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Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre
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Nausea (1938)

by Jean-Paul Sartre

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,54551715 (3.78)155
  1. 40
    Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky (trillkhidr)
    trillkhidr: Perhaps an obvious connection, but one that I nevertheless could not fail to return to again and again throughout my reading of Nausea. Is Antoine a man underground?
  2. 20
    The Words by Jean-Paul Sartre (John_Vaughan, John_Vaughan)
  3. 20
    The Stranger by Albert Camus (roby72)
  4. 10
    The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke (roby72)
  5. 10
    The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley (kaityjames)
    kaityjames: Huxley views art as a pale imitation of objects as they ARE; Sartre finds existence disgusting and obscene, and art as a beautiful form above and beyond reality. Definitely compatible if you can dig Sartre's dark, existential language.
  6. 10
    Homo Faber by Max Frisch (thecoroner)
  7. 10
    The Moviegoer by Walker Percy (erezv)
  8. 00
    Les Mains Sales de Jean-Paul Sartre by Marc Buffat (John_Vaughan)
  9. 00
    The Time of Indifference by Alberto Moravia (JuliaMaria)
  10. 00
    Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline (thecoroner)
  11. 00
    The Passion According to G.H. by Clarice Lispector (Mouseear)
  12. 00
    The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (SamuelW)
    SamuelW: Although The Remains of the Day has none of Nausea's philosophical depth, there are close similarities in theme, plot and technique which make the two books a remarkable pair.
  13. 01
    Dead Certainties : Unwarranted Speculations by Simon Schama (Sea92)
    Sea92: Nausea is more of a philosophical work, but both authors explore chasm between the reality of the past and history as it is written. These are issues that historians must deal with.
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» See also 155 mentions

English (37)  Italian (4)  Swedish (3)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  French (1)  All languages (50)
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
3.5 - 4 ( )
  subpleiades | Feb 21, 2019 |


Originally published in 1938, Jean-Paul Sartre's short existential novel La Nausée can be read on many levels - to list several: philosophical, psychological, social and political. Going back to my college days, my reading of this work has always been decidedly personal. Thus my observations below and, at points, my own experiences relating to certain passages I have found to contain great power.

"Then the Nausea sized me, I dropped to a seat. I no longer knew where I was; I saw the colors spin slowly around me, I wanted to vomit." ---------- The entire novel is written in the form of a diary of one Antoine Roquentin, an unemployed historian living in the small fictional city of Bouville on the northern French coast in 1932. Roquentin's Nausea (his capital) isn't occasional or a revulsion to anything specific, the smell of a certain room or being in the presence of a particular group of people; no, his Nausea is all pervasive: life in all of its various manifestations nauseates him.

I recall a time back one muggy afternoon, age eighteen, sitting in a locker room, waiting to take the field for a practice session with the other players on the football team, forced to listen to a coach’s ravings, I suddenly felt repulsed and disgusted by everything and everybody around me. Like Roquentin, I wanted to vomit. When the other players ran out to take the field, I remained seated. Then, calmly walking over to the equipment room, I turned in my uniform and pads. When I walked away I felt as if I shed an ugly layer of skin, a repugnant old self. I felt clearheaded and refreshed; I had a vivid sense of instant transformation.

I can imagine Roquentin in a somewhat similar plight but, unfortunately, there's no escape. He's the prisoner of an impossible situation: all of life, every bit of it, gives him his Nausea.

"Nothing happens while you live. The scenery changes, people come in and out, that's all. There are no beginnings. Days are tacked on to days without rhyme or reason, an interminable monotonous addition." ---------- This was my experience when in my 20s and 30s working in a suffocating insurance office. It didn't matter what time the clock said on the wall - all the hours were a dull, humdrum grey. When I left the office: a great sense of freedom and release.

For Roquentin there is no release - all of his small city, every street, park, café, library, parlor and bedroom carries this sense of humdrum dreariness - all times and places have turned dank, shadowy and lackluster as if emitting a soft unending groan.

"It's finished: the crowd is less congested, the hat-raisings less frequent, the shop windows have something less exquisite about them. I am at the end of the Rue Tournebride. Shall I cross and go up the street on the other side? I think I have had enough: I have seen enough pink skulls, thin, distinguished and faded countenances." ------ I recall walking in New York City to Penn Station to catch a train at the end of the day. The scene was grim, the vast majority of men and women having a hangdog, beaten down look. I was ready to leave. Roquintin has this feeling not only at the end of the day - he has it all the time.

"I have only my body: a man entirely alone, with his lonely body, cannot indulge in memories; they pass through him. I shouldn't complain: all I wanted was to be free." ---------- An entire section of Sartre's Being and Nothingness is devoted to the body. In many ways Roquintin is like Pablo from Sartre's short story The Wall where Pablo feels being in his body is like being tied to an enormous vermin. Ahhh! No wonder Roquintin feels the Nausea.

"He deserves his face for he has never, for one instant, lost an occasion of utilizing his past to the best of his ability; he has stuffed it full, used his experience on women and children, exploited them." ---------- Here Roquintin is alluding to an older man who is using his family to make a point displaying how wise he is and how correct his judgements. In this I'm in agreement with the novel's protagonist - I find such people overbearing. I was once in conversation with an older person who actually told me, as a way of discounting my position on a political matter: "You have to live a little," all the while hitting the scotch bottle. Curiously, a few years later, thanks mainly to all the scotch, this know-it-all was in very bad shape. I maintained a noble silence.

"But I would have to push the door open and enter. I didn't dare; I went on. Doors of houses frightened me especially. I was afraid they would open of themselves. I ended by walking in the middle of the street." ---------- The narrator's sense of dread and estrangement has reached a point where even objects take on an ominous cast.

"I had thought out this sentence, at first it had been a small part of myself. Now it was inscribed on the paper, it sides against me. I didn't recognize it any more. i couldn't conceive it again. It was there, in front of me; in vain for me to trace some sign of origin. Anyone could have written it." ---------- Yet again another example of his extreme alienation - the very words he writes on a page are viewed as something apart, as "the other," having nothing to do with who he really is as a person.

"Now I wanted to laugh. five feet tall! . . . I would have had to lean over or bend my knees. I was no longer surprised that he held up his nose so impetuously: the destiny of these small men is always working itself out a few inches about their head. Admirable power of art. From this shrill-voiced manikin, nothing would pass on to posterity same a threatening face, a superb gesture and the bloodshot eyes of a bull." ---------- The portrait captures what Sartre in his philosophy termed "bad faith" - assuming false values that have turned him into a "shrill-voiced manikin."

"I jump up: it would be much better if I could only stop thinking. Thoughts are the dullest things. Duller than flesh. They stretch out and there's no end to them and they leave a funny taste in the mouth." ---------- The mind is a wonderful servant but an ogre if it becomes one's taskmaster. How many people are trapped in their own thinking, continually reliving painful episodes of their past? Roquintin is one such example in the extreme.

"Things are divorced from their names. They are there, grotesque, headstrong, gigantic and it seems ridiculous to call them seats or say anything at all about them: I am in the midst of things, nameless things." ---------- His Nausea has increased. All inanimate objects and situations are encroaching on what he perceives his intellectual and spiritual freedom.

Does Nausea sound disturbing? I strongly suspect this is exactly Jean-Paul Sartre's intent.


Jean-Paul Sartre, 1905-1980, French philosopher and author of a number of classic works of literature.
  Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |
I'd just read about this book in another book, but I can't for the life of me remember where. So it was an easy sell when I bumped into it at Eighth Day Books, particularly as I really liked the cover.

Given what I thought I knew about it, I expected this book to be far more difficult to read than it was. Granted, there were certainly a few passages where I struggled to stay engaged -- particularly the whole bit with the portraits of the town fathers, which went on far too long -- but other bits were so startlingly familiar and/or relatable.

I have a lot of thoughts about where I did and didn't identify with the narrator, Antoine. More than I will probably go into here, but I do wonder how much of Antoine's nausea was caused by his self-sufficiency. Antoine's income or savings was enough to allow him to travel all over the world doing research for a book he was writing. He could stay in boarding houses, eat out for all his meals, while away his hours in his rooms, at the library, walking around town. He seems to have no obligations to any other person, with no mentions of family, and his only relationships with the Self-Taught Man, whom he looks down on, and Anny, who seems similarly rootless and disaffected, and with whom he was a very stilted relationship. (And no, I'm not counting the barmaid he regularly shtups as an actual relationship.) I cannot help but wonder what such an existential crisis would look like on a woman, or someone with bills to pay.

Looking back, as much as I found many passages very affecting and familiar, I also end up feeling a little impatient with the whole thing in the end. ( )
1 vote greeniezona | Feb 3, 2018 |
I'm proud of myself for getting through this novel. The characters were dull, the setting uninteresting, and the plot bland.
The philosophy -- the reason I read the book -- was hidden and inaccessible. Most damning of all, the thoughts could very well be contained in a few paragraphs.
That's all they were-- thoughts. Our author didn't bother to offer anything in the way of proof or explanation for any of his ravings.
I give the novel two stars solely because the title had the decency to warn me what I would feel. ( )
  MithridatesVI | Jun 19, 2017 |
I liked some of it, but then I lost interest. ( )
  JennysBookBag.com | Sep 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Sartre's name, I understand, is associated with a fashionable brand of cafe philosophy and since for every so-called "existentialist" one finds quite a few "suctorialists" (if I may coin a polite term), this made-in- England translation of Sartre's first novel, "La Nausée" (published in Paris in 1938) should enjoy some success. It is hard to imagine except in a farce) a dentist persistently pulling out the wrong tooth. Publishers and translators, however, seem to get away with something of that sort. Lack of space limits me to only these examples of Mr. Alexander's blunders.
 

» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sartre, Jean-Paulprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aardweg, H.P. v.d.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Alexander, LloydTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baldick, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carp, E. A. D. E.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carruth, HaydenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Caruso, PaoloContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fonzi, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mannerkorpi, JuhaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
'He is a fellow without any collective significance, barely an individual.'
L. F. Céline, The Church
Dedication
TO THE BEAVER
First words
These notebooks were found among the papers of Antoine Roquentin. ("Editors' Note")
The best thing would be to write down events from day to day.
Quotations
"I live in the past. I take everything that has happened to me and arrange it. From a distance like that, it doesn't do any harm, you'd almost let yourself be caught in it. Our whole story is fairly beautiful. I give it a few prods and it makes a whole string of perfect moments. Then I close my eyes and try to imagine that I'm still living inside it."
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Book description
Dopo aver viaggiato a lungo, Antoine Roquentin si stabilisce a Bouville, in uno squallido albergo vicino alla stazione, per scrivere una tesi di dottorato in storia. La sera, si siede al tavolo di un bistrot ad ascoltare un disco, sempre lo stesso: Some of These Days. La sua vita ormai non ha piú senso: il passato è abitato da Anny, mentre il presente è sempre piú sommerso da una sensazione dolce e orribile, insinuante, che ha nome Nausea. Un romanzo trasgressivo e ricchissimo, sempre attuale, che ci restituisce il disagio del mondo in agonia alla vigilia della Seconda guerra mondiale. Il libro piú libero di Sartre, il piú disinteressato e il piú appassionato insieme. 
(piopas)
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811217000, Paperback)

The classic Existentialist novel, with a new introduction by renowned poet, translator, and critic Richard Howard.

Winner of the 1964 Nobel Prize for Literature, Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher, critic, novelist, and dramatist, holds a position of singular eminence in the world of letters. Among readers and critics familiar with the whole of Sartre's work, it is generally recognized that his earliest novel, La Nausée (first published in 1938), is his finest and most significant. It is unquestionably a key novel of the twentieth century and a landmark in Existentialist fiction.

Nausea is the story of Antoine Roquentin, a French writer who is horrified at his own existence. In impressionistic, diary form he ruthlessly catalogues his every feeling and sensation. His thoughts culminate in a pervasive, overpowering feeling of nausea which "spreads at the bottom of the viscous puddle, at the bottom of our time—the time of purple suspenders and broken chair seats; it is made of wide, soft instants, spreading at the edge, like an oil stain." Roquentin's efforts to come to terms with life, his philosophical and psychological struggles, give Sartre the opportunity to dramatize the tenets of his Existentialist creed.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:34 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

French writer who is horrified at his own existence. In impressionistic, diary form he ruthlessly catalogues his every feeling and sensation. His thoughts culminate in a pervasive, overpowering feeling of nausea which "spreads at the bottom of the viscous puddle, at the bottom of our time the time of purple suspenders and broken chair seats. Roquentin's efforts to come to terms with life, his philosophical and psychological struggles, give Sartre the opportunity to dramatize the tenets of his Existentialist creed.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014118549X, 0141194847

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