HunkleCP English 217 November 2017Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre178 pagesSection 1Page Range: 1 – 40Dates read: 12 Sept 2017 – 28 Oct 2017In the introductory entry in his diary, Antoine Roquentin laments that something has changed in the way he feels and sees objects and people, and he says that he intends to use his diary to help him better understand the shift in his feelings. Antoine recalls picking up a stone off the street and feeling strange and disgusted towards it, but he wasn’t able to tell if the feeling came from the stone or himself. The next day, he writes about his short journey to Vietnam and his return to France, frightened at the idea that his decision to return led to his current state of mind. Antoine visits a lover of his, a waitress at a local café, but says that he only visits her to purge himself of his feelings of nostalgia. Later, he writes about the Marquis de Rollebon, an 18th century French noble who he is writing a biography on, but notes on how he is beginning to lose interest in both the Marquis and his own writing. He worries that now he’s writing based solely on conjectures and guesses, and finds later in the day that when he looks in the mirror, he doesn’t recognize himself. In a statement that summarizes Antoine’s feelings throughout the novel, he says, “Nothing happens while you live. The scenery changes, people come in and go out, that’s all.
There are no beginnings. Days are tacked on to days without rhyme or reason, an interminable, monotonous addition” (Sartre 39). Antoine’s existentialist crisis blocks him from meaningfully experiencing his daily occurrences as the weeks go by. He does genuinely long for a meaningful existence, but his disgust for his existence and his distaste for society only grows as the story progresses. In his diary, he begins to painstakingly jot down every detail in every object that he sees, from the blotted ink on a wet piece of newspaper in the gutter to the patchiness of a passerby’s skin and face. Antoine, through his diary, tries to document events as they happen throughout his days, hoping to recapture the feelings that are so hard for him to experience now.
Section 2Page Range: 40 – 81Dates read: 28 Oct 2017 – 9 Nov 2017 While trying to avoid his overwhelming feeling of nausea, Antoine goes to the Bouville library to distract himself with a book and his research on Rollebon. He sits next to a man reading from a large pile of books, and deduces from the authors’ names that the man is reading every book in the library in alphabetical order. The Self Taught Man considers himself a genius for his idea and says that it’s his ultimate goal for living, while Antoine listens on indifferently. A few days later, he recieves a letter from his old lover Anny saying that they should meet while she’s in Paris. After giving it thought, he agrees to meet her in one week. Another quote that holds a broader meaning than just the context it’s given in is “I don’t know how she manages to fill up her envelopes: there’s never anything inside” (Sartre 60).
Sartre uses this quote to convey Antoine’s feeling that people aren’t really living. Antoine describes his current state of being aware of the reality of life, and how dismal and horrendous it is. He doesn’t think that anyone else really understands the bleakness of life like he does, and thinks of himself as above all the “phonies” he sees.Section 3Page Range: 81 – 100Dates read: 9 Nov 2017 – 25 Nov 2017 Antoine’s disillusionment with the noble Marquis de Rollebon, who he’s been writing a biography on, has been growing throughout the book. Finally, Antoine succumbs to the nausea and stops writing his book. He often thinks of Anny and his adventures and travels, but he can’t genuinely remember the past with any warmth or acceptance, because he sees the past as meaningless and that people hang onto the past too much. This is shown in broader detail when Antoine visits a museum, and looks at all of the statues and paintings, reminding himself of how living to be remembered is pointless if you can die whenever.
“The true nature of the present revealed itself: it was what exists, and all that was not present did not exist… Now I knew: things are entirely what they appear to be – and behind them, nothing” (Sartre 95, 96). Antoine deals with the past largely in this section. He frequently tries to think back to his travels with Anny, his old yearn for adventure, and his desire to write about Rollebon. But now, “M.
de Rollebon had just died for the second time” (Sartre 96), and Antoine feels no attachment to anything, and no true reason for existing.