Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Age of Reason” as Want to Read:
The Age of Reason
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Age of Reason (Les Chemins de la Liberté #1)

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  9,065 Ratings  ·  355 Reviews
Set in the volatile Paris summer of 1938, The Age of Reason follows two days in the life of Mathieu Delarue, a philosophy teacher, and his circle in the cafes and bars of Montparnasse. Mathieu has so far managed to contain sex and personal freedom in conveniently separate compartments. But now he is in trouble, urgently trying to raise 4,000 francs to procure a safe aborti ...more
Paperback, 324 pages
Published June 29th 2009 by Penguin Group (Australia) (first published January 1st 1945)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
This is an excellent novel about unpleasant people, with some unforgettable scenes. Here's one of the ones I liked most. Daniel, a strange character who has never managed to establish a normal connection with the world, has been hovering on the edge of suicide for some time. He's finally decided he's going to do it. But he can't just leave his three cats to starve to death, so he puts them in a wicker basket and takes them down to the river to drown them. The basket is too small, and he can hear ...more
May 19, 2013 Tej rated it really liked it
‘Age of Reason’ is all about existentialism. Fiction and philosophy inextricably and ‘entertainingly’ combined almost rendering it a page-turner. I had never previously come across the guile and craft of Sartre, the artist and only knew Sartre, the philosopher whose authoritative philosophical monologues were curt and declarative, sans the resplendence of an artistic canvas. The vivacity and vividness with which Sartre paints each one of his characters amidst their existential exigencies leaves ...more
Nov 27, 2015 Ahmed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
سن الرشد ..... جان بول سارتر

الكتب لم توضع كي نؤمن بما تقوله، ولكن كي نتحرى فيها، لا يجب أن نتساءل أمام كتاب ماذا يقول، ولكن ماذا يريد أن يقول.

هذه الرواية لم تُخلق ليُكتب عنها، بل وُجدت لتٌقرأ وتُقرأ فقط لنعيش في أجواءها.
ملحمة من العلاقات الإنسانية شديدة التعقيد والتداخل تدور أحداثها في فترة فوضوية انعكستفوضويتها على شخوصها.
هي رواية عن الحب والرغبة والجبن، رواية عن الإنسان في كافة مراحل حياته.

روايةتشعر أمامها انها تتحدث عنك انت، لا غيرك.

رواية صعب تكتب عنها، أو تتحدث حتى عنها لانها ببساطة هي من تت
Mar 13, 2007 melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had this job one summer at a Dillard's department store. I worked in the linens section. Nobody shops for sheets in the summer, I guess, because I spent a lot of time doing absolutely nothing. My boyfriend used to write me letters and send me to work with them so that I would have something to read. Well that got old so one day when I was poking around the props (you know - how they set up the entire fancy-pants mock bedrooms?) I found a copy of this book on a table. So I parked myself on a st ...more
Stephanie A. Higa
Mar 23, 2008 Stephanie A. Higa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of dialogue
Shelves: france
This is basically a soap opera with brains and direction, which is my favorite kind of book ever. The character development is EXTRAORDINARY. I recommend this book on that facet alone. I didn't read this as an exemplification of Sartre's philosophy, but rather as a study of the philosophy of the characters in the story. None of these people are truly likable, but they are all the more human because of that. Even the most agreeable people think disagreeable thoughts. This is something most of us ...more

--The Age of Reason
Soap opera with brains. Yes, I can agree with this. Caring about other people while watching their little lives and dramas is so much more fulfilling when they prove themselves to have complex despair behind their everyday actions. It never ends, really. The constant proving to oneself that this life is worthwhile, that the hopes of the past and the dreams of the future won't go to waste. Mathieu keeps to his belief of freedom, to be capable of anything, no matter what constraints have been laid ...more
Keinwyn Shuttleworth
I found this book on a much neglected dusty shelf in a back-alley-esque section of my local library and decided to take it home with me. I had never read anything written by Jean-Paul Sartre before (purely due to Sartre's intimidating reputation) but something about The Age Of Reason demanded to be read. Needless to say, I soon found myself swimming in the erratic seas of Mathieu Delarue's chaotic existence, completely in awe of Sartre's understanding of human impetus.

We meet Mathieu, a philoso
Jan 05, 2009 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first part of his Freedom series should be required reading for any existentialist approaching his mid-30s without any aspirations of marrying or falling in line. Mathieu, a French philosophy professor, spends most of the novel trying to borrow money so he can pay for his mistresses' abortion. His friends are a sorted bunch who attempt to take away his only goal: ultimate freedom.

Some literary experts say the protagonist must transform by the end. But what makes this book so great is that
Jan 19, 2014 Bettie☯ marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

Apparently the BBC aired this series of books back in the 70s but now there is a conspiracy of silence as to just why it is not available. source

All that I have found is a documentary here. Easy to see the free-press roots of Charlie Hebdo in this and aren't we all vehemently against terrorism in all its forms? Sartre in his later years endorsed attacks as 'the atomic bomb of the poor.'

Seems like a flip-flop to me. He was a man for and of a tiny window in on-going history.

آلاء  بن سلمان
مرعبة ، عظيمة ، تقدّس سارتر.
Greg Deane
Jul 25, 2013 Greg Deane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jean-Paul Sartre’s three volume work, “Les Chemins de la liberté” (The Roads to Freedom), may be one of the earliest literary endeavours featuring an existentialist hero, through whom Sartre explores the problems that modern man encounters as individuals came to terms with the onus implicit in freedom and decision. The first book, “L'âge de raison” (The Age of Reason), introduces Mathieu Delarue, based on Sartre himself. He is a recluse with few friends and little money, confronted with the choi ...more
“I have led a toothless life … a toothless life. I have never bitten into anything. I was waiting. I was reserving myself for later on – and I have just noticed that my teeth have gone.”

Reading The Age of Reason felt like navigating the dark recesses of my subconscious and coming face-to-face with my innermost anxieties. If that sounds awful, that’s because it kind of was. I don’t think I’ve ever finished a book on such a low note. I also don’t think I’ve ever finished a book feeling so understo
Steven  Godin
Over the course of two days in Paris during a hot summer in 1938, philosophy teacher Mathieu Delarue has a crisis on his hands, he needs to raise funds for an abortion so his life can retain the total freedom that he so dearly clings to, all the while there is a circulating tension with the threat of war looming. 'The Age of Reason' captures this period in time very well, but the overall narrative left me cold.

Expertly written?, yes, but drags along in places, Matthieu himself was a deeply studi
Mar 11, 2015 Ninni rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A middle-classed white man finds life difficult, because annoying unattractive women either don't fall in love with him, or fall in love too easily, or just go and get pregnant as soon as you fuck them. Life is so damn unfair because one can't just do whatever one likes without consequences. Oh, and life beyond 30 is pointless.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sara Abdulaziz
May 31, 2017 Sara Abdulaziz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“إنهما يتشبثان بشبابهما كما يتشبّث محتضرٌ بالحياة”. | سارتر

التشبُّث بالشباب كان وظيفة كل شخصيات الجزء الأول من ثلاثية سارتر “سن الرشد”، إذ تمسّكت به مارسيل الفتاة العليلة حبيسة المنزل لأن الموت يترصدها خارجه عبر التمسك بحملها الذي لم يكن مخططًا له، ولا مرغوبًا من قِبل شريكها، بينما تمسكت به إيفيش عبر العبث والإهتمام المبالغ فيه بنفسها، أما لولا فقد كانت تحافظ على شبابها عبر حب شابٍ أصغر منها، لتثبت لنفسها في كل يومٍ لا يهجرها فيه بأنها ما تزال في شبابها. في حين تمسّك دانيال بشبابه عبر التلاعب بح
May 18, 2015 Ian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite-books
I'd never read Sartre before and was expecting a difficult read. Whilst I probably didn't pick up on all the philosophical themes I did thoroughly enjoy this tale of fairly unlikeable people and their relationships with each other. There's little fun to be had with this novel but it does convey a remarkable depth of characterisation, nobody comes out of it very well and indeed none of the cast seem particularly enamored with each other.

It all takes place over a very brief period of time just be
Jan 14, 2008 Cody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Nausea by Sartre while in college and really go into Existentialism and novels based on Existential themes. After Nausea (which is great!) I had only read a few essays and some short stories by Sartre. Now, a few years later, I wanted to get back into Sartre and I thought I would start by reading his Freedom trilogy. I began with The Age of reason, a story about a man dealing with the inevitability of becoming middle-aged and possibly becoming a father. The catch is...he is neither ready ...more
Jan 13, 2011 d. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"ponavljao je u sebi zevajući: tačno je, ipak je tačno: nalazim se u zrelom dobu."

matje, boris, danijel, marsela, ivish, lola su lichnosti na chijim ispreplitanim egzistencijama se zasniva ovaj blago filozofichni roman. poredjala sam ih po lichnom nahodjenju-dopadanju; mushki karakteri se bore za prevlast prvog mesta poshto mi se emocije bude i nadilaze jedna drugu dok razmishljam o svakom ponaosob, chudno je bih mogla napraviti definitivan izbor..matje je prvi samo zato shto je ovo njego
Sep 05, 2012 Sérgio rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prosa
Comprei esta velha edição de bolso francesa numa feira de antiguidades por 1€ e estava longe de esperar algo tão marcante.

Numa Paris em que a tensão pré-2ª Guerra Mundial é algo palpável seguimos a vida de algumas personagens, sendo a principal Mathieu, um professor de 34 anos que tenta levar à prática um ideal de vida de liberdade sem compromissos (tanto emocionais como a ideologias particulares). Quando a sua amante engravida, ele vê-se perante um dilema sem respostas fáceis.

Para mim o enredo
Manasvi mudgal
The book would have been much better had Hemingway written it. The setting, the characters are all there, and in the end it's just too much naval gazing. I'd summarize the difference as follows:

In a similar setting Hemingway's characters while knowing life is shit, would drink and stay miserable while having mighty grand fun, and so would the reader. There would be fishing, whining, drinking, smoking, more fishing, more whining and so on.
They'd be like "fuck it man, let's drink and chill and wh
Surbhi Verma
Jul 02, 2016 Surbhi Verma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Age of Reason constantly debates what the idea of freedom is for a man. Whether growing old means one should make every decision with reason or simply reconciliation. Set in the backdrop of Second World War, the characters seem completely oblivious, choosing to live their insular lives with their selfish ambitions - chasing their own version of freedom. Seen from an individual's perspective, freedom seems justified but not entirely when contrasted to humanity. Sartre's thinking makes for a t ...more
Feb 16, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it
I was expecting this to be 'difficult' but it wasn't and I really enjoyed it. To see my review please visit
David Sarkies
Aug 22, 2013 David Sarkies rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Existentialists & Modernists
Recommended to David by: A Baptist Church (Well, not really, but they called him a heretic, which made me want to read him)
Shelves: modernist
The Essence of Freedom
25 November 2013

This is probably one of the first Satre books that I have read, and while I am not tearing through the bookshops (and libraries) looking for more of his work, I must say that it was a interesting read. I guess there are a couple of reasons it took me so long to get to Satre and one of them would be that since a lot of my friends were either Christians (or basically didn't read) then all I would hear is how evil and bad Satre is, and that by reading Satre yo
Feb 19, 2013 Don rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: european-novel
The BBC’s famous production of ‘Roads to Freedom’ , broadcast in 1970 was a seminal experience for a whole generation of Brits who were marked by the events of May 1968 and the prospect of a late 20th century dominated by the intellectual insights of the Mediterranean and Latin world, and the displacement of hegemony of the Anglo-Saxon.

I was one of them. In those days it felt like the world was in revolt and the only decent thing to do was join the revolution. The French had thrown their bourgeo
Jan 12, 2010 Natali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wouldn't call this novel beautiful because the characters are so tedious, but the story is strangely captivating. It reminded me why we should all tame our runaway thoughts. If, as this book and existentialist theory would have us believe, the most profound philosophical condition revolves around individual thought, then our philosophical condition can be so silly. Superfluous even. Jean-Paul Sarte writes about really capable people who are fundamentally insecure, petulant, and selfish. They r ...more
Alyssa Mitchell
One of my favorites. However, I only appreciated it once I reached a certain level of maturity. It dives into the deeper consciousness of each character underneath the basic thoughts. It makes you realize how insecure and all over the place all of humanity really is. The message I get from this book is "Miserable? You are not alone."
Robert Wechsler
Jun 17, 2016 Robert Wechsler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit
The novel is dated, especially in its operatic anguish, but it drew me in and held my interest throughout. Although there is a great deal of dialogue, there are also passages of beauty and some powerful scenes. The characters (not realistically drawn) and the omniscient narrator provide Sartre with a way to present his view of life on the eve of World War II, sometimes too baldly.
Yasemin Bozbey
Jun 20, 2016 Yasemin Bozbey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Varoluşçuluk versus aşk :)
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect publisher 4 21 Jan 25, 2016 02:35PM  
  • The Mandarins
  • The First Man
  • Strait is the Gate
  • Thomas the Obscure
  • The Captive & The Fugitive (In Search of Lost Time, #5-6)
  • Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre
  • The Flanders Road
  • Le Grand Meaulnes
  • The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin
  • The Masterpiece (Les Rougon-Macquart, #14)
  • Discourse on Method and Related Writings
  • Manon des Sources (L'eau des collines, #2)
  • Man's Fate
  • Selected Poems
Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre, normally known simply as Jean-Paul Sartre, was a French existentialist philosopher and pioneer, dramatist and screenwriter, novelist and critic. He was a leading figure in 20th century French philosophy.

He declined the award of the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his work which, rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom and the quest for truth, has ex
More about Jean-Paul Sartre...

Other Books in the Series

Les Chemins de la Liberté (3 books)
  • The Reprieve
  • Iron in the Soul

Share This Book

“She smiled and said with an ecstatic air: "It shines like a little diamond",
"What does?"
"This moment. It is round, it hangs in empty space like a little diamond; I am eternal.”
“The individual's duty is to do what he wants to do, to think whatever he likes, to be accountable to no one but himself, to challenge every idea and every person.” 82 likes
More quotes…