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The Age of Reason (Penguin Modern Classics)

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In part, this seems to be due to the fact she can’t ever match his intellect (but is self-aware enough to realise this), whereas Mathieu is somehow clinging to his fading youth with Ivich and getting some subconscious, macho kick out of being with a pretty girl.

Boris stopped laughing, eyed him, muttered something, then subsided and stood quiet, his mouth agape, and still with a stupid air. Iron in the Soul concluded the trilogy in 1949, with Sartre abandoning the fourth novel the Last Chance for a variety of reasons (in part due to becoming bored with the limitations of novel writing—he’d made his point and moved on to new projects).Even if he let himself be carried off, in helplessness and despair, even if he let himself be carried off like an old sack of coal, he would have chosen his own damnation: he was free, free in every way, free to behave like a fool or a machine, free to accept, free to refuse, free to equivocate: to marry, to give up the game, to drag this dead weight around with him for years to come. As she’s Boris’ sister, at some point she’s been introduced to Mathieu who seems to fall for her due to her looks and youth, with the two sharing an odd relationship based on the professor teaching Ivich about high culture. Individual tragedies and happiness are etched against the Paris summer of 1938, with its nightclubs, galleries, students, and cafe society. At 34, he’s anti-bourgeoisie, but this personal leaning receives a major blow at the start of the book. There are far too many memorable moments that leave an indelible mark along with the questions and reflections to ponder a long time after the last page is turned over.

This does have a potential to backfire though because the idea of defining oneself can apply only to that which can be perceived, and there are times when we try to create a perception that does not work.Whilst being naturally intelligent, he lacks Delarue’s education and, also, appears to be somewhat annoyed he can’t match his friend’s (although they’re more like acquaintances) outright smarts. I didn't read this as an exemplification of Sartre's philosophy, but rather as a study of the philosophy of the characters in the story. As always, my reviews comprise about 5,000 words and merely scratch at the surface of a full-scale novel like the Age of Reason. He liked to show her fine pictures, fine films, and fine things generally, because he was himself so unattractive; it was a form of self-excuse. He would have indeed liked to go to the Harcourt with Sereno: he was an odd fellow, he was extremely good-looking, and it was amusing to talk to him because of the need to be constantly on guard: the persistent sense of danger.

When he does nothing of the sort but instead proudly brandishes the money for the abortion, Marcelle’s face falls, she is ashen, she says, ‘So that’s what you think of me’. As a somber background to Mathieu's private dilemma, Sartre presents a picture of the war in Spain and of the eve of the war in Europe.

This constant battle between how things are and how we want them to be causes us to lead a life of limbo, always in between things but never picking a side, until we find ourselves at the “age of reason” – that pivotal moment where making a radical decision could alter our lives forever. I read this book on a lovely sunny day and couldn’t help thinking that all the characters in it needed to get out more, to get a hobby, get some exercise, and generally get a life.

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