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The Philosopher's TouchSartre, Nietzsche, and Barthes at the Piano$
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François Noudelmann

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153942

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153942.001.0001

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The Off-Beat Piano

The Off-Beat Piano

(p.6) (p.7) Two The Off-Beat Piano
The Philosopher's Touch

François Noudelmann

, Brian J. Reilly
Columbia University Press

This chapter examines evidence showing that Jean-Paul Sartre was interested in music. It begins by perusing the many studies that Sartre devoted to the arts, including matiériste painting, kinetic sculpture, photojournalism, popular cinema, African poetry, and the American novel. Sartre wrote only belatedly about the music of his own century. But it wasn't until the 1970s that he wrote more generally about the modern composers who were at the heart of contemporary debates. Sartre also listened to comic operas. This chapter considers how Sartre plays Frédéric-François Chopin; his Romanticism and how he plays the piano; his views on hallucinations and dreams; his playing the piano as an escape from reality; his political activism; and how he used music to resist science, morality, and power—the three pillars of bourgeois humanism. It also analyzes the rhythm evident in Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason (Critique de la raison).

Keywords:   piano, Jean-Paul Sartre, music, arts, composers, Frédéric-François Chopin, Romanticism, dreams, political activism, Critique of Dialectical Reason

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