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Nausea (New Directions Paperbook)

124 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0811201889
ISBN-10: 0811201880
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Editorial Reviews


It is the most enjoyable book Sartre has ever written. -- A.J. Liebling, 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. --Harvey Swados, New York Post

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions Paperbook (Book 82)
  • Paperback: 178 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation (January 1, 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811201880
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811201889
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Novelist, playwright, and biographer Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-80) is widely considered one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. His major works include "No Exit," "Nausea," "The Wall," "The Age of Reason," "Critique of Dialectical Reason," "Being and Nothingness," and "Roads to Freedom," an allegory of man's search for commitment, and not, as the man at the off-licence says, an everyday story of French country folk.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

185 of 195 people found the following review helpful By Damian Kelleher on October 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
With his first novel, Sartre began to explore what would later come to be known as existentialism, or the philosophy that: 'Holds that there is no intrinsic meaning or purpose, therefore it is up to each individual to determine his own meaning and purpose and take responsibility for his actions'. While this line of philosophical thought does have its origins in Kierkegaard, it was in the writings of Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus and Sartre that these ideas were fully developed.

Antoine Roquentin is a solitary man, recently afflicted with a recurrent feeling, one that he terms 'the Nausea'. At times, he feels that life is repugnant, a vapid, shallow game between mindless people who have no real idea of their own purpose or consequence, himself included. At first he dismisses these feelings as the typical lonely thoughts of an ageing academic who is unable to complete the book he has been researching for years, but as the feeling continues and he is able to examine himself with greater and greater clarity, Roquentin begins to learn that maybe he has stumbled upon one of the great truths of our reality.

He discovers that there is no essence, no importance in motion or in the petty labels that people like to attach to themselves and others in a bid to catalogue the world and everything in it, and by cataloguing, to control. He reasons that we are essentially impossible to control, that each person exists because they exist, and for no other reason that that. The terms of our existence are unspecific, but clear. We do not exist to be pawns to a god, or to move the path of humanity forward. Instead, we exist simply to exist, we are an end unto ourselves, and the inherent absurdity in our lives means that a meaningful existence is impossible and even blasphemous.
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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Nausea is not an easy book to read, not because of length or complexity of writing but because it forces the reader to confront some of the most frightening questions about life. The plot is largely uneventful, and yet this is where the majority of the book's philosophical questions arise. It's amidst the mundane, the every-day, the common interactions in life wherein the main character Roquentin questions the foundations of reality: what is this world I live in? why am I here? what does my life mean?
The thing Roquentin encounters most dramatically is existence: dull, ever-present, unable to be explained, a hidden and dumb force that waits silently behind the meanings we ascribe to it. And it is this force, the force of existence, which is the ultimate source of humility, for in it all of our actions are rendered meaningless.
Why do we do what we do? What are our motivations, our ambitions, and why do we have them? Sartre explores questions like these in a variety of daily situations and presents a concept of reality that has no mercy for the squeamish mind. He approaches his reader with such intensity that one cannot look away, one is forced to follow his reasoning to its unconventional and disturbing conclusions. Still, as the introduction points out, "Coming for the first time to the works of Sartre, Japsers, or Camus is often like reading, on page after page, one's own intimate thoughts and feelings, expressed with new precision and concreteness."
This is an excellent novel, very thought-provoking, best approached with an open mind and the courage to listen patiently to that which may frighten one the most. Regardless of your reaction to it, Nausea will have you thinking for quite some time afterward.
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67 of 74 people found the following review helpful By David Harrison on February 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Nausea is one of the most powerful literary experiences one can find. The form of the novel enables us to enter into Sartre's brilliant (and warped)mind. There is a sort of inexplicable energy that keeps on pushing you to read further and further- it is impossible to put this book down. The work can be appreciated as a novel for the quality of the story, but can also be understood as a powerful argument for Sartre's existentialist philosophy. He takes the reader through different alternatives to realizing that one's knowledge of one's existence makes one sick or creates nausea. Common escapes such as glorifying the past, the hope of relentless self-improvement,placing faith in love, are all explored and dramatically proven by Sartre to be false delusions to the truth that human existence is sickening.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Lupei on November 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is not a review of the literary prowess of the work of Jean-Paul Sartre; this is a review of the horribly lackadaisical attitude towards editing that allowed this edition to be sent to press. I would only accept the quality of this book were it a pre-press proof.

Many portions of this edition are rife with typos. Most are simple juxtapositions of letters, but some horrendous substitutions of words make sections of the book nearly unreadable without consulting the original text. The translation is at times clunky and dated, but at worst, inaccurate.

For example, on page 170, an oft cited passage originally phrased as "Personne. Pour personne, Antoine Roquentin n'existe. Ça m'amuse." instead reads: "No one. Antoine Roquentin exists for on one. That amuses me." It doesn't amuse me. With the original text by their side, even one who does not speak French can identify the blatant error allowed to pass here.

Additionally, quotation marks at times encapsulate the non-quoted portions of sentences.

The book, 4 stars.
The quality of the publication, 1 star.

The poor editing in this edition makes it far more difficult to read than it should be. Do yourself a favor: go to the library and get a different, readable out-of-print edition if you can find one, and save your cash for a book that is truly deserving.
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