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La nausée

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Donc j'étais tout à l'heure au Jardin public. La racine du marronnier s'enfonçait dans la terre, juste au-dessous de mon banc. Je ne me rappelais plus que c'était une racine. Les mots s'étaient évanouis et, avec eux, la signification des choses, leurs modes d'emploi, les faibles repères que les hommes ont tracés à leur surface. J'étais assis, un peu voûté, la tête basse, seul en face de cette masse noire et noueuse entièrement brute et qui me faisait peur. Et puis j'ai eu cette illumination. Ça m'a coupé le souffle. Jamais, avant ces derniers jours, je n'avais pressenti ce que voulait dire " exister ".

250 pages, Pocket Book

First published January 1, 1938

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About the author

Jean-Paul Sartre

980 books10.4k followers
Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre, normally known simply as Jean-Paul Sartre, was a French existentialist philosopher and pioneer, dramatist and screenwriter, novelist and critic. He was a leading figure in 20th century French philosophy.

He declined the award of the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his work which, rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom and the quest for truth, has exerted a far-reaching influence on our age."

In the years around the time of his death, however, existentialism declined in French philosophy and was overtaken by structuralism, represented by Levi-Strauss and, one of Sartre's detractors, Michel Foucault.

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Profile Image for Jahn Sood.
8 reviews81 followers
June 9, 2007
I put a longer review of this book / a journal entry that I wrote while I was reading it in "my writing" since it was too long for this page.

Nausea is not a good thing to have as the only thing that belongs to you, and even worse as the only thing that you belong to. It is sickening and dark and so terribly everyday that it gets inside you if you let it. Sartre writes beautifully and describes the physical world in such incredible detail, that if you are a reader, and even more if you are a writer, you want to keep going and never put it down, but if you are not emotionally stable enough to handle the fact that you might have done nothing but existing, don't read this book. If you are jaded by love don't read this book. If you almost lost your self in desire, don't read this book. Probably nobody should read this book. Then again, if you are like me and obsessed with words and the art that comes from darkness and the study of lonliness, then this is a work of genius. Its beautifully written, terrifying and intense. So go ahead, but at your own risk, and when you freak the hell out, don't tell anyone that it was me who recommended that you mess with Sartre.
Profile Image for Florencia.
649 reviews1,912 followers
January 10, 2018
Roquentin, Meursault; Meursault, Roquentin. Now, go outside, grab a cup of coffee and have fun. I'll be here, sitting on the floor surrounded by cupcakes, ice cream and some twisted books, like an existentialist Bridget Jones, just contemplating my own ridiculous existence, thanks to you guys and your crude and insightful comments about life and its inevitable absurdity.

It is a tough read. Especially if you feel like a giant failure that never lived, but existed (to live, one of the rarest thing in the world, according to another great writer). I don't know about the life situation (and mental health condition) of you people out there, so I will certainly avoid the pressure of recommending this book. At the same time, I wish everyone could enjoy Sartre's beautiful writing. Yes, that is beautiful. And not too difficult to understand.

A couple of samples:
"Something has happened to me, I can't doubt it any more. It came as an illness does, not like an ordinary certainty, not like anything evident. It came cunningly, little by little; I felt a little strange, a little put out, that's all. Once established it never moved, it stayed quiet, and I was able to persuade myself that nothing was the matter with me, that it was a false alarm. And now, it's blossoming."

"When you live alone you no longer know what it is to tell a story: the plausible disappears at the same time as the friends." (So simple and true.)

"If I could keep myself from thinking! I try, and succeed: my head seems to fill with smoke... and then it starts again: "Smoke . . . not to think . . . don't want to think . . . I think I don't want to think. I mustn't think that I don't want to think. Because that's still a thought." Will there never be an end to it? My thought is me: that's why I can't stop. I exist because I think . . . and I can't stop myself from thinking. At this very moment - it's frightful - if I exist, it is because I am horrified at existing."

"They did not want to exist, only they could not help themselves... Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance."

"You know, it's quite a job starting to love somebody. You have to have energy, generosity, blindness. There is even a moment, in the very beginning, when you have to jump across a precipice: if you think about it you don't do it. I know I'll never jump again." (NEVER)

His words are lethal. And real. And that's a dangerous mix. He shares some thoughts that a lot of people can relate to, and, in most cases, those people won't know what to do with all that. I know I don't. Besides feeling sick, what can you do? Write a book? Eat more ice cream? Go skydiving? Plan a round-the-world trip? Quit your job and live in the country, eating raspberries? Oh, to face the absurdity of the world and to feel free because of that. To stop this never-ending search for meaning. To live. To live? A rare thing, indeed. (Oh dear, I sound like a self-help author.)

This was the first time I read Sartre. I've read the brilliant, the one and only, the master at describing the human condition, Dostoevsky; Camus, whose works I really like too; Kierkegaard, the pioneer. So, Sartre was a must-read. Those authors speak right to my soul (wherever that is), they get me (well, not Kierkegaard; at least, not that much. It's complicated. We're cool, though). It's a comforting feeling... being understood by some dead writers you'll never meet, obviously.
Okay. So, I loved this book. It's a new favorite of mine. And I need some Seinfeld reruns now.

Note to self: if you're ever going to re-read this, don't do it while listening to Enya, Craig Armstrong or Joy Division. It wasn't a nice feeling.

Feb 03, 14

* Also on my blog.
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
972 reviews17.6k followers
April 28, 2023

His Nausea is an undisputed MASTERPIECE. But like me at my coming of age, he covered up its huge insights into his own failings behind a Facade of Self-Deception.

In this book, Sartre saw correctly that our world is Crazy Sick. But by sidestepping the problem of his own sickness through Reason, he made it worse for himself. And in the end he died of it.

That’s his problem. If we don’t admit we’re all infected with this Crazy Sickness, we won’t seek - or find - REAL HELP. We’ll be in Terminal Denial. We all need Help.

Don't get me wrong. I think nausea IS the only authentic reaction to modern life. Hypocrisy sickens, of course - we Christians call it Sin - and Sartre is at least right in that. He refers to it as Facticity - the nauseated Dread that we who cling to virtue have of hypocrites.

But then, afterward, acceptance of all that is ESSENTIAL. Gotta bite the bullet. Smile politely and walk away! What else can we do?

The other day, I decided to skim this novel again, after so many years had passed since I read it, and was thunderstruck. Why? Because it describes exactly the same experience I had 50 years ago! It’s an experience which has continued uninterrupted since that time - see my Kindle notes.

When I read this book in the 1980´s I must have ignored its meaning.

It was Crazy Sickness. It’s everywhere. It’s the Barthian experience of the Alterity of God.

Sartre, ever the pessimistic atheist, thought it was the perception of the nothingness of middle-class values. And that’s too bad.

T.S. Eliot says some people have the experience and miss the meaning. Many are called but few are chosen.

So most folks, perhaps, prize this epiphany in their memory for the rest of their lives but are not fundamentally changed by it. Fred Buechner, though, said we have to SPEAK FROM OUR PAIN...

And to see results after such a satori, hard work must follow. And I wrestled with it, as I say, for 50 years. It was a long, cold, hard slog. Until, finally, peace and freedom ensued.

But Roquentin - Sartre - just endured its temporary internal pressure for a while, and then continued toward pure futility on his angry, counter cultural way. With great anguish.

So it’s a groundbreaking novel about the thunderous, dual irruption of being and facticity into a young man’s life, and for him everything is left in the air for the one who experiences it.

You know, it always happens in exactly this way.

For at that very moment when we try to seize the prize of Pure Being for ourselves we are necessarily forced to wrestle with a phony world of Being-for-Others - becoming ACTORS in a world we didn’t create.

The result is earthshaking for poor, nondescript Roquentin! He, like unlucky Prometheus, has suddenly and shamefacedly stolen Fire from the gods. And a pretty tawdry bunch of gods they’ve turned out to be in his judgemental eyes.

But Roquentin grabbed the stick by the Wrong end. You just have to just KEEP GOING - and d*mn the Torpedoes!

Once you cross that invisible line in front of your unwary feet, the world falls on its stunned head, and proper orientation is anyone’s guess.

Where truth lies now is in unending aporia... a banal flux for Sartre, who had like Nietzsche, transvalued all traditional values, and suddenly:

All is changed, changed UTTERLY -
A Terrible Beauty is born!

A similar thing happened to me when I was a kid. It was pivotal in my development and in my choices as an adult. I had to choose, and fast! It’s like George Santayana said: one day you wake up and realize “life’s not a spectacle - it’s a struggle.”

But for me, it originated from God, I was certain of it. I submitted myself to His Absolute Alterity.

Once you’re on that road, there’s no going back. You can’t go home.

At least at first...

You know, Kafka once wrote a paragraph or two in his notebooks on the Prometheus parable, which describes the anguish that must follow such an experience for us all.

He says, that after incalculable aeons, Prometheus, his chains, and the rock he’s chained to in punishment for his sins, all merge into one continuous solid entity.

That merging is our return to Wholeness. And the ordinary sensory world - totally divested of extraneous pop gobbledygook - is now “magnifique, totale et solitaire”.

For if we endure the factitious encounter with Becoming patiently, and “in good faith”, one day we will merge with the Rock of Being in peace.

It is painfully and near-impossibly difficult.

But that is the Path.

And it is the Path to our Freedom and Wholeness.

One hundred years before Sartre penned this novel, a great Dane suffered the same cataclysmic bifurcation of his being - and, at first, the same unutterable anguish. For him it led to Wholeness too.

His name was Søren Kierkegaard.

But - crucially, and in stark contradistinction to Sartre - Kierkegaard found blessed release from it in the end. Sporadically at first, but you can see final freedom was there.

You can see his solution in his short masterwork Fear and Trembling...

Through a series of subtle and cuttingly double-edged variations on the old, old story of Abraham and Isaac - the original sacrifice - he lays the immovable foundation of Postmodernist Christian Faith.

Seen from almost every possible type of viewpoint out of a myriad range of possibilities.

And his ineluctable inner logic overpowered all his naysayers.

In fact Fear and Trembling paved the way for such modern cutting-edge Christians as Karl Barth and Hans Kung, both the brains trust and the conscientious soul of our new 21st century churches - institutions that seem to the untrained eye to be so out of touch.

Perhaps they’re only out of touch to the jaundiced eyes of Big Brother Media. Just try to look at it all a bit deeper! These thinkers are the substance under the New Christians’ (somewhat regrettable) glitter. All that glitters is not gold:

You’ve gotta KNOW yourself as well as the World. By dissing the world you’re just digging a bigger hole.

And though Sartre somewhat hastily discarded Modern Faith out of hand, we don’t necessarily have to make the same despairing mistake, nor would we have to undergo any more desperate Sartrian anguish, if we chose to do otherwise...

and Believe.

For the choice we can make, right now, is for Real Inner Peace. The peace of a painfully and patiently stoic Promethean Rock...

Which must appear also to be in this ugly world, for so many of us, the Transcendence of a troubled Cross.

But that for us is The Only Way, the Only Truth and the Only Life.

And that way Works.

Roquentin’s doesn’t.

We must Accept, and NOT Eternally Reject the Truth.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
August 12, 2021
(Book 602 from 1001 books) - La Nausée = Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre

Nausea is a philosophical novel by the existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, published in 1938. It is Sartre's first novel and, in his opinion, one of his best works.

Antoine Roquentin protagonist of the novel, is a former adventurer who has been living in Bouville for three years. Antoine does not keep in touch with family, and has no friends.

He is a loner at heart and often likes to listen to other people's conversationsو and examine their actions. He settles in the fictional French seaport town of Bouville to finish his research on the life of an 18th-century political figure.

But during the winter of 1932 a "sweetish sickness," as he calls nausea, increasingly impinges on almost everything he does or enjoys: his research project, the company of an autodidact who is reading all the books, in the local library alphabetically, a physical relationship with a café owner named Françoise, his memories of Anny, an English girl he once loved, even his own hands and the beauty of nature.

Even though he at times admits to trying to find some sort of solace in the presence of others, he also exhibits signs of boredomو and lack of interest when interacting with people.

His relationship with Françoise is mostly hygienic in nature, for the two hardly exchange words and, when invited by the Self-Taught Man to accompany him for lunch, he agrees only to write in his diary later that: "I had as much desire to eat with him as I had to hang myself."

He can afford not to work, but spends a lot of his time writing a book about a French politician of the eighteenth century.

Antoine does not think highly of himself: "The faces of others have some sense, some direction. Not mine. I cannot even decide whether it is handsome or ugly. I think it is ugly because I have been told so."

When he starts suffering from the Nausea he feels the need to talk to Anny, but when he finally does, it makes no difference to his condition.

He eventually starts to think he does not even exist: "My existence was beginning to cause me some concern. Was I a mere figment of the imagination?". ...

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «تهوع»؛ «استفراغ»؛ نویسنده: ژان پل سارتر؛ (امیرکبیر، نیلوفر، قائم مقام، فرخی) ادبیات فرانسه؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1987میلادی

عنوان: تهوع؛ نویسنده: ژان پل سارتر؛ مترجم: امیرجلال الدین اعلم؛ تهران، امیرکبیر، 1355، ذر 271ص؛ چاپ دیگر، تهران، نیلوفر، 1365، در 310ص، چاپ سوم، 1371؛ چهارم 1376؛ چاپ پانزدهم، 1396؛ شانزدهم 1397؛ موضوع ادبیات فرانسه - سده 20م

عنوان: تهوع؛ نویسنده: ژان پل سارتر؛ مترجم: حسین سلیمانی نژاد؛ نشر چشمه، 1396، در 251 ص؛ شابک 9786002298881؛
عنوان: استفراغ؛ مترجم: علی صدوقی؛ نشر فرخی؛ سال 1353، در 211ص؛

عنوان: تهوع؛ نویسنده: ژان پل سارتر؛ مترجم: کیومرث پارسای؛ تهران، نشر علم، 1399؛ در 322ص؛ شابک: 9786222461898؛

عنوان: تهوع؛ نویسنده: ژان پل سارتر؛ مترجم:محمود بهفروزی؛ تهران، جامی، 1398؛ در 268ص؛ شابک 9786001761966؛

عنوان: تهوع؛ نویسنده: ژان پل سارتر؛ مترجم: عزیز قنبری؛ گرگان، هفت سنگ؛ در 288ص؛ شابک 9786009485260؛

عنوان: تهوع؛ نویسنده: ژان پل سارتر؛ مترجم: مهرآفرید بیگدلی خمسه؛ تهران، نگارستان کتاب، 1388، در 358ص؛ شابک 9786005541373؛

عنوان: تهوع؛ نویسنده: ژان پل سارتر؛ مترجم: محمدرضا پاسایار؛ تهران، پارسه، 1390؛ در 312ص؛ شابک 9786005733846؛

عنوان: تهوع؛ نویسنده: ژان پل سارتر؛ مترجم:سمیرا بیات؛ در 231ص؛ شابک 9786226199438؛

عنوان: تهوع؛ نویسنده: ژان پل سارتر؛ مترجم:بهمن خسروی؛ تهران، نسل نواندیش؛ 1388، در 372ص؛ شابک 9789644128721؛

عنوان: استفراغ؛ مترجم: احمد بهروز؛ تهران، بنگاه مطبوعات قائم مقام، سال 1345، در 260ص؛

تهوع (استفراغ) راجع به مردی سی ساله، به نام «آنتوان روکانتن»، مورخ افسرده، و گوشه‌ گیری است، که به این باور می‌رسد، که اشیاء بی‌جان، و موقعیت‌های گوناگون، بر تعریف او از خود، و آزادی عقلانی و روحی اش لطمه می‌زنند، و این ناتوانی، او را دچار «تهوع» می‌کند؛ «آنتوان روکانتن» شخصیت اصلی رمان، یک ماجراجوی قدیمی است، که به مدت سه سال در «بویل» زندگی کرده، «آنتوان» رابطه‌ ای با خانواده‌ اش برقرار نمی‌کند، و هیچ دوستی نیز ندارد، او یک انزواطلب است و اغلب دوست دارد به مکالمات دیگر افراد گوش دهد، و اقدامات آنها را بررسی کند؛ «آنتوان» همچنین نشانه‌ هایی از خستگی و فرسودگی را به نمایش می‌گذارد، و با عدم علاقه به تعامل با مردم مواجه است؛ رابطه ی او با «فرانسوا» عمدتاً طبیعی است؛ برای او تبادل کلمات دشوار است؛ اما او بسیاری از وقتش را صرف نوشتن یک کتاب درباره ی یک سیاستمدار «فرانسوی» در سده ی هجده میلادی می‌کند

نقل از متن: (کسی در این قسمت بولوار «نوآر» سکونت ندارد؛ آب و هوایش آنقدر مزخرف و زمینش آنقدر بایر است، که امکان ندارد، در آن‌جا زندگی پا بگیرد و ترقی کند؛ سه کارگاه چوب‌بری برادران «سلی» با تمام درها و پنجره‌هاشان، که مشرف به خیابان آرام «ژان برت کوروآ» هستند، و آن‌ را پر از سر و صدای خرخر و تق‌تق می‌کنند، رو به غرب باز می‌شوند.)؛ پایان

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 11/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 20/04/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,425 reviews3,392 followers
September 20, 2020
The protagonist is a captive of loneliness and time.
This sun and blue sky were only a snare. This is the hundredth time I've let myself be caught. My memories are like coins in the devil's purse: when you open it you find only dead leaves.

For him there are no expectations and no changes in life… The world passes him by…
I can no longer distinguish present from future and yet it lasts, it happens little by little…

So the protagonist becomes nauseated with reality and his purposeless existence turns into a mental torment.
I was just thinking that here we sit, all of us, eating and drinking to preserve our precious existence and really there is nothing, nothing, absolutely no reason for existing.

It comes as no surprise, however… Even God couldn’t find out a reason for his existence: “And God said unto Moses, I am that I am,” Exodus 3:14.
There is a paradox though: Why bother? If existence is meaningless then any philosophy is useless…
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,154 reviews1,693 followers
January 7, 2023

Disegno di Alberto Giacometti.

Libro letto nel momento giusto, quando il termine e la categoria ‘esistenzialismo’ me li sarei potuti scrivere sulle t-shirt, o in fronte.

Leggo che l'editore Gallimard chiese a Sartre di cambiare il titolo, da “Melancholia” a “La nausea”, giudicando il primo poco attraente per i lettori. Una bella lotta.
Altrettanto buffo è che Sartre abbia sentito il bisogno di un impianto tanto classico. Perché, anche se lo fa dichiarare ai suoi editori, l’espediente che avvia il romanzo è per l’appunto un super classico: manoscritto ritrovato, diario di un certo Roquentin, che s’è ritirato a vivere in provincia per fare ricerche su un tizio del secolo XVIII, tale marchese di Rollebon.

Alberto Giacometti: Annette.

Oltre Roquentin, che parla in prima persona, s’incontra qualche altro personaggio degno di nota, pochi a dir il vero. Su tutti, l’Autodidatta che Roquentin incrocia in biblioteca: l’Autodidatta è intento a leggere, e possibilmente, imparare lo scibile umano seguendo l’ordine alfabetico. Bell’impresa.
Appare anche un compositore musicale ebreo e una cantante di colore, Some of These Days è la sua canzone.

Sotto forma di diario, racconti, soprattutto pensieri e riflessioni, sul senso della vita, che senso non ha, sulla solitudine, sull’angoscia. Mal di vivere.
La Nausea non è in me: io la sento laggiù sul muro, sulle bretelle, dappertutto attorno a me. Fa tutt’uno col caffè, son io che sono in essa.
Lungo la strada ce n’è per tutto e tutti, dio, ovviamente, borghesi, benpensanti, conformisti, la stupidità umana…

Alberto Giacometti: Studio per un ritratto di James Lord.

Inizia riportando anche la data, la prima è Lunedì, 29 gennaio 1932. Ma presto rimangono solo i giorni della settimana, a rimarcare l’inutilità del tutto, l’inconsistenza dell’esistere.
A un certo punto si legge, semplicemente:
Niente. Esistito.

L’inferno, sono gli altri.

Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,359 reviews11.8k followers
September 18, 2022

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.
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,086 reviews7,013 followers
January 18, 2022
[Edited 1/18/2022]

Two of the blurbs call this book Sartre’s “most enjoyable book” and “the best written and most interesting of Sartre’s novels.” Perhaps – I don’t know as the only other one I’ve read is No Exit, and so long ago I have no recollection of it. Wikipedia calls the novel one of the canonical works of existentialism. (I thought I had read others by Sartre but it turns out they were by Camus – I have a tendency to mix up those two guys. lol)

Nausea is structured as a diary. The main character and the writer of the diary is Antoine Roquentin, apparently an independently wealthy man who spends most of his day in the library researching and writing a biography of an 18th-century international political figure, a (fictional) man named Rollebon.

Other than incidental people like librarians and waiters, Antoine interacts only occasionally with two people: a man in the library we know only as “The Self-Taught Man” and a waitress that he regularly has sex with. We learn nothing about her but the Self-Taught Man is working his way methodically through the library alphabetically by author. Antoine also gives us snippets of café conversations he overhears.

The setting is the fictitious town of Bouville (Mudville) but according to Wiki it is Le Harve where Sartre was living when he wrote this book. The Self-Taught Man, enthusiastic about what he is learning, and the historical figure that Antoine is writing about, act as foils for his philosophical speculations.


At times our main character is uncertain why he is writing his book. “In truth, what am I looking for? I don’t know. For a long time, Rollebon, the man has interested me more than the book to be written. But now, the man…the man begins to bore me. It is the book which attracts me, I feel more and more the need to write – in the same proportions as I grow old, you might say.”

Antoine at times is overcome with… Despair? Depression? Anomie? Mental illness? Awareness of the absurdity of life? He calls these periods bouts of nausea, although he never has the physical symptoms of nausea.

It’s best to let the novel speak for itself:

“Everywhere, now, there are objects like this glass of beer on the table there. When I see it, I feel like saying: ‘Enough.’ … I have been avoiding looking at this glass of beer for half an hour…I am quietly slipping into the water’s depths toward fear.”

“I very much like to pick up chestnuts, old rags and especially papers….but [suddenly] I was unable. I straightened up, empty-handed. I am no longer free, I can no longer do what I will.”

“Objects should not touch because they are not alive. You use them, put them back in place, you live among them: they are useful, nothing more. But they touch me, it is unbearable. I am afraid of being in contact with them as though they were living beasts.”


[In a café]: “There are four or five of them [card players]. I don’t know, I haven’t the courage to look at them. I have a broken spring. I can move my eyes but not my head. The head is all pliable and elastic, as though it had been simply set on my neck; if I did turn it, it will fall off.”

“His blue shirt stands out joyfully against a chocolate-colored wall. That too brings on the Nausea. The Nausea is not inside me: I feel it out there in the wall, in the suspenders, everywhere around me. It makes itself one with the cafe, I am the one who is within it."

“ ‘I was just thinking,’ I tell him, laughing, ‘that here we sit, all of us, eating and drinking to preserve our precious existence and really there is nothing, nothing, absolutely no reason for existing.’ ”

[on trees]: “They did not want to exist, only they could not help themselves…Tired and old, they kept on existing, against the grain, simply because they were too weak to die, because death could only come to them from the outside….Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance.”

“These are secretaries, office workers, shopkeepers, people who listen to others in cafes: around forty they feel swollen, with an experience they can’t get rid of. Luckily, they’ve made children on whom they can pass it off. They would like to make us believe that their past is not lost, that their memories are condensed, gently transformed into wisdom. …when all is said and done, they have never understood anything at all.”

There is one other character who appears near the end of the novel. She is Anny, a former lover of Antoine’s, and he says he is still in love with her. She asks him to come to Paris, where she is passing through, to meet with her.

Antoine writes twice that he has not seen Anny for four years and twice that he has not seen her for six years. This makes us worry about the reliability of our narrator. We also remember that he is a name-dropper of places he has supposedly traveled. He never tells us why he was anywhere and they are always exotic places: Aden, Shanghai, Saigon, Benares – so we wonder.


The book has a slow start but it picks up and in the end it kept my attention all the way through.

Le Havre in the 1930’s from alamy.com
Modern Le Havre from us.france.fr
The author from alejandradeargos.com
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,933 reviews688 followers
March 20, 2023
Ogier P. ('the self-taught man') is the symbol of everything that has gone wrong with the socialization process. Nausea places us in a situation where we have to ask ourselves: is knowledge for the sake of knowledge a wise way to spend your life; or can you have knowledge of trivial facts (e.g. game shows) and know nothing about who you are - a life not examined because knowledge was more important.
Profile Image for فرشاد.
150 reviews300 followers
July 4, 2015
محشر بود. انگار داشتم زندگی خودم رو میخوندم. نوشته های کتاب رو سطر به سطر زندگی کردم. از همون شروع به خودم گفتم "عجب صحنه روشنی" "چقدر همه این نوشته ها زنده اس." بعضی از صفحه های کتاب اونقدر زیبا بود که برمیگشتم و دوباره و سه باره میخوندم. توی بیشتر صفحه های کتاب یه خلاء و یه پوچی خاص وجود داشت که روح من رو جذب می کرد. این کتاب دقیقا هیچ چیزی رو روایت نمیکنه بجز خود هیچ.. بجز پوچی.. به جای وجود.. شاید بشه گفت سلوک یک نویسنده در جهت معنا بخشیدن به زندگی.. خیلی عالی و بی نظیر بود. هرچند که به نظر من برای ارتباط برقرار کردن با این زیبایی باید یه شکل خاصی زندگی کرده باشی.. برای من اونقدر کتاب روشنی بود که انگار خودم همه سطر هاش رو نوشتم.. فکر می‌کنم اگه سارتر این کتاب رو نمی نوشت قطعا یروزی من انجامش میدادم. فوق العاده بود...
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,196 reviews9,482 followers
November 13, 2020
We were talking about novels that begin really badly then change gear and turn into great reads. One of my favorites from this year did just that - Old Goriot. This is another. After 100 pages I was thinking I’d had enough, and as usual I wrote a mean-minded parody.


Monday 29th January 1932. I’m feeling a bit funny.

Tuesday. You know, I’m a bit of a loner. I forgot how to open my mouth. Also, I’m writing this colossally dull history book. It’s just possible I am going doolally. I don’t like things and I have noticed things don’t like me. Yeah, things. Damn those things! What things? Oh you know, spoons, eyebrows, planets.

Wednesday. I noticed something horrible in the mirror. After an hour of staring I formed a theory that it was me. My eyes looked like baked beans and my mouth like a forgotten sock that gets left in the washing machine.

Thursday. I went to a café and I had a funny turn. I decided to write a book called Funny Turn.

Friday. I look out of my window and see two old women fighting in the street. They have knives and bicycle chains. They are in their seventies. If I opened the window a little further and leaned over some more I would topple into the street. Why not?

Sunday. Let’s not talk about Saturday.
Today I had an itch in my right ear and I didn’t scratch it for hours. I was so irritated.

Monday. I realised every single person makes me sick so I am going to change the title of my book to You All Make Me Sick.

But after page 100 Sartre suddenly found the real voice of this novel, and it was a revelation. Surprise! He can be brilliant. After all that uninteresting bellyaching I was not expecting a series of fulminations of such terminal loathing that Philip Roth, rantmeister nonpareil, could only goggle at in wonder.


And suddenly, all at once, the veil is torn away, I have understood, I have seen…

So this guy has a series of revelations all about the nature of reality and you guessed it, he doesn’t care much for what he now perceives to be the truth. Still he pities the sheeple who have not taken the red pill and still have mortgages and husbands and eyebrows.

They have dragged out their lives in stupor and somnolence, they have married in a hurry, out of impatience, and they have children at random. …Now and then, caught in a current, they have struggled without understanding what was happening to them. Everything that has happened around them has begun and ended out of their sight.

Once you have realised what existence is everything looks like caramel and/or melted cheese and you have a centipede instead of a tongue. Horror movie images flicker on and off through the rest of the book, parts of which seem like William Burroughs and even Hunter Thompson.

Things have broken free from their names. There they are, grotesque, stubborn, gigantic

But still he finds a very tiny bit of compassion for things and people -

They did not want to exist, only they could not help it; that was the point.


Antoine Roquentin, our depressed narrator, meets up with his former girlfriend Anny. He hasn’t seen her for four years. She says she needed him in her life. He says “Need me?... Well you’ve kept very quiet about it , I must say.” She says “Naturally I don’t need to see you, if that’s what you mean…You’re like that metre of platinum they keep somewhere in Paris. I don’t think anybody’s ever wanted to see it.”


Deadly dull for 15 pages then shockingly brilliant, then tiresome, then magical, of on off on offonoffon, like that. Also, zero plot, but you kind of guessed that anyway.

They call this a philosophical novel but that’s if you call a case history of a depressed guy thinking he’s seen the Ultimate Horror of the True Nature of Reality philosophy. If you do you might say the same thing about any album by Megadeth. I mean. It’s not remotely coherent. But it is visceral and jolting and if you don’t mind a large dose of tedium amidst Sartre’s red pill hell then welcome aboard.


this guy sitting in a cafe bitching about the other customers................................77%

this guy moaning about the history book he's writing...........................................12%

this guy having visions and insights about the horror, the horror........................19.7%

Pleasant memories of a happy childhood..................................................................0%

Exciting chase sequences..............................................0%

Paragraphs about squishy things and other stuff you don't want to see clearly.................................7.9%

3.5 stars.

Profile Image for Luís.
1,864 reviews523 followers
March 28, 2023
Sartrian novels are a bit out of fashion, but La Nausée remains one of the best stories of the twentieth century. He accompanied me at one time, and I never stopped seeing him. When you like Sartre's philosophy, it allows you to identify with a character who observes the world and is disgusted by it, so vain does it seem to him. He tries to make sense of his existence, to understand why he lives, but he comes to a sad and hopeless conclusion. It is not easy to read, it puts off and gives the blues, but it allows us to put words on the pain of living that we can sometimes feel. The important thing is to get out.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,385 reviews2,256 followers
February 23, 2017
Third time lucky...

I have always preferred the work of Albert Camus when it comes to the subject of 'existentialism'. It has taken me three attempts to read Nausea to finally appreciate. Whereas I just found Camus easier to digest immediately. This small novel is no doubt an important work and essential reading for philosophical purposes. I remember reading Camus's 'The Stranger and Sartre's Nausea back to back, similar in some ways, not in others, The Stranger lingered for weeks, Nausea drifted away.
But for whatever reason, this time around things just clicked. Maybe it helped reading 'The Age of Reason' to finally grasp him, the fact I am a fan of Simone de Beauvoir should mean looking at Sartre in a better light, after all he took her under his wing during her creative days at university. They enjoyed each others company, and this goes to show men and women can become great friends without becoming lovers.

Sartre, writer and philosophy professor has certainly embedded himself in literary history, and would say he could have been viewed as the French Kafka by virtue of his gift for expressing the horror of certain intellectual situations, if it weren’t that his ideas, unlike those of the author of “The Great Wall of China,” were not completely foreign to moral problems. Kafka always questioned the meaning of life. Sartre only questions the fact of existence, which is an order of reality much more immediate than the human and social elaborations of the life that is on this side of life.

“Nausea,” the journal of Antoine Roquentin, is the novel of absolute solitude, a solitude that made me feel uncomfortable. It is a question here of nothing but the spiritual results of solitude. They are analyzed with a rigor of thought and expression that will no doubt seem intolerable to most readers. Now I see the light, a philosophical novelist of the first order. Since Voltaire, we know that in France the philosophical novel has been a light genre, not far from the fable. Sartre’s literature bears no relation to this frivolous genre, but it gives a very good idea of what a literature associated to an existentialist philosophy might be. The law of the man who is rigorously alone is not the fear of nothingness, but the fear of existence. This discovery takes us far.

If his first novel was a work without a solution, by which I mean that it no more opens up any solutions for the universe than the principal works of Dostoevsky, it would perhaps be a singular success without a successor. But with its final pages “Nausea” is not a book without a solution. Jean-Paul Sartre who throughout the novel paints a portrait of a great bourgeois city of social caricature, and has gifts as a novelist that are too precise and too cruel not to result in great denunciations, not to completely open up into reality, a reality I would rather not see.

A seminal work that I will come to appreciate even more over the space of time.
Profile Image for Kiri.
24 reviews51 followers
March 19, 2012
Okay, wow. They should stock this thing in the bible section. Or the adult erotica section, because either way it gives you some pretty intense experiences.

In a nutshell: this book is kind of like an existentialist essay in the form of a diary. It's about this red-haired writer guy Antoine Roquentin, who's recently been overwhelmed with an intolerable awareness of his own existence. Like, super intolerable. Like, a soul-crushing, mind-blowing, nausea-inducing kind of intolerable. It's pretty awesome.

And the best thing - the best. thing. - was the accessibility of it all. Sartre, the fiend, satisfied me in ways that Dostoevsky and Camus never could. I mean, when has an existentialist exposition ever been made so readable? So ironic and captivating, so funny - there were times I actually laughed out loud. Moreover, Sartre gets me. I honestly cannot describe the feeling of holding a crummy paperback filled with words written over 50 years ago, and finding one of your own thoughts in amongst those of a fictional character. I guess it's what Christians must feel like when they read the bible. Or what middle-aged single women feel while reading a particularly steamy passage of Passion in the Prairie.

This is the kind of book you could read again and again, discovering some new detail every time, and getting something different out of it with every read. A new favourite!
December 11, 2017
“Some of these days
You’ll miss me honey”

«Η ναυτία» είναι η λογοτεχνική κατάληξη της θεωρίας του μοναχικού ανθρώπου που καταστρέφεται.
Μέσα στον τρόμο της μάταιης αναζήτησης νοήματος,απεικονίζονται με κάθε λεπτομέρεια μη βιώσιμοι ήρωες, τρομακτικοί, θλιβεροί,αφόρητοι.

Εκτός απο τη θλίψη της διάλυσης τους υπάρχει και η οδυνηρή συνειδητοποιημένη κατάσταση πως είναι κενές και ανεπαρκείς υποστάσεις. Υπάρξεις χωρίς παρελθόν, χωρίς μέλλον, μέσα σε ένα παρόν που το διαπερνά η μεταφυσική θλίψη της διάλυσης


Ο Αντουάν Ροκαντέν (συμβολικά κωμικό, σημαίνει ο γελοίος γέρος που παριστάνει τον νεαρό και έχει κάνει το δικό του γύρο του κόσμου)
είναι ο πρωταγωνιστής του βιβλίου.
Είναι ο «συλλογικός άνθρωπος» που απορροφάται συνεχώς και έντονα απο την παρατήρηση της δίκης του ύπαρξης.
Αναλογίζεται το γεγονός ότι υπάρχει, υπάρχει σαν μια συνείδηση που συνδέεται με το σώμα του οποίου το συλλογικό όνομα είναι Αντουάν Ροκαντέν.

Η αντίδραση για μια τέτοια συνειδητοποίηση θα μπορούσε να χαρακτηριστεί ως παντοδυναμία, ως θαύμα -της ανθρώπινης νόησης ή παρανόησης- μιας ανώτερης δύναμης.
Για τον Αντουάν όμως, η αντίδραση που προκύπτει είναι ο απόλυτος τρόμος. Τον διαπνέει εξ ολοκλήρου μια αντίληψη για την κενή, ριζωμένη ύπαρξη που οδηγεί σε ψυχοσωματικές αισθήσεις. Η κυριότερη αίσθηση ονομάζεται Ναυτία.

Για να αποφύγει τη ναυτία ο Αντουάν βυθίζεται στη μελέτη του παρελθόντος, ζει σε μια κωμόπολη της Γαλλίας και μελετά καθημερινά για να γράψει τη βιογραφία ενός πονηρού τυχοδιώκτη, του Μαρκήσιου ντε Ρολμπόν.

Η καθημερινότητα του εκφραζει ποικιλία ιδεών και νοημάτων.
Στον καθημερινό περίπατο της αστικής τάξης που προκαλεί ναυτία, μαθαίνουμε πως οι αστοί είναι καθάρματα και εξαπατημένες μα ισχυρές υπάρξεις.

Στην τοπική βιβλιοθήκη νιώθουμε την ουσία του αστικού ανθρωπισμού και της αισιοδοξίας. Σύμφωνα όμως με τον Αντουάν, δεν υπάρχει στην αναζήτηση της σημασίας της ζωής καμία θέση ανθρωπισμού ή ελπίδας.

Απο την πρώην αγαπημένη του έχουμε μια άλλη προοπτική για την ύπαρξη.
Σύμφωνα με την Άννυ τα παιδικά κατάλοιπα ριζώνουν για πάντα στη συνείδηση και η υπέρβαση της ύπαρξης μας είναι το μεγαλείο του θανάτου.
Ο θάνατος είναι μια «προνομιούχος κατάσταση» εξαιτίας της σημασίας που του αποδίδεται όχι μόνο στην πραγματικότητα αλλά και ως θέμα σε πολλά έργα τέχνης.

Γραμμένη σαν ένα είδος ημερολογίου «η Ναυτία» διαβάζεται ως μνημείο αφορισμών για την ύπαρξη και το αντίθετο της.
Ειρωνεία,μοναξιά, απόγνωση, θλίψη, σαρκασμός εμπεριέχονται ως βαθιά υποκειμενικές απόψεις.

«Η Ναυτία» θριαμβεύει στην πειστική εκφραστικότητα που προσδίδει ο Σαρτρ στον πρωταγωνιστή του βιβλίου.

Ο Αντουάν καταφέρνει να μεταφέρει με απόλυτα διαυγή γλώσσα τις ιδέες και τις σκέψεις που βρίσκονται πίσω απο τις απλές ερμηνείες, το πετυχαίνει τέλεια με τον αποκεφαλισμό της ύπαρξης του.

Είναι άκομψος και εσωστρεφής, κυκλοθυμικός και απαισιόδοξα διαλυμένος, όμως αναλύει εξαιρετικά τη φύση και χαρίζει απλόχερα διανοητική ενέργεια και βασανιστικούς τρόπους κατανόησης της εξομολόγησης του.

«Η Ναυτία» είναι το πρώτο έργο του Σαρτρ που διαβάζω και νομίζω πως θα είναι και το τελευταίο.

Ένιωσα τρομερή πίεση, θλίψη και απέραντη ψυχολογική πίεση σε βαθμό φθοράς. Μια θηλιά στο λαιμό που έσφιγγε σταδιακά μέχρι να γίνει αφόρητα πνιγηρή... και μία αίσθηση ναυτίας ...

Καλή ανάγνωση.
Πολλούς ασπασμούς.
Profile Image for Andie.
52 reviews
April 16, 2022
If you live in Florida, lets say Ft. Lauderdale, don't read this book... especially when you're trying to pay the bills by working in a call center and you're aweful at telemarketing and your roommate is weird and depressed and everyone around you is fake and plastic. That's my only warning. Otherwise, it's a great book.
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
May 21, 2019
Sartre is an author I don't like very much. He's also one of the few authors I almost always agree with, unfortunately. If that is not enough to cause some nausea, one can add a bit of existential anxiety and here we go: by hitting Sartre in the face with Camus' idea of the absurdity of life, I have confirmed Sartre's bleak outlook on humanity as well. If I had liked it, I would have solved the Catch 22 of life!

Sartre is hard to stomach because he doesn't add any decoration to the account of human misery. He just puts it out there.

Or wait - there is ornament.

In the form of black symbols on white paper, he serves treatment for the illness: to write is to exist!

So as a reader, I have no choice but to write a review, to prove my existence in time and space, or maybe in letters and ink? Code in cloud?

I read, therefore I am. It doesn't mean I have to like it in the sense of giving pleasure!
Profile Image for Lea.
118 reviews348 followers
December 3, 2017
"I was just thinking," I tell him, laughing, "that here we sit, all of us, eating and drinking to preserve our precious existence and really there is nothing, nothing, absolutely no reason for existing."

I smile at him. I would like this smile to reveal all that he is trying to hide from himself.

It’s really hard for me to rate this book, to write a review or even form an opinion. I kinda feel I’m not old, educated or wise enough to appreciate it fully, and this is one of those books I would be highly interested to re-read at the different time-periods in my life, to see the effect it has on me over time. Reading Nausea was a unique experience, and definitely, mind-blowing read that left me in awe. At times the Sartre’s writing reminded me of The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge and The Magic Mountain, and I was delighted to find out that Rilke's Notebooks of Malte, one of my favorite books, was one of the main influences for Nausea. Jean-Paul Sartre is painfully honest in character of Roquentin, a lost introverted man in his thirties, tormented by loneliness, anguish, doubt and above all, Nausea, the pain of existing. The book starts with notes in his diary, and in the first few words, we see that he is the real truth seeker, the kind that values truth more than conformity, the kind that would rather suffer and know the truth than live in a lie in the painless state of existing.

The best thing would be to write down events from day to day. Keep a diary to see clearly—let none of the nuances or small happenings escape even though they might seem to mean nothing. And above all, classify them. I must tell how I see this table, this street, the people, my packet of tobacco, since those are the things which have changed. I must determine the exact extent and nature of this change.

This is what I have to avoid, I must not put in strangeness where there is none. I think that is the big danger in keeping a diary: you exaggerate everything. You continually force the truth because you're always looking for something.

We soon learn about his loneliness, and he can’t really find meaning, identity in relation to other human beings, or in contributing to the society, things that regular human being finds shelter and comfort running from their own feelings of meaningless and the absurdity of life.

I live alone, entirely alone. I never speak to anyone, never; I receive nothing, I give nothing.

I was neither father nor grandfather, not even a husband. I did not have a vote, I hardly paid any taxes: I could not boast of being a taxpayer, an elector, nor even of having the humble right to honour which twenty years of obedience confers on an employee. My existence began to worry me seriously.

I don't want any communion of souls, I haven't fallen so low.

I particularly liked Sartre’s witty, honest and satirical comments on man-woman romantic relationships, and love and sexuality are underlying themes in the novel, buried under existentialism and absurdism. It can be the defense mechanism of intellectualization and rationalization of love, but I laughed out loud, as well in some other parts of the novel, in admiration that someone verbalized the part of the truth that we all subconsciously know, but refuse to talk or think about.

I don't listen to them any more: they annoy me. They're going to sleep together. They know it. Each one knows that the other knows it. But since they are young, chaste and decent, since each one wants to keep his self-respect and that of the other, since love is a great poetic thing which you must not frighten away, several times a week they go to dances and restaurants, offering the spectacle of their ritual, mechanical dances. . .

After all, you have to kill time. They are young and well built, they have enough to last them another thirty years. So they're in no hurry, they delay and they are not wrong. Once they have slept together they will have to find something else to veil the enormous absurdity of their existence. Still ... is it absolutely necessary to lie?

Odd feelings Roquentin experiences in the nauseated consciousness are nothing more than confrontation with bare existence and nothingness. He displays obvious cynical mockery and even disgust for himself and for the world, but in the same way, under the feeling of emptiness and deep philosophical debates he has with himself, there is profound interest and concern for the fate of the individual person and longing for meaning. His search for meaning is turned within himself, as he attempts to find meaning in his own inner life and experience. In the void of his inner experiences, he loses track of time, space and himself in the processes of derealization and depersonalization in archaic visions. But he learns that neither the experience of the outer world or contemplative deep inner life can’t give meaning to existence. He tries to give life meaning by writing a book, and reviving old passion with his longtime lover, but is faced with ultimate failure each time. Reconciliation is found in the acceptance of contingency and absurd, concepts in which he finally feels liberated but not fulfilled nor happy.

And without formulating anything clearly, I understood that I had found the key to Existence, the key to my Nauseas, to my own life. In fact, all that I could grasp beyond that returns to this fundamental absurdity. Absurdity: another word; I struggle against words; down there I touched the thing. But I wanted to fix the absolute character of this absurdity here. A movement, an event in the tiny coloured world of men is only relatively absurd: by relation to the accompanying circumstances.

The essential thing is contingency. I mean that one cannot define existence as necessity. To exist is simply to be there; those who exist let themselves be encountered, but you can never deduce anything from them. I believe there are people who have understood this. Only they tried to overcome this contingency by inventing a necessary, causal being. But no necessary being can explain existence: contingency is not a delusion, a probability which can be dissipated; it is the absolute, consequently, the perfect free gift.

I am free: there is absolutely no more reason for living, all the ones I have tried have given way and I can't imagine any more of them. I am alone in this white, garden-rimmed street. Alone and free. But this freedom is rather like death.

I am bored, that's all. From time to time I yawn so widely that tears roll down my cheek. It is a profound boredom, profound, the profound heart of existence, the very matter I am made of.

Expressed absolute boredom and emptiness, and will to sacrifice comfort for freedom reminded me of Madame Bovary, a character that I could heavily relate when I read that books years ago. I could definitely relate to Roquentin, and I think he is a level of epic character, like Dostoevsky characters, that live inside in each one of us. With Nausea, I had a liberating feeling when you read a book for the first time and see someone talk about the parts of you that you never shared with anyone because you thought no one would understand. Even thought Rouqentin had shattering feelings of loneliness in the chaos of existence, I think he made a lot of people like me feel less alone, and I applaud Sartre for that. The more I think about Nause the more I see what a masterpiece of literature it is. Hope to return to this book, and see years from now what are the parts that stuck with me the most, because I’m sure there will be many.
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,302 followers
April 18, 2023
Într-un roman modic (ca valoare), Jean-Paul Sartre a introdus o temă (scîrba de viață, dezgustul existențial) care a avut un ecou uriaș. Tema se regăsește la Ionesco (Însinguratul), Le Clézio (Procesul verbal), Houellebecq (Extinderea domeniului luptei). Rezultă paradoxul că importanța romanului lui Sartre a fost mai mare decît valoarea lui pur estetică.


În biblioteca publică din orașul Bouville, Antoine Roquentin (protagonistul romanului) întîlnește un personaj bizar: Autodidactul. Este un individ silitor și îndîrjit, un ghem de perseverență. Are un program vast: vrea să citească metodic absolut tot. Fără să sară nici un autor, nici o carte. Începe cu litera A și speră că, într-o bună zi, va ajunge la Z. Vrea, așadar, să acopere întreaga cunoaștere omenească. Exhaustiv. Fără rest...

„Dintr-o străfulgerare am înțeles metoda Autodidactului: se instruiește în ordine alfabetică. Îl contemplu cu un fel de admirație. Cîtă voință îi trebuie ca să realizeze încetul cu încetul, cu încăpățînare, un proiect atît de vast? Într-o zi, acum șapte ani (mi-a mărturisit că studiază de șapte ani), a intrat cu mare pompă în această sală. A parcurs cu privirea nenumăratele cărți care acoperă pereții și probabil a spus, asemenea lui Rastignac: 'Între noi doi acum, Cunoaștere omenească!' S-a dus apoi să ia prima carte din primul raft de la extrema dreaptă; a deschis-o la prima pagină cu un sentiment de respect și de teamă, unit cu o hotărîre de neclintit. Astăzi se află la L. K, după J. L, după K. A trecut deodată de la studiul coleopterelor la cel al teoriei cuantelor, de la o lucrare despre Tamerlan la un pamflet catolic împotriva darwinismului: nici o clipă n-a fost derutat. A citit tot. A înmagazinat în capul lui jumătate din ce se știe despre partenogeneză, jumătate din argumentele împotriva vivisecției. În urma lui, înaintea lui, e un univers. Și se apropie ziua cînd va spune, închizînd ultimul volum din ultimul raft de la extrema stîngă: 'Și acum?'...” (pp.42-43).

Romanul e prea arid și, la recitire, dezamăgește. Albert Camus avea dreptate: „Prea multă teorie strică!” Un exemplu: „Existenții pot fi întîlniți, dar nu pot fi deduși”.

P. S. În Ziarul de Iași, am publicat acum 15 ani o recenzie mai amănunțită: https://www.ziaruldeiasi.ro/opinii/a-...
Profile Image for Fernando.
680 reviews1,094 followers
January 31, 2023
"Entonces, me dio la Náusea: me dejé caer en el asiento. Ni siquiera sabía dónde estaba; veía girar lentamente los colores a mi alrededor; tenía ganas de vomitar. Y desde entonces la Náusea no me ha abandonado, me posee."

Escrita en 1946, "La náusea" es la primera novela del filósofo y escritor francés Jean-Paul Sartre y marca el inicio de ese movimiento tan peculiar de la literatura que se llamó "Existencialismo" y que en la literatura sería continuado y grabado a fuego por Albert Camus.
Durante toda la lectura de la novela, nos encontraremos con el relato en primera persona de Antoine Roquentin, un muchacho de unos treinta años que vive en la imaginaria ciudad de Bouville.
Ha estado en Indochina y desde hace un tiempo deambula por las calles de su pueblo, entre su casa y la biblioteca del lugar en la que escribe una biografía sobre un tal Marqués de Rollebon y eso es todo lo que sabemos de él.
Lo restante se traduce en una amplia serie de reflexiones y pensamientos que invaden y controlan su mente y no lo sueltan más. La "Náusea", como él decide denominarlos.
He podido encontrar ciertos puntos de contacto entre esta novela y otras que he leído. Aunque es una novela extremadamente peculiar uno siempre puede trazar puentes con otras historias.
"La náusea" me recuerda, por ejemplo a la segunda parte de las "Memorias del subsuelo" de Fiódor Dostoievski, llamada "A propósito de la nevasca", puntualmente por la relación del narrador con los otros dos personajes secundarios en esta novela: el "Autodidacto", un muchacho que trabaja en la biblioteca y Anny, una mujer con quien hace el amor ocasionalmente.
Por otro lado, los paseos del narrador me sugieren otras dos novelas de introspección y análisis: "Los laureles cortados" de Édouard Dujardin y de "El paseo" de Robert Walser.
Las similitudes del discurso, por momentos inexpugnable de Roquentin me recordaron a "El innombrable" de Samuel Beckett y ciertas frases de marcado absurdo me trajeron una fuerte reminiscencia al Franz Kafka más sórdido: "Estoy solo, pero camino como un ejército que irrumpiera en la ciudad."
Adentrado el libro, fluye el monólogo interior joyceano. Todo recurso literario es válido para Sartre y de este modo sustenta el discurso de Roquentin.
Como marco previamente, la economía de personajes queda reducida a Roquentin y ocasionalmente a sus relaciones (y desconexiones) con el Autodidacto y con Anny, pero nada más. El resto del texto que leemos, está dentro de su cabeza, transformándonos a nosotros los lectores en una especie de afortunados espectadores.
Cuando no está intentando desentrañar las profundidades de su mente, trabaja escribiendo la bibliografía de Rollebon. Para quién, no se sabe.
Sus reflexiones y pensamientos son definitivamente las de un observador. Un observador muy detallista. En sus paseos, Roquentin remarca constantemente lo absurdo que es estar vivo, sin ninguna dirección fija. Al menos, él cree que la vida es eso.
Son pensamientos apáticos, bucólicos, descorazonados: "Para mí no hay lunes ni domingos; hay días que se empujan en desorden, y de pronto, relámpagos como este."
Intentando descifrar el objetivo de su introspección, creo que en su caso no se trata de la existencia sino de la "existencialidad", si es que se puede utilizar esa palabra: "Todo lo que existe nace sin razón, se prolonga por debilidad y muere por casualidad... la existencia es un lleno que el hombre no puede abandonar."
Su constante visión negativa y pesimista lo ahoga: "Cuando uno vive, no sucede nada.". Este tipo de frases justifican su apatía.
Su propia existencia teñida de interrogantes kafkianos lo asalta por detrás y declara "Nada. He existido."
Su concepción es directamente opuesta al principio cartesiano: "Soy, existo, pienso, luego soy; soy porque pienso, ¿por qué pienso? No quiero pensar más, soy porque pienso que no quiero ser, pienso que...porque..."
En su interacción con los demás personajes, de algún modo cree poder hacer extensivo su estado de ánimo a ellos: "No es simpatía lo que hay entre nosotros; somos parecidos, eso es todo. Está solo como yo, pero más hundido en la soledad ha de esperar su Náusea o algo por el estilo. Entonces, ahora hay gente que me reconoce y piensa: "Este es de los nuestros".
Cerca del fin, Roquentin dice: "Desearía tanto abandonarme, olvidarme, dormir. Pero no puedo, me sofoco: la existencia me penetra por todas partes, por los ojos, por la nariz, por la boca... Y de golpe, de un solo golpe el velo se desgarra, he comprendido, he visto."
Se nota claramente el agotamiento mental; una especie de oscuro laberinto que lo posesiona, y lo absorbe, y los interrogantes que surgen al principio de la novela, ya no lo soltarán ni a él ni a el lector en el final.
Roquentin cree haber encontrado la explicación y el significado para él y para nosotros sobre lo que genera en él la Náusea.
Pero... ¿es realmente eso la Náusea?
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,024 reviews4,074 followers
Shelved as 'dropped'
December 9, 2011
An insufferable philosophical classic, penned in nauseating and styleless first person prose. Roquentin is an arrogant buffoon whose existential woes are trivial, arch and pathetic. No attempt to create a novel has been made, apart from using that most lazy of constructs, the diary, opening the whole work out to a meandering thought-stream of excruciating random dullness. It isn’t accessible to confused students, unless those students happen to be aesthetes on private incomes writing dull historical theses, who like lifeless tracts of flat and horrible prose and can tolerate being bashed over the head with dated postwar ideas. I think that was Sartre’s intention, anyway, I might be wrong. But I get it. Yes. OK. Thanks. Life is horrible, etc, free will is illusory, etc etc. Got it. I read up to p50. That’ll do. The novel was never a useful medium for complex philosophical ideas, except perhaps Camus’s The Stranger, but that was under one hundred pages, and so tolerable. Absolute tish-pock.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
519 reviews416 followers
February 26, 2023
Nausea brings to us a man's struggle to come to terms with his own existence. Antoine Roquentin is disgusted with his everyday existence. Being without family, friends, or a vocation, his solitary existence gives him plenty of time to reflect on the meaning of his existence. What he finds in answer to his search is only nothingness. He ponders on the actions of humans, including himself, who are ignorant of this real nature of the world, and finds these actions absurd. This absurdity that surrounds him, almost drowning him, makes him nauseous.

The plotless story is rather a study of Antoine's thoughts and conducts as he struggles to make a meaningful existence. He finds his whole life in utter disarray. "For me, there is neither Monday nor Sunday: there are days which pass in disorder, and then, sudden lightning like this one". The "sudden lightning" is the moment of happiness when he feels one with nature, but he cannot help falling into despair again when he deals with the world around him. He doesn't understand why he is here, for what purpose. "I hadn't the right to exist. I had appeared by chance, I existed like a stone, a plant, or a microbe. My life put out feelers towards small pleasures in every direction".

In his search to find the true meaning of existence, he first discovers that most of the existences are relative. That is to say, most of the existences are formed in relation to some other person, object, concept, or the past. "I was neither father nor grandfather, not even a husband. I did not have a vote, I hardly paid any taxes: I could not boast of being a taxpayer, an elector, nor even of having the humble right to honour which twenty years of obedience confers on an employee. My existence began to worry me seriously." This worry intensifies, Antoine's nausea. He realizes that the task he has set for himself - to write a book on the history of the Marquis de Rollobon - is his way of desperately anchoring his existence to something, even if it's a dead person from the past. Disgusted, he abandons this task and tries another avenue to which he could anchor his existence. He meets his former girlfriend, Anny, and seeks through her to steady his sinking ship. But this effort too is frustrated, and he finds himself drifting further and further into turbulent waters. Antoine feels completely lost. Then, all of a sudden, he is enlightened. "The true nature of the present revealed itself: it was what exists, and all that was not present did not exist. Not in things, not even in my thoughts." Antoine finds that the true existence is what exists at present, at this present moment, divorced from the past. And he also realizes that "things are divorced from their names" and that all these things are only "strange images" that "represented a multitude of things". They are "not real things", but "things which looked like them. Wooden objects which looked like chairs, shoes, other objects which looked like plants." Sartre believed that "existence preceded essence" and that the "essence" or rather the "characteristics" of objects are just "facades" to hide the unexplainable nature of existence. So, things are only objects, and they exist without us giving them any "characteristic". And finally, he understands, what he is. "And just what is Antoine Roquentin? An abstraction. A pale reflection of myself wavers in my consciousness. Antoine Roquentin...and suddenly the "I" pales, pales, and fades out".

With this realization comes the understanding that each of us is responsible for creating a purpose or meaning for ourselves. And for Antoine, there is only one solution to save himself and cure him of his nausea. That is to create an artistic product, not of the past as he tried to do with Marquis de Rollobon, but of the present, and to pour his whole self into it and solidify his existence through it. Existentialists believed that artistic creation is an important aspect of existence. So we can understand why Sartre presented the simple solution of artistic creation as the way of understanding oneself thus curing Antoine Roquentin's nausea.

Nausea is a classic existentialist novel. It expounds on the vital aspects of existentialism and paints a good portrait of Sartre's beliefs on existence. It is an important philosophical work and probably one of the best works that explain existentialism. But reading it is quite another matter. It needs a hundred percent of concentration and a good percentage of brainpower to understand what Sartre was driving at. It is not easy to fish out the essentials from the multitude of ideas that Sartre presents in this work. It is a profound work, and I by no means claim to have understood it all. Yet, though it was quite a difficult experience, I'm glad to have read what is considered the fictional masterpiece of Sartre. " I stand by one thing, which is Nausea. . . . It’s the best of what I’ve done" This is how Sartre felt of his Nausea. And who are we to contradict the author?
Profile Image for Tosh.
Author 13 books626 followers
March 3, 2008
Jean-Paul Sartre's version of "Rebel Without a Cause" and like James Dean, Sartre himself became an icon. Written in the late 30's, Sartre's study of a man who analyze his feelings, bearings on a world that makes him sick. This book has so much identity to it, that it is almost a brand name for 'youth.' There is nothing better then to be caught reading this novel by a pretty girl in a coffee house. Unless it's Starbucks, and then it is just... pointless.
451 reviews2,968 followers
March 21, 2012

عندما كتب ساتر روايته الاولى التي اشتهرت تحت عنوان «الغثيان»، وكان قد اسماها في البداية «تأملات في الصدفة»، عرضها على رفيقة حياته سيمون دوبوفوار، التي وجدتها مملة ولا تتضمن عنصر التشويق، أعاد سارتر صياغتها قبل ارسالها الى الناشر
الفرنسي «غاليمار»، لكن لجنة القراءة رفضتها واعتبرتها غير ذات شأن.
مما أصابه بالإحباط الشديد والاكتئاب
الا أنه قرر التصرف بشكل عملي هذه المرة ملتمسا من صديقه، شارل دولان، التوسط لدى الناشر، غاستون غاليمار. واقترح الناشر تعديلات وتغييرا للعنوان إلى «الغثيان».
وهكذا ظهرت للوجود الرواية المؤسسة لشهرة جان بول سارتر، فحصدت النجاح الجماهيري المنقطع النظير !

الغثيان ليس بالكتاب السهل القراءة لأنه يحوي فلسفة سارتر الوجودية وجاء ذلك متمثلا في شخصية بطل الرواية السيد أنطوان , تبدو الكتابة في المئة الأولى مملة وعبثية وحديث نفس لا رابط بين فقرة وأخرى , تضج بالتأمل في التفاصيل الصغيرة , التفكير الذي لا يتوقف عقل يكاد أن ينفجر , تشغله الأيادي , الحجارة المقذوفة في بركة ماء صورا في السقف , دوائر صلبان ,,الرؤى لا تتوقف ,يدخل مكتبة يتأمل في اللوحات يكتب تفاصيل الوجوه يحدثها هذا التأمل الذي شغل بطل الرواية أوصله لمرحلة من الغثيان ,الغثيان نتج عن الملل من عبثية الوجود الإنساني يتوقع أنطوان أن حل مشكلته لربما يكمن في الإلتقاء بصديقته آني لكن حين يجدها لا يجدها!
فحالها لم يكن يختلف عنه كثيرا ,,
يقول سارتر في رائعته الغثيان
ما أشد ما أحسني بعيدا عنهم , من على هذه الرابية يخيّل إليّ أنني أنتمي إلى جنس آخر
إنهم يخرجون من المكاتب بعد يوم عملهم , ينظرون إلى البيوت والحدائق نظرة راضية
ويفكرون بأنها مدينتهم , مدينة برجوازية جميلة , إنهم غير خائفين , وهم يحسون بأنهم
في بيوتهم !
إنهم لم يروا قط إلا الماء المستأنس الذي يسيل من الصنابير ,
وإلا النور الذي ينبع من المصابيح حين يضغطون على المفتاح ,
وإلا الأشجار الهجينة التي تُسند بالمناشير ,
إنهم يرون الدليل مئة مرة كل يوم , على أنّ كل شيء يتم بصورة آلية ,
وأنّ العالم يطيع قوانين ثابتة لا تتغير ,
إن الأجسام المتروكة في الفراغ تسقط جميعا بالسرعة نفسها ,
والحديقة العامة تغلق كل يوم في الساعة الرابعة !
وأن الرصاص يذوب عند الدرجة 335
و أن آخر ترام يغادر أوتيل دوفيل في الساعة الثالثة والعشرين وخمس د !
إنهم مطمئنون , كئيبون
يفكرون في الغد أي ببساطة في يوم جديد
إن المدن لاتنعم إلا بنهار واحد يعود متشابها كل صباح
ولا يفعلون إلا أن يقرعوا له الأجراس أيام الأحد , الحمقى !
إنهم يثيرون إشمئزازي !

أظن أن هذه الفقرة التي كتبها سارتر على لسان أنطوان تلخص ما أراد سارتر أن يقوله في الغثيان ,
ولا أظن أن كل من يقرأ غثيان سارتر سيتصالح معه !
إنها قراءة في فلسفة الوجود وهشاشة الإنسان بعين سارتر
وليست رواية تبحث فيها عن أحداث
Profile Image for Alex.
1,418 reviews4,383 followers
January 23, 2018
The thing with existentialism is that once you admit there's no meaning, you have to admit that there's no meaning, and people get freaked out about it. I don't know why. I was raised atheist and I've never thought there was any meaning and it seems okay to me; maybe it's only scary if you used to think there was a meaning and suddenly you find out there isn't one. Listen, I'll tell you the meaning of life.

1) Be nice
2) have fun

That's it.

Neither of those things occur to Antoine Roquentin in this book, so instead he spends 100% of his time freaking right the fuck out. (Sartre felt that we have to create our own meaning, which both is and isn't what I've done here, and his protagonist doesn't get around to it.) The Nausea is what he gets when he thinks about how nothing means anything, which happens often. There are no rules, he thinks. There is no organization. "Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance," he says and by the way here's a super fun game for you single people: pick a quote from this book for your next Bumble date and see if you can say it and still get laid. Here are some more for you.

- "I marvel at these young people: drinking their coffee, they tell clear, plausible stories."
- "Things are bad! Things are very bad: I have it, the filth, the Nausea."
- "'If you look at yourself too long in the mirror, you'll see a monkey.' I must have looked at myself even longer than that; what I see is well below the monkey, on the fringe of the vegetable world, at the level of jellyfish."
- "For a moment I wondered if I were not going to love humanity. But, after all, it was their Sunday, not mine."
- "We were a heap of living creatures, irritated, embarrassed at ourselves, we hadn't the slightest reason to be there, none of us, each one, confused, vaguely alarmed, felt in the way in relation to the others."
- "What if something were to happen? What if something suddenly started throbbing?"

That last one might work.

Here's another thing Roquentin says: "I suppose it is out of laziness that the world is the same day after day. Today it seemed to want to change. And then, anything, anything could happen." But the thing with this book is that anything doesn't happen, and while I understand that it's sortof the point that nothing happens, that doesn't change the fact that nothing fucking happens, and we have a word for that: the word is boring.

I mean - if this is your first existential freakout, you might get more out of it. I feel like maybe this should be read during college, when people get pretty fired up for existential freakouts. If you're already a grown-up, it's frankly too late for this kind of malarkey. Listen: life is meaningless. You don't need to be here. It's fine. Be nice. Have fun.
Profile Image for Sarah.
185 reviews398 followers
June 29, 2017
Fear, anxiety, suffering, freedom, and self-deception― that's the human condition right there for you folks.

Nothing matters.

Life is meaningless. Life is pointless. Life is empty.

I'm going to have to reread this again to fully wrap my head around it.
Profile Image for Franco  Santos.
484 reviews1,343 followers
December 21, 2016
Análisis breve y probablemente inexacto de Antoine Roquentin

Antoine Roquentin, hombre de 30 años, soltero, francés, vive en Bouville, historiador aficionado y adicto al trabajo. Sartre centró en aquel personaje, en apariencia trivial y sin mucho atractivo, el hastío, el absurdo que ilustra su filosofía existencialista. Roquentin se siente consternado por el conocimiento de su futilidad, una bolsa de huesos sin finalidad. Le repugna su existencia, la rechaza, y le repele el conocimiento de su miseria e insignificancia, le causa lo que él llama la Náusea y se cierra a sí mismo en una coraza carente de significado y destino.

"Es que pienso que estamos todos aquí, comiendo y bebiendo para conservar nuestra preciosa existencia, y no hay nada, nada, ninguna razón para existir".

Roquentin se ve disgustado por la imperturbable falta de vida de los objetos y de las mismas personas. No cree en nada, solo en lo que ve y lo que no ve no vale la pena ser estudiado. A través de sus ojos no somos más que apéndices del mundo sin ninguna función requerida para el curso natural del tiempo, y su incapacidad de encontrar significado conforma en sí mismo un calvario aparte en su sufrimiento.

Pero este sentimiento de, quizá, redundancia, se agrava al caer en la cuenta de que su autoaborrecimiento no hace más que avivar la llama de su existencia. Él existe por el odio a su existencia. Roquentin comienza asimismo a odiar sus pensamientos, sus sentimientos y su consciencia y a la vez eso alienta lo que detesta. Una paradoja existencial que lo condena a la locura. Un bucle de odio que propulsa su condición de existencia, y eso lo llena de una esencia que vigoriza la Náusea, la sensación de ir en contra del Cero.

"Existo porque pienso... y no puedo dejar de pensar. En este mismo momento —es atroz— si existo es porque me horroriza existir".

Roquentin vio en el marqués de Rollebon un sustituto a su existencia. Una persona muerta, que ya no existe físicamente, para declamar su papel. Esto quizá sea un cambio de papeles. Roquentin le da la materia física, su cuerpo vacío, a Rollebon, y Rollebon se encarga de rellenarlo de sentido. Cuando Roquentin se harta de Rollebon, su vida se torna ya completamente absurda y agobiante:

"M. de Rollebon era mi socio: él me necesitaba para ser, y yo lo necesitaba para no sentir mi ser".

Roquentin ve a la existencia como una envoltura repulsiva que carece de razón por dentro. Su superficialidad lo condena a encontrar algo por lo que vivir. Bajo el paisaje de charcos podridos, bigotes llenos de migas de pan, dientes amarillos y zapatos desgastados, no halla nada por lo que valga la pena continuar respirando. Sin embargo, eso sucede por su renuencia a buscarle una noción mayor, oculta. Y aquí a mi parecer reside el deber del humanista, del llamado Autodidacta, específicamente en el almuerzo que mantuvieron juntos en uno de los restaurantes. El humanista ve a los hombre separados en sus partes y ama en cada uno determinadas partes de su conjunto. Le encuentra un sentido para amar —y por lo tanto vivir— a cada individuo. Roquentin, en su defensa, proclama que dicho sistema de búsqueda de un significado mayor ciega al observador de, precisamente, ese significado mayor:

"—Es como ese señor que está detrás de usted, bebiendo agua de Vichy. Supongo que usted ama en él al Hombre Maduro, al Hombre Maduro que se encamina con valor hacia su declinación y que cuida su apariencia porque no quiere abandonarse.
—Exactamente —me dice, desafiándome.
—¿Y no ve que es un cochino?".

Asimismo Roquentin parece autoproclamarse dueño de la absoluta verdad. No solo se siente vacío y dentro de un pozo negro, sino que cree que ese pozo negro es solo ocupado por él. Para él, las personas en los restaurantes que frecuentaba ignoran el absurdo de la existencia, son solo peones de la Nada que ríen por su desconocimiento. Esto lo pone a Roquentin en un lugar no solo de hastío sino de soberbia, e incluso no solo de soberbia, sino también de soledad e incomprensión, y eso, lejos de abrumarlo, le hace carcajear. Roquentin es un hombre que se regocija en su conocimiento, y se burla de quienes no lo comparten, más precisamente de quienes ignoran la aberración del hecho de existir. Esto se ve, por citar un ejemplo, cuando Roquentin está observando en el restaurante Camille a un hombre de aspecto cadavérico:

"El doctor quisiera creerlo, quisiera enmascarar la insostenible realidad; que está solo, sin conocimientos, sin pasado, con una inteligencia que se embota y un cuerpo en descomposición. Por eso ha construido, ha arreglado, ha acolchado bien su pequeño delirio de compensación: se dice que progresa. Y para poder soportar su vista en los espejos, ese horrible rostro de cadáver trata de creer que en él se han grabado las lecciones de la experiencia".

Roquentin se burla de la ilusión del hombre, da por sabido que esa persona no es consciente de su condición, sin saberlo realmente. Roquentin se aparta a sí mismo del consuelo de ser entendido, simplemente para mantener una distancia de superioridad y, tal vez, de seguridad. Y para él todos los actos humanos son distracciones de la fragilidad inherente a vivir.

Pero Roquentin no se aparta del todo. Todavía necesita pertenecer, estar, como un voyeur, un observador del delirio. Roquentin no renuncia a estar entre la gente, no se disocia enteramente, sino que hasta las busca. No por nada Roquentin frecuenta restaurantes y museos de arte y la biblioteca en donde siempre lo espera el Autodidacta. Roquentin necesita sentir que su existencia es valorada por otros, y a través de la valoración de otros él puede construir su propia valoración. No obstante a veces sus sentimientos lo traicionan, determinados hechos lo hacer asomar su cabeza de su coraza sin significado y lo ponen en evidencia ante la vulnerabilidad humana. Su preocupación por el señor Fasquelle desmonta el estoicismo y su indiferencia camusiana. ¿O acaso solo quería subir la escalera hasta el supuesto cadáver del señor Fasquelle por puro morbo...?

Otro ejemplo que lo deja en evidencia es su conflictiva relación con Anny (una vez que dejó su trabajo como historiador, que le permitía adueñarse de identidades ajenas). Él mismo reconoce que esta puede ser la única razón de su existencia, pero no solo se queda en ese reconocimiento, sino que además demuestra caer en la ilusión humana de la que tanto se burlaba en otros, siendo simultáneamente consciente de ella:

"¿Por qué estoy aquí? ¿Y por qué no habría de estar? (...) Dentro de cuatro días veré a Anny; esta es, por el momento, la única razón de mi vida. ¿Y después, cuando me haya dejado? Bien sé lo que espero, solapadamente: espero que no me deje nunca más. Sin embargo debería saber que Anny jamás aceptará envejecer en mi presencia".

Y aquí caemos en la relación humano-objeto. El objeto es, existe, cuando se lo contempla y se lo considera. Cuando Roquentin contempla un objeto, este adquiere una significación humana, mayor a su significado meramente físico, y esto lo abruma. Roquentin es un hombre vacío, un muerto que respira, y cuando un objeto inanimado adquiere un significado mayor al de su naturaleza inicial debido a un agente externo (como puede ser su consideración), se ve superado por esa nueva realidad, que sobrepasa sus limitaciones existenciales, puesto que su ser no posee la esencia y sustancia necesaria para hacerle frente a su construcción personal sobre aquel objeto. Dicho de otra manera, el objeto acrecienta su condición de rebeldía, su absurdismo.

"Los objetos no deberían tocar, puesto que no viven. Uno los usa, los pone en su sitio, vive entre ellos; son útiles, nada más. Y a mí me tocan; es insoportable. Tengo miedo de entrar en contacto con ellos como si fueran animales vivos".

La consciencia es en donde radica la sustancia de existir. Proclamamos en el lenguaje la existencia de variados objetos sin ser conscientes de ellos, pero una vez que nos detenemos a pensar en nuestras palabras, todo a nuestro alrededor adquiere un carácter insoportable. Nosotros le damos consciencia a los objetos, y ellos nos devuelven nuestro reflejo. Roquentin los busca para sentirse en la palma de su mano, su existencia, hasta que la sustancia del objeto en cuestión supera la suya propia. Y aun peor, cuando a un objeto se le concede aquella "consciencia", su absurdo se vuelve más intenso, y la Náusea retorna.

"Tampoco es bueno mirar demasiado a los objetos. Los miro para saber qué son y tengo que apartar rápidamente los ojos".

Una vez que Roquentin se despoja de todo, o mejor dicho, pierde todo, él se considera finalmente libre. Pero no es una libertad de no yacer en una celda sucia de una cárcel remota esperando un juicio del que es imposible salir como inocente, sino es una libertad casi pesimista, deprimente y desesperanzadora. Una libertad como sinónimo de vacío, absurdo y suicidio:

"Soy libre, no me queda ninguna razón para vivir, todas las que probé aflojaron y ya no puedo imaginar otras".

Aquí le pongo un freno a lo dicho sobre Roquentin. Roquentin detesta su existencia desde la primera página de su diario, pero su modo de buscar estar rodeado de gente (restaurantes, sexo vacuo, su relación con el Autodidacta, hasta su rol como historiador) ¿no es una manera de reafirmar su existencia? No tiene el carácter reclusivo que uno esperaría de una persona hastiada. Roquentin persigue la consideración hacia él de otras personas, a fin de que esas mismas consideraciones revitalicen su condición de persona, aun así si esa revitalización acrecienta su sensación de estar de más, de anormalidad. En resumen, Roquentin es un hipócrita: aborrece su existencia pero busca permanecer ligado a ella; y no solo eso, sino que tiene como objetivo su reanimación. Le espanta mientras no quiere perderla.

"Antoine Roquentin no existe para nadie. ¿Qué es eso: Antoine Roquentin? Es algo abstracto. Un pálido y pequeño recuerdo de mí vacila en mi conciencia. Antoine Roquentin... Y de improviso el Yo palidece, palidece, y ya está, se extingue".

Llegamos al principio. Su diario, sus memorias. Su rol de historiador le permitía conferir vida a personas muertas. Las resucitaba en páginas y se sentía en compañía (falsa, por supuesto, otra ilusión). Pero, y ahora que no tiene a nadie, ¿qué pasaría si se autodocumentase? Roquentin llegó a la última y mayor de las ilusiones, y a la más desesperada manera de seguir siendo una persona que vale en una humanidad en la que en realidad nada tiene valor intrínseco y nada debería ser como es. Roquentin se vuelve, si es que tiene sentido utilizar esta palabra, autoconsciente. Se vivifica a sí mismo a partir de su miseria, a través de su escritura. Se exterioriza, busca transmitirse a sí mismo de una sustancia que no tiene. Se viste y rellena con el contenido que sale de su mismo existir, aunque sepa que eso está cerca de la violación de lo natural, la inexistencia.

"La verdad es que no puedo soltar la pluma; creo que voy a tener la Náusea y mi impresión es que la retardo escribiendo. Entonces escribo lo que me pasa por la cabeza".

Y acá surge el problema. ¿Cómo puede autorevitalizarse si está casi vacío, si carece de suficiente sustancia propia? Escribir un libro de ficción, para él, podría ser un modo de vivir en otros a través de su escritura. Un refugio y quizá una fuente de vida que se dota a sí mismo a partir de personas inexistentes. Esta ironía, o podría decirse este elegante y discreto humor, forma parte de la esperanza que tanto rechazaba Roquentin al principio de su diario, y que no hizo más que llevarlo a la reafirmación de su absurdo. La creación como escape, como una ¿contra? de la falta de sentido. Cuando Roquentin crea, esas creaciones gozan de un sentido.

"... una historia que no pueda suceder, una aventura. Tendría que ser bella y dura como el acero, y que avergonzara a la gente de su existencia".

Quizá Roquentin haya logrado llegar al sentido de su pequeño papel en la historia y el tiempo, quizá no deba buscar más y haya encontrado la fórmula de la eterna juventud. Mientras tanto, esto nos deja, a nosotros, sus lectores del mundo real, en una habitación fría y vacía, en medio de paredes húmedas y telarañas rotas, sentados adelante de un escritorio con un único papel sucio sobre él, e iluminado por una vieja lámpara titilante se puede leer, si nos acercamos lo suficiente, en tinta negra y seca:
"¿Por qué elegimos vivir?"
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,294 reviews21.7k followers
February 7, 2017
I can’t really tell you why I picked this up now – I just decided I needed to read some fiction. Perhaps I also thought I should ease my way gently back into fiction with something written by a philosopher. The more I think about it, the more this book seems like an awfully strange one to pick – but I seemed quite determined at the time to start reading it. It would be nice to then be able to say – and this was just the book I needed to read right now, this was just the thing - as if there were some guiding principle to the universe directing our hands and demanding we read things in their proper order, at their proper time. But I can't say that.

The characters in this book that are the most interesting (and I’m going to use the word ‘character’ very loosely here) aren’t necessarily the ones you might think they are going to be when you start. I mean, obviously enough the narrator has to be important here – we are in his head so everything we see is filtered through that. But I came away thinking that the Self-Taugh Man is probably the most important character other than the narrator.

The character you might think ought to be more important than anyone here would be Anny – but although there are lots of lovely passages about her, I didn’t find them coming together as nearly as interesting as I had hoped they might. The hand holding in the cinema, an hour before his train leaves at one point, was really a delight to read, but the conversation in Paris I found harder to really believe.

The other really interesting characters aren’t really characters at all – they are the nausea and existence. For Sartre our being proceeds our essence. That is, you don’t really have an eternal essence, as such, despite our brains perhaps being composed to imagine we do – but rather we are what we become - so we don't 'remain' but rather change and this is what is fundamentally true about us. Quite a few times we hear that characters are relied upon to remain the same - but this is never to be trusted, I think. This idea of us becoming and changing presents us with lots of paradoxes and none of these are necessarily all that easy to explain.

A lot of this is about the main character, Roquentin, seeking to understand his own essence, I think. He is writing a history, but isn’t entirely sure why he is. And he is worried – not least because he is starting to think of himself that he is a bit more flighty than he would like to consider himself to be. Also, and I think this is very important, he basically thinks of himself as a vegetable – yeah, I know, you weren’t expecting that, were you?

The introduction to this book makes a lot of his interaction with a chestnut tree at one point during the novel – but I think this is mostly interesting because of his identification with vegetation that occurs throughout the book. The idea of him vegetating (I’ve no idea if that works in French, by the way, but it echoed throughout the book for me anyway) kept recurring. And when he is with the chestnut tree he basically isn’t with the tree at all, but rather he says he is the chestnut tree. Well, except he identifies more with the roots of the tree than with the tree itself – stuck in the ground, hard and black. That sense of dark and of being trapped and of vegetating – it could easily be badly overdone (over-written), but it didn’t feel overdone here at all. I thought it was quite clever, to be honest. And then, after he leaves the chestnut tree and after he has fully identified with it, that is when (surprise, surprise) he decides to leave Bouville and go to Paris - to change his life and therefore to be someone else. Here the psychology is particularly interesting – that he was trapped and vegetating until he identified with something rooted to the ground and it was only then that he could see a way out, a way to move.

The nausea is interesting too – this really is a character in the book in so many ways. A recurring illness that we can never tell is physical, but one that seems to be a force that makes him move, that occurs when his life is set to change.

I liked this book much more than I thought I was going to. Again, if I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it, why the hell did I read it? But it was interesting in so many ways. The story of the Self-Taught Man is the most interesting piece here – and much more interesting today, I suspect, than when it was written. We have become obsessed with paedophilia – it is our new blasphemy. Part of the reason I avoid films is because I'm sick to death of characters (often priests) who have a horrible secret... So, the idea that Roquentin stands up for the Self-Taught Man – especially after despising him for being a humanist – is really interesting. The other people are presented, and as they are, as simply bullies.

Look, the idea of someone sexually assaulting children is repulsive in the extreme, I get it – but self-righteousness and violent attacks on people who are essentially defenceless are two things I find at least equally repulsive. I would like to think I would have done much as what Roquentin did here in the library, but I worry I may not have ever had the courage.

Like I said, this proved to be a much more interesting book than I thought it was going to be – you know, given the title - not quite 'vomit' but close enough. I’ve read some of Sartre’s short stories before and thought they were a bit daft, to be honest – too keen to make a philosophical point and so, better to have been written as philosophy than as fiction – but I thought this was clever and understated and a good read generally.
Profile Image for clem.
520 reviews373 followers
May 22, 2019
⭐️ small dick energy star


As a French person, when foreigners learn that I 'majored' in Philosophy in HS, the first name that burst out of their mouth is, you guessed it, Jean-Paul Sartre. And just to give you a quick personal history, since the dawn of time, JPS been butt of our jokes.

Synopsis: Nausea follows the strongest small-dick energy character in the world as he struggles to write his own book and is submerged by a feeling of self-doubt and eventually, existentialism. Since he feels emasculated, he also feels the need to share his sexual adventures even if it doesn't bring anything to the story.

I thought Nausea might change my opinion on this dude, it really didn't. He's still as snobbish, naggy and unconvincing as I remember, if not more. This is, I believe, my fourth JPS without counting the numerous plays I've seen, and it's probably his most outrageous work.


What astounds me is that Nausea is one of his most read book abroad, for some reason. I need help to understand why. It's really not good.

The character is another reflection of Sartre, it seems that he can't help but write books about himself... Sartre really had an ego problem that is definitely blatant in this excuse of a book. He likes to hear himself talk even if there's nothing bright about what he's saying = O.G small dick energy.


The plot, was there even one? I wouldn't know, I haven't found it and I'm really not Nancy Drew so I'm gonna bother. This book is a succession of emptiness and unsubstantial dialogues after another.


Sartre's writing is unfocused and drafty, unable to reach the so-called paradigm of intellect he represents. He's walking in a circle, unable to form coherent thoughts and come to an intellectual conclusion. This book could have easily been 5 pages long essay instead of a 25O pages long babble of nothing. We have pages and pages of dialogues between two people sitting in a café our MC doesn't even know. It makes me wonder if he was paid by the page...


It pains me to know that this is what France is known for when we have much more talented and intelligent thinkers. Nausea is a snob, boring and unintelligent 'book' I don't recommend to anyone.

On a more personal note; I want to thank my mom for making fun of me for reading JPS again. Bullying apparently runs in the family and so does JPS post-traumatic- hatred syndrome.

Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
861 reviews2,190 followers
October 5, 2016
A Novel of Ideas?

Much criticism of "Nausea" describes it as a novel of ideas, as if this is necessarily a pejorative term.

To me, the term (as used in this negative context) implies that the characters are a mere mouthpiece for ideas or ideologies, and that they simply argue with each other until a resolution is reached (or not).

I question whether this characterisation applies to "Nausea", and would like to make a case for an alternative perspective on the novel in this review.

Ironically, to argue my case, I have to delve into the metaphysical concerns of the novel.

I'll concentrate on Sartre's text and keep my comments to a minimum, so that you can get an impression of the tone of the novel. It was a lot more amusing than I had expected.

Adventures in Front of a Metaphysical Green Screen

The novel (started in 1930, published in 1938) needs to be interpreted in the context of:

* the philosophy of Husserl (as evaluated by Emmanuel Levinas and read by Sartre between 1930 and 1936),

* Heidegger's "Being and Time" (published in 1928 and read by Sartre from 1940 to 1941),

* Heidegger's "An Introduction to Metaphysics" (published in 1935 in the same issue of a journal as an essay of Sartre's), and

* the development of Sartre's own philosophy in a number of books up to and including "Being and Nothingness" (published in 1943).

It's been suggested that the novel reflects the intuitive investigation of various ideas that Sartre would later document more analytically in "Being and Nothingness". Iris Murdoch called it "the instructive overture to Sartre's work." If this is correct, then it means that he continued to dwell on these ideas for at least five years before publishing the book that still best defines his existentialist philosophy.

While reading the novel, I wondered whether it explored concepts defined by Heidegger in "Being and Time". However, it's known that Sartre hadn't read "Being and Time" by the time he finished "Nausea". It's more likely that the ultimate source of some of these ideas was Husserl, rather than Heidegger.

It's still possible that Sartre was familiar with Heidegger because he might have read secondary materials or encountered other people's responses to its initial publication. (Late in the novel, Sartre alludes to the question asked in the first paragraph of Heidegger's "The Fundamental Question of Metaphysics": "Why is there something rather than nothing?")

The Idea (AKA the Thing)

I mention Heidegger and Husserl, because the novel purports to be about "the Idea" (singular) rather than being a novel of ideas (plural).

If I've understood it correctly, the Idea is akin to Heidegger's concepts of Being, Dasein and Existence, precursors of which can be found in Husserl.

For the protagonist, Antoine Roquentin, the Idea is like a Thing or, more philosophically, it's like "Thingness" or "Thinginess". This Thing almost takes on a character of its own and, in doing so, takes on the character of Roquentin in an adversary sense (or so he thinks).

Roquentin describes it in terms of an illness or a virus (hence his nauseous response, what he calls his "sweet disgust"):

"Something has happened to me: I can't doubt that any more. It came as an illness does, not like an ordinary certainty, not like anything obvious. It installed itself cunningly, little by little; I felt a little strange, a little awkward, and that was all...and now it has started blossoming."

Up to this point, he has been reasonably self-confident, if not particularly gregarious. Like Sartre himself, he was a man alone. He sets out to understand the Thing, as well as himself in contrast to it:

"I should like to understand myself properly before it is too late."

Journal of Existence

Roquentin records his self-analysis in a journal that takes the shape of an intellectual autobiography. This allows Sartre to read Roquentin's mind. Apart from some dynamic set pieces, in which Roquentin reacts to other people and the environment, the novel focuses on Roquentin's internal struggle. It is particularly impressive, if you have a metaphysical bent and are prepared to suspend disbelief.

There's a frequent playful or comic undertone to the journal. At times, it reminded me of a 1950's B-movie ("The Thing from Another World"), in which the Thing was the alien, the enemy, the bad guy. The Thing seems to embody all that threatens Roquentin philosophically or existentially:

"Things are bad! Things are very bad: I've got it, that filthy thing, the Nausea. And this time it's new: it caught me in a cafe...then the Nausea seized me, I dropped on to the bench, I no longer even knew where I was; I saw the colours slowly spinning around me, I wanted to vomit. And there it is: since then, the Nausea hasn't left me, it holds me in its grip."

Later, he describes the Thing as a "big white mass":

"And the IDEA is there, that big white mass which so disgusted me then."

"Now I am alone. Not quite alone. There is still that idea, waiting in front of me. It has rolled itself into a ball, it remains there like a big cat; it explains nothing, it doesn't move, it simply says no. No, I haven't had any adventures."

A Mere Figment of the Imagination

The Thing seems to threaten Roquentin's sense of himself:

"My existence was beginning to cause me serious concern. Was I a mere figment of the imagination?"

Not only was the existence of his self under threat, but so was his past, his memories:

"The true nature of the present revealed itself: it was that which exists, and all that was not present did not exist. The past did not exist. Not at all."

Still, paradoxically, the self owes its own existence to and forms part of the Thing:

"The thing which was waiting has sounded the alarm, it has pounced upon me, it is slipping into me, I am full of it. - It's nothing: I am the Thing. Existence, liberated, released, surges over me. I exist."

Roquentin is part of Heidegger's Dasein. Yet, he clings to his sense of self or separate identity. He's not ready to abandon Descartes' subject or cogito, even if he has come to hate mankind and the rest of the world:

"My thought is me: that is why I can't stop. I exist by what I think...and I can't prevent myself from thinking. At this very moment - this is terrible - if I exist, it is because I hate existing. It is I, it is I who pull myself from the nothingness to which I aspire: hatred and disgust for existence are just so many ways of making me exist, of thrusting me into existence. Thoughts are born behind me with a feeling of giddiness, I can feel them being born behind my head...If I give way, they'll come here in front, between my eyes - and I go on giving way, the thought grows and grows and here it is, huge, filling me completely and renewing my existence."

Roquentin remains indebted to Descartes, while trying to embrace aspects of Heidegger's philosophy:

"I am, I exist, I think therefore I am; I am because I think that I don't want to be...I exist because that is my right. I have the right to exist, therefore I have the right not to think..."

...therefore, I have the right not to exist...

“The Thing, C’est Moi”

Roquentin's consciousness has stumbled into some form of nihilism or absurdity, while trying to reconcile with the Thing and Nausea.

"I was just thinking that here we are, all of us, eating and drinking to preserve our precious existence, and that there's nothing, nothing, absolutely no reason for existing."

"Objects are not made to be touched. It is much better to slip between them, avoiding them as much as possible. Sometimes you take one of them in your hand and you are obliged to drop it as quickly as possible...so this is Nausea...Now I know: I exist - the world exists - and I know that the world exists. That's all. But I don't care. It's strange that I should care so little about everything: it frightens me. It's since that day when I wanted to play ducks and drakes. I was going to throw that pebble, I looked at it and that was when it all began: I felt that it existed."

"I am in the midst of Things, which cannot be given names. Alone, wordless, defenceless, they surround me, under me, behind me, above me. They demand nothing, they don't impose themselves, they are there...I push open a gate, I go through, airy existences leap about and perch on the treetops...I should so like to let myself go, to forget, to sleep. But I can't, I'm suffocating: existence is penetrating me all over, through the eyes, through the nose, through the mouth...And suddenly, all at once, the veil is torn away, I have understood, I have seen."

"The Nausea hasn't left me and I don't believe it will leave me for quite a while; but I am no longer putting up with it, it is no longer an illness or a passing fit: it is me."

The Thing has won, it has conquered Roquentin, as it has all other existents. Dare I say, it becomes him.

The Very Stuff of Things

Roquentin has realised that the Thing is actually something, rather than nothing (even if he doesn't know why):

"If anybody had asked me what existence was, I should have replied in good faith that it was nothing, just an empty form which added itself to external things, without changing anything in their nature. And then, all of a sudden, there it was, as clear as day: existence had suddenly unveiled itself. It had lost its harmless appearance as an abstract category: it was the very stuff of things, that root was steeped in existence. Or rather the root, the park gates, the bench, the sparse grass on the lawn, all that had vanished; the diversity of things, their individuality, was only an appearance, a veneer. This veneer had melted, leaving soft, monstrous masses, in disorder - naked, with a frightening, obscene nakedness."

A Heap of Existents

The epigraph to the novel is a quote from Celine:

"He is a fellow without any collective significance, barely an individual."

This might well describe the nihilist Roquentin. He was neither complete as an individual, nor did he form part of his community.

So Roquentin investigates the social and political relationship between individuals, only to find that, knowingly or not, all people are affected by the existence of the Thing:

"We were a heap of existents inconvenienced, embarrassed by ourselves, we hadn't the slightest reason for being there, any of us, each existent, embarrassed, vaguely ill at ease, felt superfluous in relation to the others. Superfluous: was that the only connexion I could establish between those trees, those gates, those pebbles?...Each of them escaped from the relationship in which I tried to enclose it, isolated itself, overflowed. I was aware of the arbitrary nature of these relationships, which I insisted on maintaining in order to delay the collapse of the human world of measures, of quantities, of bearings; they no longer had any grip on things. Superfluous...And I - weak, languid, obscene, digesting, tossing about dismal thoughts - I too was superfluous...I was superfluous for all time...The word Absurdity is now born beneath my pen; a little while ago, in the park, I didn't find it, but then I wasn't looking for it either, I didn't need it; I was thinking without words, about things, with things...Without formulating anything clearly, I understood that I had found the key to Existence, the key to my Nausea, to my own life. In fact, all that I was able to grasp afterwards comes down to this fundamental absurdity...But I should like to establish the absolute character of this absurdity...I, a little while ago, experienced the absolute: the absolute or the absurd."

What differs between people is the level of recognition of the absurd.

The Contingency of Existence

Nausea is the recognition that humanity, the world and life are merely contingent, that they are superfluous, that they are not meant to exist, that there is no reason for them to exist.

"The essential thing is contingency. I mean that, by definition, existence is not necessity. To exist is simply to be there; what exists appears, lets itself be encountered, but you can never deduce it...contingency is not an illusion, an appearance which can be dissipated; it is absolute, and consequently perfect gratuitousness. Everything is gratuitous, that park, this town, and myself. When you realise that, it turns your stomach over and everything starts floating about...; that is the Nausea."

"I was all consciousness of its existence. Still detached from it - since I was conscious of it - and yet lost in it, nothing but it...Existence is not something which allows itself to be thought of from a distance; it has to invade you suddenly, pounce upon you, weigh heavily on your heart like a huge motionless animal - or else there is nothing left at all."

"Existence everywhere, to infinity, superfluous, always and everywhere; existence - which is never limited by anything but existence...existence is a repletion which man can never abandon."

"I was not surprised, I knew perfectly well that it was the World, the World in all its nakedness which was suddenly revealing itself, and I choked with fury at that huge absurd being. You couldn't even wonder where it all came from, or how it was that a world should exist rather than nothing. It didn't make sense, the world was present everywhere, in front, behind. There had been nothing before it. Nothing. There had been no moment at which it might not have existed. It was that which irritated me; naturally there was no reason for it to exist...But it was not possible for it not to exist. That was unthinkable: in order to imagine nothingness, you had to be there already, right in the world, with your eyes wide open and alive; nothingness was just an idea in my head, an existing idea floating in that immensity; this nothingness hadn't come before existence, it was an existence like any other and one which had appeared after a great many others."

The Pale Consciousness

It's interesting to think of Sartre's fictionalisation of Roquentin's internal life as if he is actually no more than a creature of fiction. This passage is even more pregnant with meaning, when you imagine or recognise its metafictional connotations:

"Antoine Roquentin exists for Nobody. That amuses me. And exactly what is Antoine Roquentin? An abstraction. A pale little memory of myself wavers in my consciousness. Antoine Roquentin...And suddenly the I pales, pales and finally goes out...Lucid, motionless, empty, the consciousness is situated between the walls; it perpetuates itself. Nobody inhabits it any more. A little while ago somebody still said me, said my consciousness. Who?...The consciousness exists like a tree, like a blade of grass. It dozes, it feels bored. Little ephemeral existences populate it like birds in branches. Populate it and disappear. Forgotten consciousness, forsaken between these walls, under the grey sky... And this is the meaning of its existence: it is that it is a consciousness of being superfluous. It dilutes itself, it scatters itself, it tries to lose itself on the brown wall, up the lamp-post, or over there in the evening mist. But it never forgets itself; it is a consciousness of being a consciousness which forgets itself. That is its lot."

Perhaps a character in a novel exists only temporarily and contingently in the mind of a reader. We readers mess with the minds of literary characters. We are the characters' Thing.

If you want to read the definitive novel about the Thing, make sure it's this one! It's a comic stripped bare by existentialists. Marvel-lous!


Albrecht Dürer - Melencolia I (Sartre originally named this novel "Melancholia" after this engraving)

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