The Age of Reason (Penguin Modern Classics)

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The Age of Reason (Penguin Modern Classics)

The Age of Reason (Penguin Modern Classics)

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Sartre mistakes movement -- Mathieu is almost constantly on the go -- for real action, and there's just not enough depth to his characters, in the way they are presented. Most people prefer to sip their Sartre-lite via his half dozen plays (including Huis Close with its famous line ‘Hell is other people’), his début novel Nausea, or the Roads To Freedom trilogy, three novels about France just before World War Two – The Age of Reason, The Reprieve, and Iron In The Soul. Peeved, Ivich’s strange mind kicks into action—she begins hacking and slashing at her left hand, spilling blood onto their table. Despite going to great lengths to achieve this, noting many French women’s startled reactions as they see his handsome mug home into view, he eventually backs out of the idea. It's one of the most effective passages I know on the subject of why it generally isn't a good idea to want to kill yourself.

Subsequent novels in the Road to Freedom have little to do with this theme, but what Sartre did is lay bare the concerns of his central characters whilst World War II loomed casually on the horizon. Last year he had been quite unperturbed, he had never thought about that sort of thing: and now—it was rather ominous that he should so constantly feel that his youth was slipping between his fingers. Mathieu does so partly to impress Ivich and when he is there, in the darkness of the death room, comes across the bundles of thousands of Francs which Lola has been saving for years. I agree, we have incorporated ideas of individual freedom into our general beliefs about individual identities and now see this as less of a burden. She sometimes had the feeling that her life had come to a stop one day at noon, and she herself was an embodied, eternal noontide brooding upon her little world, a dank and rainy world, without hope or purpose….

He likes the way her face and body are wrinkled, he likes her ‘experience’, whereas she rather more straightforwardly likes having a young lover – it makes her feel young; she tells Mathieu that Boris is her ‘last chance’. The Age of Reason is set in 1938 and tells of Mathieu, a French professor of philosophy who is obsessed with the idea of freedom. But the feeling didn’t last: ‘Not for a moment,’ he said to himself, ‘did Mathieu cease to be balanced, composed, and in perfect accord with himself.

There, he reveals Marcelle and he have been engaging in a long-term friendship – Daniel even shows him a letter she had written him, surprising Mathieu with the lively prose and use of “archangel”. That ghastly self-contempt, that utterly weak, futile, weak, moribund self-contempt, which seemed at every moment on the point of self-annihilation, but always survived.Regretting her scream, and feeling somewhat world-weary, the duo part ways as Ivich continues to wallow in depression about her impending exam results. Condition: This book is in good condition for its age other than some minor signs of wear and tanned pages, some of the pages were miss-cut when published so are sticking out the side slightly. The sense of general foreboding in the tale suggests he’s likely to fail in some way—or he has to accept he’s a member of the bourgeoisie and his life has been a lie. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole.

With alcohol in his system, Delarue begins to opine over the nature of Ivich, remarking: “I love that girl for her purity. Such impending disaster makes many innocuous day-to-day endeavours trivial, of course, but at this stage his creations are busying themselves worrying about ageing, money, and relationships. When Lola and Borins come back from their argumentative dance it is to find Ivich and Mathieu bleeding badly and linked by a new complicity. Meanwhile, in another strand of the plot, it turns out that the sleek homosexual Daniel has been visiting Mathieu’s mistress, Marcelle, for some time, unbeknown to Mathieu. Ivich was not precisely a flirt, but from time to time she assumed an affectionate air for the pleasure of sensing the heavy, fruit-like sleekness of her face.With her youth and good looks, she permeates much of the novel with a sense of loss—the ageing characters accept their 20s are gone, with the result being they seem to view Ivich as fragile and precious due to her youthful vulnerability. He is forlorn because he is devoid of God and thus only himself responsible for his actions (as well as inactions, inaction also being an action). A policeman accuses the drunk of begging, but Delarue defends him based on the lie they were having a proper conversation. It’s essentially his epiphany—the realisation he’s getting older and needs to move on with his life.

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