of Sartre's Roads to Freedom Trilogy, is a harrowing depiction of war and what it means to lose.

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Iron in the Soul (Penguin Modern Classics) + The Reprieve (Penguin Modern Classics) + The Age of Reason (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (26 Sep 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141186577
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141186573
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 156,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Philosopher, novelist, playwright and polemicist, Jean-Paul Sartre is thought to have been the central figure in post-war European culture and political thinking. His most well-known works, all of which are published by Penguin, include THE AGE OF REASON, NAUSEA and IRON IN THE SOUL.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An electrifying moment 5 Nov 2008
By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I had read several other books by Sartre before coming to this, Nausea (Penguin Modern Classics), The Age of Reason (Penguin Modern Classics), The Reprieve (Penguin Modern Classics), even had a go at Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology (Routledge Classics), but must confessed I bounced on that one. I also read various books around the topic of Existentialism, which in my hip University days was something that a thinking person had to have a view on.

For me, as for other people it was a concept, or family of concepts, that at times seemed utterly baffling, at others, ludicrously straightforward. When you didn't understand it you weren't sure if it was you being thick or clever writers being obscure. When you did understand it you could never be sure you'd missed some deeper essence of the point.

It was reading this book that bought me to a moment of vivid realisation that finished the doubts about what Existentialism was for me. The moment was when a particular character in the book, too long ago now to remember his name, decides to finally stand up and commit to a path of action, one of armed resistance to German invasion, having spent a fair preamble not sure what path to take, what the invasion means, whether it means anything. He commits to the path knowing it to be both folly but also heroic in a purely private sense, as heroism can only be in a universe that doesn't care.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Liquid Iron 11 Oct 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book must be read in conjunction with the other two parts of the trilogy, "The Age of Reason" and "The Reprieve". This book is highly enjoyable and Sartre, the perfectionist that he is, presents his philosophy through his characters with an artistic technique that is unsurpassable. The only disappointment is that Sartre never finished the final book which would have concluded "The Ways to Freedom". I highly recommend this read.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect melding of reader and subject matter. 19 Sep 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
My second favourite novel. This final part of the "Roads to Freedom" trilogy was actually the first Sartre book I read, but despite this I was soon captivated by characters like Mathieu, Boris, Lola and Ivich and the writing which allows the reader to merge with the characters in a way that seems unique to Sartre's writing. As befits Sartre's best work, there are many great scenes. The two standout scenes have to be Mathieu in the watch tower and the last scene on the train. These scenes linger in the mind long afterwards. Other memorable scenes include Daniel walking the deserted streets of Paris, the flight of Sarah and Pablo, and Gomez visiting the art gallery in New York.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, rather than entertaining 19 April 2014
Format:Paperback
Part One of this book (which is two thirds of it) is quite readable and is interesting because it gives a contemporary account of France during the German invasion of 1940. It doesn't make for a particularly entertaining novel, but there is some good writing as we follow the lives of various groups of people in Paris and in the countryside, both civilians and soldiers.
It's not always easy to keep up with who is who though, as some characters disappear for such long stretches that I'd forgotten who they were by the time their names cropped up again.

Part Two is written in a different style. We get 120 pages without any paragraph breaks, and I found this quite tedious and harder to read. It just rambles on and on, pretty much the same content as Part One, but even more dofficult to follow. I reckon paragraphs are there for a reason, and to do away with them for no good reason other than trying to be different seems absurd (to use a word that Sartre was fond of!).
I find Sartre's philosophy very interesting and this book is easy enough compared to some of his non-fiction, but as far as his novels go, I would recommend 'Nausea' more highly than this.
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