The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1964.  His citation reads that the award was "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".

Sartre has a rather intimidating reputation but I found The Age of Reason easy reading. Translated by Eric Sutton and with a helpful introduction by David Caute, this ‘Popular Penguin’ edition seems at one level to be like many another novel. It’s a chronological narrative with fairly orderly narrators giving the point-of-view of the main characters, and the plot is easy to follow.

It’s the story of Mathieu Delarue, a philosophy teacher, and his not-very-energetic efforts to find 4000 francs for his girlfriend Marcelle’s abortion. It’s quite interesting: Will he get the money? Who among his friends will he ask for it? What’s his relationship with those he asks? Do they refuse, and why? What then? Will she do something about it? Or does she really want to keep the baby? You could read this book at that level alone and enjoy it because it’s an engaging issue and the novel is well-written and constructed and the translation is good. Paris between the wars is its usual fascinating self, and the characterisation is fun: all sorts of odd-bods for Sartre to manipulate into interesting conversations.
There is more to it than that, of course.  To read the rest of my review, please visit but beware, there are spoilers.

I read and blogged my review of this book on February 25, 2011.

1 comment

Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers said...

For some reason I can't work out, this review (which seems to be the only one on Sartre) isn't showing up in the list of Nobel Laureates by year of award.

© Read the NobelsMaira Gall