The Roads to Freedom - Netflix

The Roads to Freedom is a drama series based on the novels by Jean-Paul Sartre.

Type: Scripted

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 45 minutes

Premier: 1970-10-04

The Roads to Freedom - The Roads to Freedom - Netflix

The Roads to Freedom (French: Les chemins de la liberté) is a series of novels by Jean-Paul Sartre. Intended as a tetralogy, it was left incomplete, with only three of the planned four volumes published. The three published novels revolve around Mathieu, a Socialist teacher of philosophy, and a group of his friends. The trilogy includes: L'âge de raison (The Age of Reason), Le sursis (generally translated as The Reprieve but which could cover a number of semantic fields from 'deferment' to 'amnesty'), and La mort dans l'âme (Troubled Sleep, originally translated by Gerard Hopkins as Iron in the Soul, Hamish Hamilton, 1950). The trilogy was to be followed by a fourth novel, La dernière chance (i.e. The Last Chance); however, Sartre would never finish it: two chapters were published in 1949 in Sartre's magazine Les Temps modernes under the title Drôle d'amitié. The last part of The Last Chance was later reconstructed and published in 1981 (see section below). The novels were written largely in response to the events of World War II and the Nazi occupation of France, and express certain significant shifts in Sartre's philosophical position towards 'engagement' (commitment) in both life and literature, finding their resolution in the extended essay L'existentialisme est un humanisme (Existentialism is a Form of Humanism).

The Roads to Freedom - Why Sartre did not finish the series - Netflix

Sartre's biographer Ronald Hayman theorized that one reason Sartre did not finish the Roads to Freedom series was because Sartre “deeply disliked bringing anything to a conclusion.” Hayman pointed out that although Sartre “managed to complete nine original plays, seven short stories, and several screenplays, nearly all his other major projects in literature and philosophy were abandoned.” These included the planned sequels to Nausea, Being and Nothingness, and Critique of Dialectical Reason, and “other uncompleted projects including the autobiography, the enormous biography of Flaubert, La Psyché (a phenomenological psychology), a book on Mallarmé, one on Tintoretto,” etc. As for the Roads to Liberty, Sartre “had relatively little difficulty in completing the first three volumes: nothing needed to be concluded. He wrote 223 pages of the last volume, La derniere chance, and he did not give up hope of finishing it until nine years after publishing the third volume in the series.” According to Hayman, one reason for Sartre's unfinished projects was his restlessness: when Sartre “worked at long-term projects, it was tarnished by ambivalence. Other work would be clamoring for his time, and simultaneously he would feel guilty about enjoying words instead of taking action.” Simone de Beauvoir is quoted as saying, “Without having abandoned the idea of a fourth volume, he always found work that needed his attention more.” For another possible interpretation, Hayman goes on to quote the writer Michael Scriven, who said that Sartre was “shattering the myth of the coherently finished text, the myth that the contradictions that gave rise to the work have been resolved by an apparently cohesive textual narrative.” Michel Contat, in his “General Introduction for Roads of Freedom,” points out that Sartre was no longer in the right frame of mind. His experience had become “extremely restricted and particularized. It became the experience of a man of letters, a celebrity intellectual, who, apart from his old circle of friends, almost only encounters people like himself, even when he goes abroad.” Also, the reviews of the last novel in the series, Troubled Sleep, had not been good. Contat further suggests that “it is in developing the idea, near the end of 1953, of an autobiography that Sartre decides -- or rather that the decision takes place in him -- to leave his novel where it is, for this new project represents a way out of the dead-end in which he finds himself with the novel.” In an interview in 1973 concerning The Roads to Freedom, Sartre revealed at least one of the reasons he discontinued the series: What is fundamentally false about a novel in which one constructs a character based on oneself is precisely that he is not really you. The differences you put into him, and which seem of no decisive significance at the outset, end up throwing him into falseness. In The Age of Reason, I gave Mathieu everything of mine--I don't mean the facts of life, but his character--except the essential thing, which is that I lived in order to write. There is something radically false in an autobiographical novel, namely that it's straddling: it is neither completely a novel, nor completely an autobiography. But that's something I did not want to see at the time because I did not want to abandon the novel, and I could not write without making use of my own life.

The Roads to Freedom - References - Netflix