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Nausea Paperback – May 23, 2007
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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
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You can read the other reviews for what the book is about. My take on it is that it is a very thought-provoking, and sometimes confusing (in a good way) way of thinking. I really was not following the beginning of the book ("What is the point of this book?!"), but, as other reviewers' suggested, I kept reading and about 1/2 or 2/3 or the way through, it came together.
During the last third, you really get an insight of the main character's mind/way of thinking. It lays out a bare existence of reality, which, to some means it is bleak, while to others it means it is hopeful. Sartre was of the latter view and this is how I suggest you read/interpret it. It is actually quite beautiful in the way that it can provoke these two views simultaneously.
I initially bought Being and Nothingness, then was suggested the Transcendental Ego as an intro, and then was suggested Nausea as a prelude into those other books. I think this is a good order to read the books, if you want to get anything out of Being and Nothingness (Nausea -> Transcendental Ego->Being and Nothingness).
Keep reading until the end! It's a short book and won't take forever. If you are invested in trying to understand Being and Nothingness (which is a behemoth and will take forever to read), read this first, along with Transcendental Ego, so you don't feel like you're wasting time on B&N.
I was actually surprised how much a French history course from my college days came up here. I instantly thought of the idea of the flaneur, which was essentially a person who walked, wandered around, and just observed. Roquentin spends a lot of time as a flaneur, wandering around Paris and observing the lives of others. His perceived invisibility during his walks make him seem very much in the tradition of Baudrillard’s flaneur. These are the guys that stare at you when you’re out at the store.
I’ll be honest–I read Nausea in tandem with the Sparknotes on the novel. The novel is under 200 pages, but there’s a lot to unpack in this novel, and there are a lot of cultural references that I wanted to be sure I wouldn’t miss. This is the type of novel that all novels should aspire to be--every detail is significant.
Roquentin looks to the Marquis de Rollebon to try to figure out his own existence, but he struggles to find anything definitive about the past, so he is forced to turn to the present. Even Roquentin’s writings about Rollebon seem more like they’re based on his own life, so he’s also calling objectivity into question. Finally, by comparing his own life to that of the Marquis, Roquentin brings up the idea of a duality present in existentialism–the conscious self and the kind of internal “other” that observes that conscious self. To Roquentin, little seems to make sense.
And this was only about 50 pages in. See what I mean?
The book is of course multifaceted, but I always felt like that was the major thing the book was trying to accomplish.
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far from satisfying my expectations.Read more