The Words (book)

The Words is the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre's 1963 autobiography.

Structure and presentation

The text is divided into two near-equal parts entitled 'Reading' and 'Writing'. However, according to Philippe Lejeune, these two parts are only a façade and are not relevant to the chronological progression of the work. He considers the text to instead be divided into five parts which he calls 'acts':
The first title which Sartre thought of was Jean sans terre.


The book, consisting of Sartre distancing himself from writing and making his farewells to literature was very successful for the author and was hailed nearly unanimously as a "literary success". In November of the same year, 1964, he refused the Nobel Prize for Literature awarded for his work, described as "rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom and the quest for truth, has exerted a far-reaching influence on our age."