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The Age of Reason (Penguin Modern Classics)

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It was not only to defy Ivich that he had stuck the knife into his hand, it was as a challenge to Jacques, and Brunet, and Daniel, and to his whole life.

If the book does not rise to the stature of a great, or even a very good, novel, it at least does not try to show a great panorama of society, and fail. She’s an extremely pretty young lady, but one plagued with all manner of strange anxieties and psychological issues. Next morning Mathieu meets Ivich at the Dome cafe and they start drinking to get rid of their hangovers, when Boris appears completely dazed.Delarue clearly has a thing for her, but is caught between being the intellectual elder statesman and the lust-driven buffoon. Existentialists may deny that such scenes are introduced for sensationalism's sake, but they have not explained why it is necessary to expound their doctrine solely from a worm's eye view of life. Behind him, Boris and Ivich would soon be whispering together, reconstituting their unbreathable and precious world. In the philosophy class there had been a good deal of lively interest in Communism, and Mathieu had evaded the issue by explaining what freedom was. The Age of Reason is concerned with Sartre's conception of freedom as the ultimate aim of human existence.

Boris like all the other characters doesn’t appear to have a job and is oppressed by his own ‘freedom’ – which some among us might relabel his lack of a job, a career or any responsibilities. Fat unhappy Marcelle – trapped by illness in her pink bedroom, stifled by the mother she shares her apartment with – is the central symbol of the squalid reality of the physical body, of nausea at its revolting fecundity, a claustrophobic image of unhappiness.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. A child: another consciousness, a little centre-point of light that would flutter round and round, dashing against the walls, and never be able to escape.

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