Study Guide

Nausea Chapter 1

By Jean-Paul Sartre

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Chapter 1

Editors' Note and Undated Pages

  • In order to make his fictional diary sound real, Sartre goes so far as to create some fictional editors to tell us that we're about to read the diary of a man named Antoine Roquentin.
  • We also learn that the first thing we're going to read is a sheet that hasn't been dated, but which seems to have been written a few weeks before the rest of the diary.
  • Just to fill out our background info, the editors tell us that Antoine spent a long time travelling around the world to places like North Africa, the Far East, and Central Europe before he settled in a French town named Bouville for three years.
  • It seems that while he was there, he was trying to write a history of some 18th-century political guy named the Marquis de Rollebon. And during that same time, he decided to start writing a diary.
  • So here we go, snooping in some dude's diary like a mom who's worried her teenage son is shoplifting.
  • Antoine Roquentin has decided that he wants to keep a diary so that he'll be able to remember what he's thinking and feeling as each day slips past him.
  • He is especially concerned with how specific objects (like his ink well), look one way to him one minute and a different way the next.
  • He starts to wonder early on if he's falling into some sort of madness, since his feelings about the world keep changing drastically from one minute to the next.
  • He listens outside his window for people waiting for a train. He expects the man in a neighboring apartment to be home soon. When the man arrives on schedule, Antoine feels a thrill that makes him think he's been cured of any madness.
  • He closes these opening passages by saying that there's only one case in which keeping a diary would be interesting, but doesn't tell us what it is. Thanks, Antoine.

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