The Age of Reason (novel)

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Not to be confused with “The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology” by Thomas Paine.
The Age of Reason
L'âge de raison.jpg
Cover of the first edition
Author Jean-Paul Sartre
Original title L'âge de raison
Translator Eric Sutton
Country France
Language French
Series The Roads to Freedom
Genre Novel
Publisher Gallimard, Knopf, Vintage
Publication date
Published in English
Pages 416
ISBN 0-679-73895-9
OCLC 25048232
843/.914 20
LC Class PQ2637.A82 A713 1992
Followed by The Reprieve

The Age of Reason[1] (French: L'âge de raison) is a 1945 novel by Jean-Paul Sartre. It is the first part of the trilogy The Roads to Freedom. The novel, set in the bohemian Paris of the late 1930s, focuses on three days in the life of a philosophy teacher named Mathieu who is seeking money to pay for an abortion for his mistress, Marcelle. Sartre analyses the motives of various characters and their actions and takes into account the perceptions of others to give the reader a comprehensive picture of the main character.

The Age of Reason is concerned with Sartre's conception of freedom as the ultimate aim of human existence. This work seeks to illustrate the existentialist notion of ultimate freedom through presenting a detailed account of the characters' psychologies as they are forced to make significant decisions in their lives. As the novel progresses, character narratives espouse Sartre's view of what it means to be free and how one operates within the framework of society with this philosophy. This novel is a fictional reprise of some of the main themes in his major philosophical study Being and Nothingness. One of the notions is that ultimately a person's freedom is unassailable as it is fundamentally part of the nothingness that is the imagination and so cannot be taken away or destroyed.


  1. ^ Sartre, Jean-Paul. 1947. “The age of reason; a novel” (Translated to English by Eric Sutton) Vintage Books. New York. 397 pages. ISBN 0-394-71838-0 (paperback).