The Age of Reason (Penguin Modern Classics)

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The Age of Reason (Penguin Modern Classics)

The Age of Reason (Penguin Modern Classics)

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It’s at this point he makes a bizarre, seemingly deadly mistake during a taxi ride to the latest museum exhibition. Towards the end of the story, Mathieu sneaks back into Lola’s apartment with the key Boris gave him and this time does steal 4,000 of her Francs. While he ponders these ‘moral’ quandaries Mathieu hangs out with Ivich, kid sister of Boris Serguine, one of his pupils. She’s an extremely pretty young lady, but one plagued with all manner of strange anxieties and psychological issues.

The absolute determination of all the characters to be as miserable as possible eventually becomes quite funny. Misanthropic, narcissistic, and aloof, his actions are seemingly based on a desire to disrupt peoples’ lives.Alternatively, the young student Bruno – who hates being described as Mathieu’s ‘disciple’ – has his own, rather immature definition of freedom. The Age of Reason is the first of the trilogy, a third-person narrative set in Paris in 1938 which focuses on two days in the life of Mathieu Delarue (French for ‘of the street’). He is forlorn because he is devoid of God and thus only himself responsible for his actions (as well as inactions, inaction also being an action).

In a panic, believing she may throw herself into the Seine or some such behaviour, he begins a wild taxi ride across Paris in an attempt to find her. What has really endured of this book is the relentlessness of everyone’s misery and of their super disgust at being human, at having bodies, at ageing, at living. It's one of the most effective passages I know on the subject of why it generally isn't a good idea to want to kill yourself. There was in that face an intriguing, almost volutptuous humility that evoked a mean desire to hurt her, to crush her with shame. He had seen enough of such people at the Sorbonne, pretentious young wiseacres, bleak, bespectacled products of the Ecole Normale, who always had a personal theory in reserve, and invariably ended by making fools of themselves somehow.Despite “tumult” and “public opinion” arriving due to the gruesome situation, the pair is led off by a kindly cloakroom lady who disinfects their wounds and applies bandages.

A long filament hung from her lips, she had to cough it away… She watched the dabs of mucus sliding slowly towards the drainpipe leaving glossy, viscous tracks behind them, like snails.

As always, my reviews comprise about 5,000 words and merely scratch at the surface of a full-scale novel like the Age of Reason. He could do what he liked, no one had the right to advise him, there would be for him no Good or Evil unless he brought them into being. Next morning Mathieu meets Ivich at the Dome cafe and they start drinking to get rid of their hangovers, when Boris appears completely dazed. In the philosophy class there had been a good deal of lively interest in Communism, and Mathieu had evaded the issue by explaining what freedom was.

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