Sartre’s Roads to Freedom trilogy ends here, in an epic novel which advances the story of Mathieu Delarue on his quest for personal freedom. The Age of Reason and the Reprieve, over 600 pages, develop his character considerably, from a bumbling university professor to a man on the brink of war, before, finally, being thrown into battle for Iron in the Soul (also known as Troubled Sleep – for this review, I’ll stick with its original translation).
Sartre’s Roads to Freedom trilogy took a dynamic shift in tone following on from the Age of Reason. Inspired by the likes of Virginia Woolf, the French philosopher decided to try his hand at simultaneous prose. The result is the Reprieve, which is a chilling psychological examination of a nation prior to outright warfare.
With its existential themes and mission to examine and expose the nature of personal autonomy, Sartre’s epic Roads to Freedom trilogy was completed in a mighty flurry of activity, with the Age of Reason published in September 1945 shortly after the Nazi occupation of France and World War II ended.
It was joined immediately by the Reprieve, the writing style of which uses simultaneity as events unfold at the same time, with Sartre considering numerous characters at once as they jostle for position on page.