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

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

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  6,274 ratings  ·  243 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.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Age of Reason, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Age of Reason

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
‘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
I always thought I have already read many of Sartre’s greatest works: Nausea, Le diable et le bon dieu, The flies, Dirty Hands or The Words. But yet, this one is another outstanding novel. It is also the first part of the trilogy The Roads to Freedom, so I will still have a long journey ahead with Sartre.

This is full of Existentialism.

There are so many characters with their special concerns. Mathieu-a philosophy teacher who seems to be Sartre himself, Marcelle – Mathieu’s mistress, Boris Mathie
Stephanie A. Higa
Mar 24, 2008 Stephanie A. Higa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
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
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
Greg Deane
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
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
I was expecting this to be 'difficult' but it wasn't and I really enjoyed it. To see my review please visit
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
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
The first in the trilogy, the one I didn't read. I'm not going to do that to myself now. I won't travel the Les Chemins backwards. I'm still not certain if an effect could precede a cause. But one thing I do know is this Mathieu guy could bring up last night's dinner.

As always, read the French. The English translation of Les Chemins is unforgivable, sodden, swampy, horribly out-dated. You'll get stuck every other step of the way. and the way is long. I always loved reading existentialists. Perh
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
Michael A.
As part of a recent trip to Paris, I thought it would be a good idea to re-read the first of the Sartre's Roads to Freedom trilogy, works that I found deeply meaningful when I first read them as a college student in the 1970s. I was disappointed to find that the book was just okay. This time around, I found the characters' self-absorption, their frequent mutual hostility and their constant agonizing about the nature of individual freedom to be mostly tiresome and narcissistic, certainly not insp ...more
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
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."
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
David Sarkies
Jan 23, 2014 David Sarkies rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
A novel that will make you question many many things that constitute life. The idea of freedom and the consequences, the questions, and the ifs of retaining it. Acceptance is hard for the characters in the novel. There is a lot of philosophy, a lot of it but not much depth. But, there is one sure thing and that is, it is real. It will make you think in a way that you will deal with your reality in a much better way.
The Age of Reason is the Age where you are more than thirty years old and you mu
The character Mathieu describes himself as being the embodiment of negation. He hates himself for his sense of disconnection from actual experience. Like Elliot Smith who sang, "I'm waiting for something that's not coming," Mathieu is another victim who can't shake the sensation that "life is elsewhere." Throughout the novel we watch him squirm over what to do with his one wild and precious life. Should he marry his knocked-up girlfriend, seduce his best friend's little sister, or become a commu ...more
There's a bit where Sartre describes Mathieu's sister-in-law: she's pretty, but "Mathieu had on countless occasions tried to unify these fluid features, but they escaped him; as a face, Odette's always seemed to be dissolving, and thus retained its elusive bourgeois mystery." (p. 127) And that's a little how I feel about this book, halfway through; it's certainly very good, and pretty to look at, but it's weirdly slippery. I can't quite get a handle on it.

That may be my fault. Tough to say what
This is French writing heavily-influenced by authors who came before him--I see so much Flaubert and (even more so) Balzac in the description, scene construction, and characters (mostly youngish men in Paris, on the edge of "the age of reason"). The character of Mathieu is developed to be such a dud, intentionally, that when the climactic decision-making rests on him, and his decision is ultimately the most cowardly of the possibilities and deemed to be "for nothing," I was disappointed. However ...more
Jul 03, 2013 Cameron rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cameron by: nobody
This is not a joyful book. However, it is an extraordinary novel, even if I thought it rather too long. Set in the apartments, streets, cafés and nightclubs of 1938 Paris, with only a handful of characters, it has the makings of a play. I was about half-way through the book before I could sense where this might be going. However, it worked extraordinarily well for me and I enjoyed it. It was addictive. The escapades of the characters reminded me of my own youth, and the Paris of my holidays beca ...more
I wasn't expecting to like this that much and I didn't really (although it's a good novel, I suppose). From reading the blurb it just sounded too much like a John Updike-style of novel: a plot that seems trivial and unimportant elevated to importance by some trick or other that the writer uses. With Updike, it is the hyperactive, ornate language: with Sartre (as you probably guessed) it is profound meditations on angst and existentialist philosophy. Like Updike, I felt that Sartre's method was f ...more
Jonathan Hockey
A book I was not able to read a few years back when I had too many preconceptions regarding the philosophy of existentialism and of Sartre in particular. It is a book best read free from these labels in its own right and in its own context, in paris, just before the second world war. Yes, the themes of existentialism come up. Particularly regarding the freedom to choose ones own life course, and ones own sense of meaning and purpose, and how much one can genuinely follow this through in difficul ...more
Ceea ce ma incanta la aceasta carte este modul in care Sartre se foloseste de situatii exceptionale pentru a intra in mintea personajelor si destoinicia cu care infatiseaza traiectoriile ideilor acestora.

Desi atat de diferite, personajele au totusi un lucru in comun - pe care Sartre il scoate capabil la suprafata - neputinta de a se ghida dupa anumite reguli si zadarnicia de care dau dovada in cautarea libertatii, de a caror forma nu sunt constienti. Accentul este pus astfel pe caracterul daun
This is the first book by Sartre I've read and I didn't know what to expect. Less than halfway through, I realized that, much like Simone de Beauvoir in "The Mandarins", Sartre could handle fiction as masterfully as he tackled philosophy.

This novel explains existentialism in an entertaining and engaging way. None of the characters feel satisfied with their current state of affairs and that makes their lives and they way they try to extricate themselves from their present situations a very compe
Sitara Kashif
after reading this novel i fell in love with Sartre and started believing strongly that 35 is the age of reason.........
there isn't any single character whose story has been narrated in this novel, but somehow the whole center of focus is Mathew. he is a staunch nonbeliever and existentialist, when we first meet him he is a master of his own life type personality , then he is informed that he is going to be a father and everything changes. he visits every friend and relative to collect four hun
Scrivere questa recensione è molto difficile. Tutta l'intera storia è circondata da un perenne senso di angoscia e tensione tra quello che si dovrebbe fare, quello che si vorrebbe essere, e l'accontentarsi delle mezze vie.
Tutti i personaggi hanno una corposa e palpabile personalità: la debole e dipendente Marcella; l'individualista Matteo che, pur di essere coerente con le sue idee di 'uomo libero', finisce per ferire in maniera inconsapevole Marcella costringendola (anzi, convincendola in una m
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • She Came to Stay
  • Exile and the Kingdom
  • The Immoralist
  • Thomas the Obscure
  • In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower (In Search of Lost Time, #2)
  • Man's Fate
  • Death on the Installment Plan
  • The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin
  • Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre
  • The Essays: A Selection
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...
Nausea No Exit and Three Other Plays Being and Nothingness No Exit The Wall

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.” 53 likes
More quotes…