Tag Archives: Jean Paul Sartre

Great first lines of books

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. “- One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“May I, Monsieur, offer my services without running the risk of intruding?”- The Fall, Albert Camus
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.- “A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”- The Go-Between, L.P. Hartley
“The best thing would be to write down everything that happens from day to day. “- Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre
“Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear.” – The Plot Against America, Philip Roth
“If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me, thought Moses Herzog.” – Herzog, Saul Bellow
“I am a sick man… I am an angry man.”- Notes from the Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“I was the shadow of the waxwing slain//By the false azure in the windowpane” – Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov

“The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.”– A Bend in the River, V.S. Naipaul

“Every account of the origins of the state starts from the premise that “we” – not we the readers but some generic we so wide as to exclude no one – participate in its coming into being.”– Diary of a Bad Year, J.M. Coetzee

“A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.”- The End of the Affair, Graham Greene
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” – 1984, George Orwell
“The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.”- Murphy, Samuel Beckett
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”– Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

“Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.”– The Trial, Franz Kafka

“This is a true story, but I can’t believe it’s really happening.”– London Fields, Martin Amis



I love the way the Autodidact tells the protagonist in Sartre that he wants an adventure but the protagonist knows its futile.

On Nausea

I am depressed and disappointed…its been ages since I’ve had even a word with him…and in these circumstances…

I don’t know…it doesn’t feel good inside, the kind of feeling you have when the dread of a character in a novel or event mirrors your own.

I love reading on how the objects in Sartre’s Nausea affected the protagonist. It is a gorgeous book which comes alive, every moment and event. Though if I knew the protagonist in real life I figure I would have hated the guy, I hate dwelling on emotics, but tolerate their ranting and even gently fall in love with their dark lenses in novels. What an irony.

I stayed in the office late last night to play scrabble with myself. Learnt lots of cosy words~~ and was pretty proud when I formed ‘Scaliest’…yay for an extra 50 point on a double word score! But there was something comforting in the quiet evening and the solace of a board with pieces… in a way it reminds me of something CT says about having a time of solace for your own…and if he doesn’t have that allowance for the week, he would be morose and irritable.

I jumped from Sartre for the moment to move to Kundera’s Laughable Loves. Already at the start of the book, I had a ‘laughable’ episode when I tried to originally buy the book from ebay…and wrote to a Singaporean seller asking for combined shipping:

“The Kundera books were supposed to be bait for ppl. I’m not willing to let them go for cheaper. However I can throw in 1 more book for free. Alternatively I’ve been single for too long and if you were to go on a date with me you can have them for $6 (regardless of the outcome.”

S and I agree that our favourite part is the ‘regardless of outcome’ part. *rofl Maybe its the choice of the book, S says, who can you trust who actually owns a whole bunch of Kundera books? But I never thought of Kundera as explicit the way Beansprouts does, I was so enraptured with my first Kundera book…and have fond memories reading Kundera’s Life is Elsewhere in a quaint little old bookstore in Prague besides J in his chess game. Sometimes I think back, and it is one of my favourite book memories. It is also one of the best books I have read in capturing the emotional complexity in the bond between mother and child, and of revolutionary tendencies. Indeed worth reading, especially if you are a Victor Hugo fan like me, it sort of deconstructs Victor Hugo’s political theorizing in a sense.

After receiving the utterly weird ebay message (which I am adamant not to reply as he sounds creepy, but I wouldn’t have replied even if he didn’t), it reminded me of D (yes Beansprouts, Its DSeal). I knew DSeal first, ironically through ebay…have I ever mentioned? I had bought a whole load of law books off him, shortly before I had entered university, when I was in my ‘lets read every single law text before I start university’ phase. When I went to collect them…(a pile of jurisprudence, criminal and others all up to my head) he carried the books with me to the first floor…and even ran to fetch a taxi for me when he saw one…and slipped the taxi driver a fee (which was more than the price of the books)…

Yes thats how we got acquainted. We later talked coffee, Pico Iyer, politics, travel, movies… shared a love for japanese, I learnt about Kazu, sang the beginning part of Monk’s entry song in empty carparks, got lost driving in opposition party’s estates, tried fifteen types of tea…wagyu burgers and meringue desserts…

DSeal is now in New York, after his masters, but sometimes I remember him, in the midst of reading a part of Pico Iyer, or in the middle of a honey dew sorbet- Him writing effusively every detail of his foody experience, him talking about wine in the Margaret River vineyards which he visits every year, him singing alone to a particular greek soft-note piece of Dream Theatre or watching Closer/Zoolander 13 times and memorizing the words…him bringing back 15kg of stones from US because he insisted that is the way to prepare the best steak…having LSD with cornflakes…

I was a child then, but then again, I don’t know how much I have changed.