Why is the novel titled ‘Nausea’ by Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea publication in 1938. From that time, Nausea has become a central term for describing the pain associated with existential philosophy. Specifically, the term describes the sickness that Antoine Roquentin feels when he realizes that beneath all of the pretty words, he uses to describe the world, there’s just a brute, naked existence that doesn’t care about him or anything he does. There is nobody beside him except loneliness.  

  More Notes: Nausea

The title Nausea is iconic. But Nausea was not actually the first name. Sartre originally titled the book “Melancholia”, but his publisher felt that this title is not enough to get people’s attention.   

His manuscript was rejected for the first time. Sartre decided to rename his book, “The Extraordinary Adventures of Antoine Roquentin”. In this case, he must have been joking, since Nausea doesn’t contain anything remotely close to an adventure. The title was no doubt ironic since Nausea is often boring and meandering on purpose, in order to make its point about the pain of being alive.  

More Notes: Suggestions

In the end, Sartre agreed to the title Nausea. It wasn’t his choice, but his publisher liked it. Sartre didn’t like the word because he felt that people would associate Antoine’s illness with something physical, like real nausea, rather than the philosophical pain that Sartre was trying to explore.  

In the end, it seems that the publisher made an excellent title for this iconic novel. Instead of having people misinterpret the term nausea, Sartre succeeded in defining this word for the twentieth century. After the 1938s, readers would continue to associate it with the “pain of existence” that Sartre analyzed through the story of Antoine Roquentin. 

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

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

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