The Pain Coach

Nausea and pain

The Pain Coach

Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

Nausea and pain

‘But what you never knew was that I was sitting on some nettles: my dress was hitched up, my thighs were covered with stings, and every time I made the slightest movement I was stung again. Well, stoicism wouldn’t have been enough there. You didn’t excite me at all, I had no particular desire for your lips, the kiss I was going to give you was much more important, it was an engagement, a pact. So you see, that pain was irrelevant, I wasn’t at liberty to think about my thighs at the moment like that. It wasn’t enough not to show that I was suffering: it was necessary not to suffer.’

She looks at me proudly, still surprised at what she had done:

‘For more than twenty minutes, all the time you were insisting on having that kiss which I was quite determined to give you, all the time I was keeping you waiting — because I had to give it to you with proper formality — I managed to anaesthetize myself completely. Yet heaven knows that I have a sensitive skin: I feltĀ nothingĀ until we got up.’

Anny to Antoine, in Kew Gardens, from Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

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