The Mandarins (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) Paperback – 3 May 2005
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‘A remarkable novel.’ Iris Murdoch, Sunday Times
‘A dazzling panorama of the giants of the Left Bank.’ New Statesman
‘The characters, especially the women, are uninhibited and sometimes predatory. The dialogues are salty, frank and realistic. The characters’ amorous adventures are set down with microscopic exactitude.’ Guardian
‘There are few, a very few, novels from which one comes away with the feeling of having travelled, experienced, learned… such a book is The Mandarins.’ Bookman
From the Back Cover
In wartime Paris, a group of friends gather to celebrate the end of the German occupation and to plan their future. Henri, ex-Resistance fighter, is eager to resume his wife, to travel and to write a novel; Paula is convinced that she can revive her dying affair with Henri. Robert, a writer, is determined to enter politics whilst his psychiatrist wife, Anne, is deeply distracted by an affair with a young American; their daughter, Nadine feels only bitterness and disillusionment after the killing of her lover by the Germans.
Winner of the Prix Goncourt, 'The Mandarins' captures the dizzying sense of promise felt throughout France after liberation. Herself a central figure in the cultural life of the Left Bank, de Beauvoir punctuates the novel with wickedly accurate portraits of the intellectual giants of the time, including Sartre and Camus.
“A remarkable book, a novel on the grand scale, courageous in its exactitude and endearing because of its persistent seriousness.”
IRIS MURDOCH, 'Sunday Times'
“Simone de Beauvoir has given us a magnificent map of the mental terrain of French intellectualism. 'The Mandarins' is a window on the world through which we see and recognise not just the facts of a situation but the truth about it. Moving and engrossing.”
NEW YORK TIMES
“An extremely important novel, 'The Mandarins' gives us a brilliant survey of the post-war French intellectual. Its sweep, its variety, its accuracy and its objectivity combine to present a dazzling panorama.”
“In 'The Mandarins' the characters, especially the women, are uninhibited and sometimes predatory, the dialogues salty, frank and realistic. Their amorous adventures are set down with microscopic exactitude.”
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Top Customer Reviews
Alongside the party politics and in-depth debates, this also explores issues of gender politics: the dreadful malaise which blankets Henri's relationship with Paula; his unsatisfactory affairs with other women; Anne's search for identity as a middle-aged woman past her prime; and the aggressive, volatile and yet vulnerable Nadine who can't forget her first love who died in a Nazi concentration camp.
De Beauvoir's prose is so crisp and clean that it translates easily into English. I was mainly reading this in French (Les Mandarins 1), using this English edition as a filler read on the tube and noticed very few blips in the translation: guérir is given as `to cure' a few times which jars in the context of a character's pathological need for love, and might have been better rendered as `to heal' but this is a minor quibble.
This is a huge book, and a deeply intelligent one - but amongst all the political squabbling, the backstabbing and the more fatal consequences of Nazi collaboration, this also gives an effortless feel for 1940s Paris: the cafés, the champagne, the dancing in darkened cellars. I love this book and wanted to slip between the covers and live inside it -highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
so philosophical i will start it again when i have finished it. gives the reader lots to think about!Published 10 months ago by nib
I expected to like this book. I'm interested in Sartre, Camus and that whole Parisian society thing, and Simone de Beauvoir is undoubtedly a good writer, but I found this book... Read morePublished on 30 Jan. 2010 by Phil O'Sofa
A superb account of lives lived to the full. It makes most modern novels and novelists look half-witted and inane - Martin Amis, and all the other contemporary soon-to-be-forgotten... Read morePublished on 26 Mar. 2008 by William Podmore