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Reading and Be-ing: Finding Meaning in Jean-Paul Sartre's La Nausée

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Abstract:

This study of Sartre's first novel seeks to move beyond the metaphysical constraints that are implicit when specifically focusing on either the work's literary or philosophical qualities, instead approaching the text as metafiction. Through an understanding of the novel's self-referentiality, its awareness of its accordance to narrative technique or reliance on existential verbatim, one gains an understanding of Sartre's fascination with the dialogue that exists between literature and philosophy. The examination of La Nausée and its Anglo-American criticism leads to a re-evaluation of the role of bad faith, in which character, author and, particularly, reader, are implicit. For reading is, like Roquentin's concluding understanding of existence, a balancing-act between the in-itself and the for-itself; an interaction with bad faith in which it is the individual/the reader that is responsible for attributing meaning to experience/La Nausée.

Keywords: BAD FAITH; BE-ING; EVENT/ADVENTURE; EXISTENTIALISM; NARRATIVE; PESSIMISM; PROJECT

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/ssi.2011.170104

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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