- Paperback: 186 pages
- Publisher: New Directions (23 April 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0811220303
- ISBN-13: 978-0811220309
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,87,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Nausea (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – 23 Apr 2013
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It is the most enjoyable book Sartre has ever written. — The New Yorker
The best-written and most interesting of Sartre's novels. — Atlantic Monthly
With Nausea Sartre has succeeded magnificently—and horribly—in extending the realm of the novel to the outermost reaches of naked self-examination. — The New York Post
About the Author
James Wood, the prominent critic, essayist, and novelist, is a professor at Harvard and a staff writer for The New Yorker. Born in Durham, England, he began his career at The Guardian and later became a senior editor at The New Republic. He currently serves on the editorial board of The London Review of Books and The Common in Cambridge, MA. His books include The Irresponsible Self: On Laughter and the Novel, How Fiction Works, and, most recently, The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays.
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Penguin publishers have given me a bad experience
Nausea is written in the form of a diary of a fictional writer Antoine Roquentin. To read it, one does not have to be familiar with the writer or any of the characters. I picked this book with little idea of who Sartre is and I can say I enjoyed this book thoroughly by attempting this blunt manner. It begins as Roquentin begins his diary to record things. In diary's preface, a reader can transparently observe that Roquentin has been travelling for many years and has now returned back in France.
On the brink of his thirtieth birthday, Rouqentin is undertaking a scholarly project in a small town of Bouville (based on Le Havre) and has settled on writing a biography of Marquis de Rollebon, a figure in the French Revolution. In the narrative, a reader can observe that Roquentin leads an isolated life, spending much of his days working through papers in local library and his evenings in cafes and restaurants. In this isolation, he find has little contact with other humans as he occasionally makes love to a cafe owner that too without any emotion and sometimes gets involved in small conversations with another library user.
In this isolation, as Roquentin calls it, suffers from Nausea. He describes it as a sense of meaninglessness in existence with other individual bodies. The purpose of Antoine's starting a diary is to understand his own documentation on the matter of Nausea that he suffers. It is a process of self-reflection and that is the first important thing to catch if you reading this novel. During this process, Roquentin cannot help but notices that same loneliness that pervades his own life in others around him. This loneliness is a representation of never-ending existence in which every individual is surrounded by though each have their own experiences with it.
"I exist by what I think … and I can’t prevent myself from thinking."
Roquentin realises he was much happier before this feeling of meaninglessness in his past, before he came across this perception of the world. With contrary terms and conditions of being in existence Roquentin realises that anyone that exists is free but the contradiction arouses when one realises that he has achieved the sense of freedom and that becomes overwhelming. This is the paradox of immense freedom that is heavily burdened that Sartre wants his readers to be aware of and the whole point of self-reflection of Antoine Roquentin in his diary. Since this book is written in the form of a diary, it might be a bit opaque to clearly understand Sartre's philosophy which is to explore the nature of existence and the challenge faced by an individual who becomes conscious of this thought. I think it is a good start and as I earlier said, is the basis of his later works.
Roquentin is delighted as he welcomes back his former girlfriend and hopes that her love will cure him of his Nausea. However, on being rejected by her he once again finds his own existence repulsive. He then resolves his isolation by deciding to work on a creative project of writing a novel that might be helpful as an antidote to his Nausea.
To read this novel, one does not have to love it or as Roquentin expresses his views on humanism, "Nor do I hate it!." Sartre does well to engage his readers in this terrifying (from philosophical point of view) and intense first person narrative. Beautifully written, this is the kind of work that demands complete attention from its reader. Like me, when reading this novel, you might not start appreciating Sartre's effort that produced this novel but you will, as I have, to start appreciating it as we dwell more and more into reality.
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