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Antoine Roquentin, a thirty-five-year-old bachelor lives alone in Bouville, an imaginary town that recalls Havre. He is
working on a book about the life of the late Marquis of Rollebon, an aristocrat of the late eighteenth century, and
living off his income, after leaving a job in Indochina, the fatigue of travel and what he believes to be the adventure.
This awareness marks one of Sartre's first important thoughts in the book. Roquentin is no longer compatible with the
bourgeoisie or Mr. Bouville Rollebon who quickly seems boring and uninteresting, since history is about what has
existed, and never an existing one can justify the existence of another Existing. It was then, in one of the most
philosophical passages of the book, that he relates how dizzying he is conscious.
A key point in the book comes on pages 236-238. Here it describes the "Self-Made Man" in this translation who is
called l'Autodidacte in the French when he is caught fondeling a little boy under the library desk. The library staff
has been suspecting this and has been watching him and when they finally catch him in the act, he is beaten and expelled
from the library.
It is not clear exactly what happened here, whether he touched the penis of the little boy or had the boy touch him.
Perhaps the reason this is left unclear is otherwise it might have violated the French laws against pornography.
Jean-Paul Sartre was known always to have a woman with him. Nobody would ever accuse him of homosexuality.
Another key point revealed near the end is why the protagonist is able to write a biography of Marquis de Rollebon, an
obscure politician, whose nephew was assassinated by the Czar's police in 1810, his papers confiscated. The protagonist
here explaines he has stolen the papers from the state library to be used in writing this book. Now, in page 140, he
abandones this project and has to decide what to do with the stolen papers. Naturally, he should return them to the
library but the answer to this question is not revealed.