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The Age of Reason (Penguin Modern Classics)

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Reading the Brunet sections makes you wonder whether the aim of the book is Communist propaganda (after the war, when this book was being written, Sartre came out as a self-proclaimed Marxist). As she’s Boris’ sister, at some point she’s been introduced to Mathieu who seems to fall for her due to her looks and youth, with the two sharing an odd relationship based on the professor teaching Ivich about high culture. However, despite the tone being set in this first chapter, the abortion element of the story doesn’t dominate proceedings as Delarue finds himself increasingly drawn into, particularly, the lives of young Boris and Ivich. Peeved, Ivich’s strange mind kicks into action—she begins hacking and slashing at her left hand, spilling blood onto their table.

Unpleasant enough, but the text goes way beyond a universal physical revulsion into metaphysical disgust.Each name springs up in mind in a color and the association with that color is complete, character and the color inextricable from each other.

His characters are a god-forsaken lot, condemned, abandoned and carrying on their shoulders the ‘burden’ of their freedoms. Despite going to great lengths to achieve this, noting many French women’s startled reactions as they see his handsome mug home into view, he eventually backs out of the idea. Eventually, the taxi pulls up next to the museum, with Ivich and Mathieu alighting and heading into the latest exhibition without exchanging a word.I read this book on a lovely sunny day and couldn’t help thinking that all the characters in it needed to get out more, to get a hobby, get some exercise, and generally get a life. The Age of Reason is the first of the trilogy, a third-person narrative set in Paris in 1938 which focuses on two days in the life of Mathieu Delarue (French for ‘of the street’).

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