Writing and editing
Sartre originally titled the novel Melancholia. Simone de Beauvoir referred to it as his "factum on contingency." He composed it from 1932 to 1936. He had begun it during his military service and continued writing at Le Havre and in Berlin.
Ethan Kleinberg reports:
Sartre went to study in Berlin for the academic year 1933. While in Berlin, Sartre did not take any university courses or work with Husserl or Heidegger. Sartre's time seems to have been spent reading Husserl and working on the second draft of Nausea.
Drake confirms this account.
The manuscript was subsequently typed. It was at first refused by the Nouvelle Revue Française (N.R.F.), despite a strong recommendation from their reviewer, Jean Paulhan. In 1937, however, the imprint's publisher, Gaston Gallimard accepted it and suggested the title La Nausée.
Brice Parain, the editor, asked for numerous cuts of material that was either too populist or else too sexual to avoid an action for indecency. Sartre deleted the populist material, which was not natural to him, with few complaints, because he wanted to be published by the prestigious N.R.F., which had a strong, if vague, house style. However, he stood fast on the sexual material which he felt was an artistically necessary hallucinatory ingredient.
Michel Contat has examined the original typescript and feels that, "if ever Melancholia is published as its author had originally intended it, the novel will no doubt emerge as a work which is more composite, more baroque and perhaps more original than the version actually published."
The American publisher New Directions first issued Lloyd Alexander's translation in 1949 as part of its New Classics library; a New Directions paperback edition was introduced in 1959.