by Jean-Paul Sartre
translated by Lloyd Alexander
A volume containing five stories. Each of these is repugnant in its own
way, coming a little too close to the characters' personalities for the
reader's comfort. The protagonists in the stories all deal with
existentialist crises, much like Roquentin in Nausea does (in fact, some passages contain identical phrasing to describe these feelings). The stories:
A fairly straightforward account of a wife who almost leaves her
impotent husband. She suffers in that, like Roquentin, the essence of
people is stripped away for her, and she sees nothing but their rather
"Erostratus." A portrait of a serial
killer (predating Henry). He can't handle humans existing all around him
either, and fires off a diatribe against humanists, just like
"The Wall." The agony of men who know they will
die (they are to be shot the next day). An amazing excursion into this
mindframe, with an oddly rote ironical ending.
"The Childhood of a
Leader." How a boy grows disenchanted and turns to anti-semitism,
believing he can find the reason for existence in power. Hard to read, the same way Marquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold is.
"The Room." An insane man, and his wife who wants to live as he does, see what he sees. ...Er, didn't quite get this one.