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The Age of Reason (Penguin Modern Classics)

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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.

Thanks for this interesting review and discussion of the text, it’s interesting to see how Satre’s philosophical ideas and themes are incorporated into a novel. Boris had bought a large clasp knife and on a whim Ivich uses it to cut a deep slash right across her palm. Put like that, maybe Sartre and his philosophy have disappeared because they have been so thoroughly subsumed into our modern attitude.I first read the Age of Reason in early 2005 aged 19 and it transformed my view of literature—it’s at once a gripping and brilliant story, but it also deals with Sartre’s complex philosophical concepts.

French author and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was awarded (and declined) the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature. This is something most of us realize, at least on some level, but I don't think I've ever seen it rendered so well in fiction. Mathieu is a 34-year-old, tall, gangly philosophy teacher who spends a lot of time mooching round the streets of Paris feeling sorry for himself. In the years around the time of his death, however, existentialism declined in French philosophy and was overtaken by structuralism, represented by Levi-Strauss and, one of Sartre's detractors, Michel Foucault.Boris believes it to be a cocaine overdose having found her apparently cold and lifeless on his bed in the morning. Rest assured, Delarue’s personal freedom faces greater challenges as World War II commences, essentially making his problems in his first outing inconsequential. It’s at this moment Delarue finally announces his situation to Boris, who suggests Lola will provide him with the four thousand francs he needs.

With alcohol in his system, Delarue begins to opine over the nature of Ivich, remarking: “I love that girl for her purity. I liked Age of Reason very much, and while constant jumping of perspectives in Reprieve sounds like a good idea, I find it too difficult to follow. A long filament hung from her lips, she had to cough it away… She watched the dabs of mucus sliding slowly towards the drainpipe leaving glossy, viscous tracks behind them, like snails. Sartre shows how difficult it can be to take charge of one's own life -- to accept that one has the responsibilities that come with 'the age of reason' -- and none of his characters achieve it in this volume. She sometimes had the feeling that her life had come to a stop one day at noon, and she herself was an embodied, eternal noontide brooding upon her little world, a dank and rainy world, without hope or purpose….Iron in the Soul is somewhat similar to Age of Reason and well worth a read, but doesn’t have the same lighter tone.

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