Although written fairly early in his career, in 1939, Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions is considered to be one of Jean-Paul Sartre's most important pieces of writing. It not only anticipates but argues many of the ideas to be found in his famous Being and Nothingness. By subjecting the emotion theories of his day to critical analysis, Sartre opened up the world of psychology to new and creative ways of interpreting feelings. Emotions are intentional and strategic ways of coping with difficult situations. We choose to utilize them, we control them, and not the other way around, as has been posited elsewhere. Emotions are not fixed; they have no essence and indeed are subject to rapid fluctuations and about-turns. For its witty approach alone, Sartre's Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions can be enjoyed at length. It is a dazzling journey to one of the more intriguing theories of our time.
'A model of lucid exposition, very well translated. The central thesis stands out with tempting clarity … Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions is certainly the best introduction available to the world of Being and Nothingness, and is also a useful guide to M. Sartre's more difficult views on the imagination.' - Times Literary Supplement
'A driving force in all Sartre's writing is his serious desire to change the life of his reader.' - Iris Murdoch
'The best source for Sartre's theoretical views on the nature of psychology.' - Mary Warnock, from the introduction