Today has been a strategy day at work (that involves talking about the future with lots of alcohol being consumed) so reading, even seeing straight, was not that easy today. So forgive the relatively limited number of pages that were got through today in Jean-Paul Satre’s first novel and oft quoted masterpiece.
Bullet points from pages 1 – 60
* The story starts with a page explaining who the main character is, Antoine Roquentin a well traveled man who has now based himself in a town to write the history of marquis de Rollebon, who has papers about him in the town
* the book is written as a diary and you are introduced to the idea that a lonely historian is starting to have episodes that are starting to convince him he might be going insane
* the word nausea is first introduced as a feeling that comes from other objects – a pebble or a scrap of paper – but one night he goes to a cafe and feels nauseous for a great deal longer and only snaps out of it when his favourite tune is played
* this is an uncomfortable book with passages about him studying his face, noticing the smallest details about other people’s faces and mannerisms and because of his inability to cover up his feelings of revulsion are disinterest by pretending for the sake of the social situation
* he has been in the town researching and writing his book for a couple of years and is at the point where he hates the marquis de Rollebon but still likes the concept of the book
It is very much a book about a man and his mind and for that reason it reminds you instantly of the outsider by Camus and also because of its existentialism. Quite where the character of Antoine can go is hard to guess – maybe completely into a spiral of introverted despair? Let’s read on and see tomorrow…