Nausea English Summary

Key Facts

Original Title: La Nausee (French name)

Meaning of the title: Nausea means feeling Nauseated, uncomfortable, or embarrassed. In this novel Protagonist finds his existence by encountering Nausea.

Writer: Jean-Paul Sartre, An atheist (1905-1980)

Published date: 1938 in France. 1949 in England

Genre: Psychological Novel/ Existential novel.

Form: Written in a Diary.


                 Time Setting: January of 1932.

                  Place Setting: Bouville (fictional port of France)

Themes: Existentialism, consciousness, loneliness, transformation, and freedom.

Features of Existentialism:

  1. Man is responsible for his own actions
  2. Man is the maker of his own fortune
  3. The body is more important than the soul
  4. Existence (human existence) precedes essence (human qualities). (First existence then essence)
  5. The present is everything. No past, no future. There is nothing except present.


Antoine Roquentin: The Protagonist of 30 years.

Self-Taught Man (Ogier P)– Book lover who wants to finish reading the books alphabetically.

Anny: Ex-girlfriend of Antoine Roquentin. They were in a relationship 6 months before the novel started. She lives in Paris.

Marquis De Rollebon: French aristocrat and political personality. Roquentin’s research is based on him.

Francois: Barmaid of a cafe. Roquentin fills up his sexual urge with her.

Monsieur Fasquelle: Manager of Café Mably


This novel can be easily described in 6 stages. After reading these six stages and the last 7 important topics once, the entire concept of this novel will be completely clear.

6 Stages:

1. Antoine Roquentin’s purpose for coming to Bouville

2. His Nausea feeling events

3. Antoine Roquentin meets Self-Taught Man and Francaise

4. Experiencing existentialism

5. Meeting Anny in Paris

6. Returning to Antoine Roquentin’s Bouville and experiencing existentialism one last time

Lets discuss the summary point to point

1. Antoine Roquentin’s purpose for coming to Bouville

The novel begins in January 1932, when Antoine Roquentin, the protagonist of the novel, travels around the world. He then comes to a fictional port city in France called Bouville. That is, there is no port city in France named Bouville.

Antoine Roquentin is in the city because he wants to write about Marquis De Rollebon, a French politician and aristocrat. That is, he wants to write a biography of the Marquis de Rollebon.

2. His Nausea feeling events. (first, second, and third time)

Antoine Roquentin goes through the day in an uncomfortable situation. That’s why nothing feels good to him. Nausea is shown in a few places.

Firstly, one day he found a piece of stone. He thought, is it really a piece of stone? Or is any paper wet and stiff? In this place, he is not able to understand what this object actually is! So he was feeling very embarrassed and fell ill. He bent down and tried to lift the object, but could not lift it. At this time he began to feel Nausea. This condition is initially called Nausea in the Novel. Antoine Roquentin felt that such situations should be noted. That is, how he feels now, he started to write down everything in the diary.

Secondly, shortly after that, he went to a cafe. He went there and took a glass with him. He took the glass in hand and began to think about his existence. He is thinking about different things in different places, this is Nausea. He feels now, whatever is going on inside him, the things he is thinking about, this thought is not his alone. Rather, everyone in the world is passing through such thoughts. This is how to feel, this is Nausea. And this matter is not only in him and in this place but is spread throughout the world and among everyone.

Thirdly, in replying to Anny’s letter to convey the Nausea condition

Then Antoine Roquentin receives a letter from his ex-girlfriend Anny. In this letter, Anny asks Antoine Roquentin to go to Paris and meet her. Antoine Roquentin also wants to meet Anny. And he wants to convey that nothing feels good, everything feels the way it does. In one word, he wants to explain the condition of Nausea.

3. Antoine Roquenti meets Self-Taught Man and Francaise

Antoine Roquentin then went to a nearby library to read about the Marquis de Rollebon in order to write his biography. There he met The Self-Taught Man. This guy was reading all the books in the library alphabetically (a,b,c,,,,z). So this is how Antoine Roquentin spent his days in Nausea. He used to go to the library, and read books with Self-Taught Man.

Then Antoine Roquentin met Francaise. Antoine Roquentin had sex with her in exchange for money. There was no love here. Physical needs were met only in exchange for money.

4. Experiencing existentialism

For the first time, Roquentin stopped writing about Marquis de Rollebon feeling existentialist

So while going through this Nausea situation, Antoine Roquentin at one point felt that writing about Marquis de Rollebon was utterly futile. That is, there is no point in writing about him. The Marquis de Rollebon is dead. He is past. That is, thinking or writing about the person who died is a waste of time. Here he glorifies others by giving up his own existence. This means that thinking about the past is nothing but a waste of time. Because the past will not come back. Just as the past does not return, so does Rollebon. In Existentialism, we have seen that there is no value in the past or the future. The present is given the highest priority. Here Antoine Roquentin forgets his existence and drags something from the past. That is, in writing about a person who has died, he is giving up his own existence. He realized 2 things at this point,

  • He is alone in this world. He was forgetting his own existence while writing about others.
  • The present should be given utmost importance. Looking at the past is futile.

After realizing these two things, he stopped writing about Marquis de Rollebon. One of the features of existentialism shown in Nobel’s passage is duality. That is, Antoine Roquentin is comparing himself to the Marquis de Rollebon. He was so oblivious to himself that when he looked into the mirror he saw Marquis de Rollebon instead of himself.

Secondly, experiencing existentialism

Then one day at lunch Self-Taught Man told Antoine Roquentin that he believed in socialism and humanism. Believing in socialism and humanism, he places great importance on the people around him and their opinions. He emphasizes socialism. He says that socialism is a financial system in which there is an equitable distribution of everything produced within a particular community. That is, in this place, he shows his socialist mentality and tries to influence Antoine Roquentin.

But to Antoine Roquentin it seems worthless. Because he thought about his existentialism a while ago. He stopped writing about Marquis de Rollebon, concerned about his own survival. Humanism and socialism are of no importance to him. Self-Taught Man then tells Antoine Roquentin about a book called “Is life worth living” to motivate him more. Human life has no specific meaning. The meaning we give to our life is what our life will be. But Antoine Roquentin thought to himself that there was a stark difference between the ideas of the author of this book and his. But on this matter, he kept quiet as he did not want to enter into a controversy with Self-Taught Man.

The third time, experiencing existentialism

After lunch, Antoine Roquentin sat on a tram and began to think about existentialism. Then he sat under a chestnut tree in the park. Then he felt that he had discovered his own existence. He started talking to the tree. He continued to talk about the virtues of the tree, without looking at the external site of the tree. At that place park chairs, and benches kept thinking about their names. They are named by people. But does it really have any real connection with its name? They could have been named something else. That is, people are using everything according to their needs and naming it but there is no real relationship with it. It is implied here, that as long as we remain indifferent to our existentialism, nothing can accurately represent our existence. Thus he is trying to find his existence.

5. Meeting Anny in Paris

That night, Antoine Roquentin decides to go to Paris to meet Anny. He thought that since Anny had invited him on her own, maybe Anny wanted to continue the relationship again. He would visit Bouville once and return permanently to stay with Anny in Paris. About 6 years later Antoine Roquentin met Anny.

But seeing Anny in this place, Antoine Roquentin thought, Anny, is fatter than before. Her appearance has deteriorated. Anny used to act on stage. Her performance was quite good. And with every moment she adapted herself very well. But Now, Anny doesn’t care about the perfect moment when it comes to acting. And she now lives with his new boyfriend in exchange for money. That is, Anny’s boyfriend has only sexual relations with her, in return he pays Anny. At this point, Anny tells Antoine Roquentin that she enjoys life too much. She no longer wants to return to Antoine Roquentin. The next day Anny goes back to London with her new boyfriend.

6. Returning to Antoine Roquentin’s Bouville and experiencing existentialism one last time

Meanwhile, Antoine Roquentin moves to Bouville. He spent some time here. One day he hears that the librarian named Corsican, saw Self-Taught Man shaking hands with a young boy. That is, it indicates a sexual relationship (Abusive). Seeing this, the librarian beat him and chased him away. He is banned from coming to this library for the rest of his life. Although Self-Taught did not have a good relationship with Antoine Roquentin, nor did he like him, he did not believe such accusations against Self-Taught. So the situation becomes more embarrassing for Antoine Roquentin. So he decides to leave Bouville.

So she goes to a cafe and meets Francois and bade farewell to her. Antoine Roquentin sometimes spent time with Franchise, having sex in exchange for money. Sometimes he felt embarrassed in this place, sometimes he felt insecure. However, they bid each other farewell without sincerity. Because there was no relationship between them other than sex in exchange for money transactions. There was no emotion on anyone’s part here.

Experiencing existentialism for the last time

When Antoine Roquentin arrives, a waitress at the cafe tells him that she will play a record of her favorite song “Some of these days” for Antoine Roquentin. The record of this song has a lot of stains. That is, it was almost destroyed. Seeing this, Antoine Roquentin thought, this record is only a material instrument. But its existence is hidden in its songs. And its existence is still intact. That is, even though the record is about to be destroyed, the song is still intact. Antoine Roquentin then began to think that the record was a material instrument.

So the record doesn’t depend on it but he has to create something that will sustain his existence like this song. So he decided, leaving this research work, will write a novel. And this novel will sustain its existence. That is, he will write a biographical novel to sustain his own existence. And here the novel ends.

7 Important topics:

  1. Existence precedes essence: Sarte argues that existence precedes essence to remove the obstacles to human freedom. If existence precedes qualities, then the man himself will create his qualities and he himself will be responsible for his actions. There is no need for God to exist in this way of thinking.
  1. Bad Faith- The tendency to present oneself as different from one’s free existence is called bad faith.
  • Bad faith of Monsieur Fasquelle He valued himself by his profession. But he forgot that his profession was chosen by himself. No one else forced this profession on him. So this is his bad faith.
  • Bad Faith of Self-Taught Man

This man thinks he will finish reading all the books in the Bouville Library. And he seemed the wisest. But eventually, he wanted to sexually harass a boy. Here is a self-contradictory thought. That is, its outer shell is the same but its inner shell is different. This is bad faith. Again, he is trying to become the most knowledgeable by reading only books and other people’s knowledge. This is also Bad Faith.

  • Bad faith of Anny

  Anny can’t love Roquentin. Then again, she doesn’t love her boyfriend. She only has money in exchange from him. But she is waiting for a perfect moment. It is bad faith.

  • Bad faith of a young couple

This young couple thinks they are innocent but they are sexually attracted to each other.

  1. Isolation: Our protagonist suffers from complete isolation from beginning to end. The main reason is Nausea. He would go very deep into every object. That is why he had a dislike for people. And so he became isolated. Anny also suffers from loneliness.
  1. Subjective consciousness: Everything that is around us is not evaluated by one’s own but by others. Like a tree, a poet would represent in one way. A botanist will present another way. That is, evaluating an object or a person from one’s own perspective is subjective consciousness. Existentialism manifests through this.
  1. Responsibility and Freedom: If someone is given freedom then responsibility also comes along with it. And when one is responsible, he gains his freedom.
  1. Superficiality: Exaggerating attitudes. Man prefers to exaggerate people’s attitudes rather than what they have. It is within everyone. Superficiality is more visible in Self-Taught Man in this novel.
  1. Absurdity: meaninglessness

Man’s absurdity is revealed only in revealing superficiality.

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

Articles: 230

Leave a Reply

error: Sorry !!