What does Sartre mean by "existence precedes essence"? How does this doctrine figure into Roquentin's Nausea?
What relation does Sartre make between time and free will? How does Roquentin's research on the Marquis de Rollebon lead him to reject the past in favor of the present?
What does Sartre mean by the "contingency of human existence." To what extent is contingency a major existentialist proof against rational humanism?
Why does the idea of sex and sexuality disgust Roquentin so much? To what degree is he a misogynist? How do his relations with women influence his Nausea?
What role do books play in the novel? Why does Roquentin only read selections of books than from beginning to end? Why does he mock the Self-Taught Man's attempt to read every book in the Bouville Library?
Can the Marquis de Rollebon be considered a character in the novel? Why or why not? Is he an extension of Roquentin's mind?
Discuss Sartre's opposition to humanism. What aspects of the Self-Taught Man's behavior represent a critique of rational philosophy? How do humanism and existentialism view the individual vs. the crowd?
How does Sartre rely on paradoxes to illustrate his point? If "nothingness" is what lies behind existence, how can "nothingness" be considered a form of existence? What does this have to do with the "absurdity" of existence?
Why does Roquentin fear the "bare existence" he sees? Does it remind him of his freedom and responsibility? Why does Roquentin's own existence disgust him so much?
How does Roquentin's loneliness influence his perception of the outside world? Does it allow him to feel free? Would he have experienced the Nausea if he were married?
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!