Jonathan Rauch in an ATLANTIC essay back in 2003 which is still going strong online quotes Jean-Paul SARTRE as saying “Hell l is other people at breakfast’ but it is a fake quote: Sartre never said that!

How come a smart person like Rauch doesn’t know that and didn’t fact check the faux quote and didn’t correct it yet online at Atlantic’s website?

 When esteemed writer Jonathan Rauch who writes for the National Journal and the Atlantic wrote in a 2003 Atlantic piece about introverts and extroverts that French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once said “Hell is other people are breakfast,” his faux quote was picked up by hundreds of bloggers and readers around the world who now believe that Sartre actually said that. He said no such thing.

In Sartre’s famous play titled NO EXIT, Sartre wrote in French: “L’enfer, c’est les autres” which means ”Hell is other people.” Period, Nothing about breakfast, Not one word about breakfast. But Rauch, mixing up his p’s and q’s, did quote Sartre that way. Back in 2003. And he still has not corrected his, er, gaffe.

This led one blogger in Africa to note recently on her blog: “Alain’s gone to the market this morning without me. We usually go together on Saturday mornings for each week’s produce and essentials. But today I needed some time alone. My friend Charlie recently sent me an article from 2003 in ‘The Atlantic’ about the nature of introverts. The author calls on Sartre with the quote, “Hell is other people at breakfast.”

Oops. And her blog was echoed by dozens, hundreds of other blogs, that quote the faux Sartre quote as if it was real, and at this point in time, even after several polite emails to Monsieur Rauch, usually a very smart and perceptive writer, the Atlantic misquote has not been corrected online. How much longer must one wait for Jonathan to wake up and admit he made a huge gaffe that has resounded around the world.

Poor Jean-Paul Sartre. He must be turning over in his grave after eating breakfast in Hell. Of course, that is where all existentialists go!

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