One of the tests of whether a book might be for you or not is to open it up a few chapters in and read a page. It could be a page at random, or it could be page 60 which is the page I know Simon T always chooses, and since he told me this, I’ve found myself gravitating towards that particular page too when browsing.
Sorting out a pile of my late Mum’s books this afternoon I came across an old Penguin copy of The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre (trans Eric Sutton). Most of the page was perfectly readable and I think I could get on with the book, but this little section was mighty perplexing.
To set the scene, Ivich, a female student is discussing her exams with Mathieu…
‘Anyway, I know what you’re thinking.’
‘Then why ask? You don’t need to be very clever to guess: I was thinking of the examination.’
‘You’re afraid of being ploughed, is that it?’
‘Of course I’m afraid of being ploughed. Or rather – no, I’m not afraid, I know I’m ploughed.’
Mathieu again sensed the savour of catastrophe in his mouth: ‘If she is ploughed, I shan’t see her again.’ She would certainly be ploughed: that was plain enough.
‘I won’t go back to Laon,’ said Ivich desperately. ‘If I go back to Laon after having been ploughed, I’ll never get away again. They told me it was my last chance.’
So, reading this page 60 on it’s own, would you think that being ploughed is failing one’s exams, or a euphenism for something else!
* * * * *
To see for yourself at Amazon UK, click below:
The Age of Reason (Penguin Modern Classics)