The Labyrinth: An Existential Odyssey with Jean-Paul Sartre

Ben Argon. Abrams ComicArts, $16.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-4197-4002-2
Argon translates the often intimidating theories of Jean-Paul Sartre into simplistic, bouncy comics art in this breezy introduction to Sartre’s existential philosophy. A goofy, cartoony rat in a maze stops running long enough to ponder the meaning of life: is it enough to “chase the cheese,” or could there be more to existence? As he traverses the maze, new possibilities and questions arise. In concise, well-organized chapters, the comic finds bite-size approaches to expansive concepts like the nature of reality, the experience of time, ways of understanding the self and others, and whether freedom and choice are illusions. The metaphor of humans as lab rats is sometimes taken to amusing extremes, with the rodent protagonist holding debates with fellow rats and solemnly mulling over deep thoughts like “this piece lacks cheese because it’s me who lacks cheese” and the inevitable mixed-in Shakespearean “cheese or not cheese, that is the question.” The clip art–reminiscent drawings aren’t particularly distinctive, and feature much animal-gesticulating and occasional pie (cheese) charts, but they’re effective in illustrating even complex, abstract ideas with clarity. Designed for the studious and dabblers alike, this guide works as an accessible primer on one of the 20th century’s weightiest thinkers. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/30/2020
Release date: 04/01/2020
Genre: Comics
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