Sartre: Nausea (Analysis)

Sartre nausea

Nausea as an ontological feeling

Nausea is the first novel by Jean-Paul Sartre, published in 1938. This novel tells the ontological experience of Roquentin, a young studient, who came in Bouville to study the story of an emigrant through the archives of the city. This project is easily discouraged, the boredom wins: “I no longer write the book. It’s over, I can not write. What will I do with my life? Nothing. Exist.” This book and this historical Roquentin allowed not to feel his being, to forget his existence.

This novel project abandoned Roquentin indeed feels a sense of contingency, he understands that his existence is unjustified, without right: “Never before in recent days, I had sensed what it meant to exist ‘.” This awareness is accompanied by a feeling of unease, discomfort ontological: nausea.

This experience becomes obsessive for Roquentin, existence takes him by the throat. A public garden, a coffee refers to contingency: “Everything is free, the garden, this city and myself”


Roquentin face alone and contingent, there are the bastards, the citizens, who believe justifiably exist, exist because it is their right. These people are their clothes, their social status. Roquentin him, man support themselves, that is to say nothing.

Life is always “too much” nor I nor the tree in the garden have room. No escape. Nausea refers to this sense of being in the way of things, to live like any other object in the world, to live as root or bench chestnut or ash. Exist in the manner of things amounts to no longer exist as a consciousness.

Thus, the nausea is the constant risk of consciousness, a mess it can be caught. However, nausea is a starting point, a feeling which may be exceeded.

Exceeding the Nausea

At the end of the novel, Roquentin talk of a new book project. The project cost for the character to say no, refuse to objectification, to pose as an unrestricted freedom, to open possibilities. This project allows him to assert itself as nothingness, that is to say, as being endowed with freedom.

Roquentin knows he will always be too many, but he will assume in projecting into the future.

Roquentin feels alive again as consciousness while listening to a song, a human construction that resists the absurdity of the world of things.


Cite this article as: Tim, "Sartre: Nausea (Analysis), May 20, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, May 20, 2012,

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