I have been reading this book, nausea, for quite a long time. No matter how short this book is, don’t fall for the less number of pages, it is a lot of content that exhausts an average mind. When I began this book, I read 85 pages in a single go. But then, I didn’t dare touch it for two months. It is not that I didn’t want to open the book; there was never a moment that I didn’t think about it.
Everything I look reminds of “nausea”. The way Jean-Paul Satre wrote the book, he takes time to explain everything around the character. The character hits an existential crisis and begins to observe everything around him keenly. He begins to explain everything to us in a detailed manner. We are reading his journal, the pages left from his diary. His name is Antoine Roquentin, and his dairy explains all his thoughts and feelings about everything.
There is a page where Antoine explains how he felt anxious when he thought about his existence. He keeps reminding himself that he exists. And he keeps repeating “I think therefore I exist” in his mind numerous times and at the end, says, “I think therefore I am moustache” and loses it! He begins to question everything since he picks up a rock to skip it in a river; begins to question the essence of stone, and since then, he asks the nature of everything.
He begins to contemplate people, their actions, lifestyles; doesn’t see meaning in doing whatever it is. And he questions everything in a rather radical manner by drowning in absurd imaginations. Jean-Paul Sartre has carefully written the thoughts of Antoin in a way that while reading the pages that consist of anxious thoughts, we feel nervous too. I found myself observing everything in a more detailed manner and started describing things around me after reading 85 pages in a single go. I’m like Antoin too, and this book acted like the rock for him in his story.
Ever since I have read those pages, I became sensitive to smell. I began keen on observing the smells of everything. I even had a vomiting sensation, literal Nausea after sniffing certain smells. All the world is smells, visuals, audio, touch and taste. And there is nothing more to it; I feared reading this book any more. I needed time to continue reading this gem. And I have overloaded myself with it. After this overdose, something continued its journey with me—the meaning of this particular book.
Even though I have more 80 pages to read, I somehow knew where he was leading with the rest of the book. The effect that the 85 pages have done to my mind, I had the thoughts of Antoin for next 80 pages. I understood Antoin, and I suffered from similar views. I knew where Jean-Paul would lead me next. And I had existential crisis myself at the age of 19, and it was four years ago on 21st September that I first this ‘nausea’ that Sartre calls.
This Nausea bothered me, and I had cried multiple nights because I didn’t know anything anymore. Everything seemed false because nothing had any meaning. I don’t know if this is how it feels for everyone, but the way Sartre had written it down, I could relate to it. I resumed reading the remaining pages to see if I was right and yes, I was. And I predicted right, and it went over like I thought it would. But it was more beautiful than the first half of the book. He did not just raise multiple existential questions; he tried to resolve it.
Even though the resolution is not correctly baked, even Sartre knows that. He didn’t claim to have answers for the problems. Instead, he ended with a note of temporary patches that Antoin would do to avoid Nausea. It is a significant literary work as its style is new, post-modern and unique. Not only for its academic brilliance, but it is also philosophically sound. Unlike other books which claim to be resolutions of your life and offer fake solutions through influence, Nausea is pretty much straight forward and asks you questions. It is up to you to resolve those questions, or you can choose to embrace them.