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The Mandarins
Simone de Beauvoir
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The Mandarins (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  2,955 Ratings  ·  202 Reviews
In her most famous novel, Simone de Beauvoir does not flinch in her look at Parisian intellectual society at the end of World War II. Drawing on those surrounding her -- Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Arthur Koestler -- and her passionate love affair with Nelson Algren, Beauvoir dissects the emotional and philosophical currents of her time. At once an engrossing drama and ...more
Paperback, 570 pages
Published January 1956 by eagle books (first published October 21st 1954)
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A lot of people appear to dislike Les Mandarins, which I think is a pretty excellent novel, so let me try and explain what I think is good about it. To me, it's basically about what happens to people (particularly to women) when they realize that they are no longer young. This has several consequences. To start off with, not being young means that you're no longer as physically attractive as you were. Of course, you can go into denial, and say that as long as you eat healthily, exercise, and thi ...more
Jan 23, 2009 Squidy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned that Simone de Beauvoir was one smart cookie. I learned about existentialism for the first time and absuridty and the French resistance and Paris bars. I took this book to Paris and read it there. I went to the bars and cafes and read it there. I was on a late and horrible honeymoon and still have the book but the husband.....non
It’s a horrible thing, a woman who labors to lead a man’s hands to her body by appealing to his mind.
The irony of the author of The Second Sex having published this five years after the previous kills me, it really does. What's worse is her having won the Prix Goncourt for it, a weighty stamp of approved literature prowess that says nothing less than, yes, this is how you discuss philosophical theories in the midst of love and warfare: trot the men out trigger happy and reduce the women to sel
Lada Fleur
Aug 29, 2014 Lada Fleur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un roman interessant. Une intellectuelle parlant librement de sa vie, a savoir de sa vie amoureuse, avec son mari, la relation avec sa fille, son escapade aux Etats-Unis, une derniere flingue ou il s'agit de vivre et de battre son plein avec une possibilite amoureuse. Une femme, c'est une femme. Parisienne et intellectuelle. Elle va jusqu-au bout Sans regret. Le roman recommande. Faut se connaitre, et en jouir. Un roman qui m-a appris a lire en francais
Dec 21, 2015 Camille rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pour l'anglais "mind-blowing", une amie avait proposé la traduction "qui souffle la tête". Simone de Beauvoir m'a soufflé la tête.

Les Mandarins, roman somme, roman phare, décrit le cercle des intellectuels de gauche parisiens dans la tourmente de la période post seconde guerre mondiale, à travers deux narrations alternées : une narration omnisciente qui suit tour à tour le parcours et les pensées de certains personnages, et une narration à la première personne, depuis le personnage d'Anne, psyc
Nov 29, 2009 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I might be alone in really loving this book. I'm not sure if I understand what is not to love. This book is a bright light in a period of self-important post-war literature-- our 1984s and Wastelands-- in that it carefully avoids the moral preachiness and overabundant heavy-handed symbolism by which the supposed major works of this period are so weighed down.

The Mandarins is a treatise on life in suspended animation: when the war ends how does life continue? One way to look at it is the book is
Diamond Cowboy
Jan 08, 2016 Diamond Cowboy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was absolutely amazing. It was written by one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century. The author was a great philosopher and phemonist of her era. I suggest all read this book and any others you can find by her.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.
G.R. Reader
May 08, 2014 G.R. Reader rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now that's how to write a lightly fictionalized kiss 'n' tell memoir.
Mar 07, 2007 Kalilah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favoratefiction
The story meanders across the last half of a lifetime and is at times absolutely brilliant. The second chapter in and of itself is a masterpiece. I frequently read this portion on it's owns a random times in the year and it is able to bringing me to tears almost everytime.
Jan 11, 2014 Nihan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
Mandarinler, İkinci Dünya Savaşı sonrası Paris'te yaşamakta olan bir grup entelektüel yazarın hayatlarıyla ve birbirleriyle olan ilişkilerini, mücadelelerini konu alıyor. Ve bu yazarlar Simone'nin hayatındaki insanların ta kendisi. Henri karakteri yazar Albert Camus'u, Anne karakteri Simone'nin kendisini, Anne'in kocası Robert ise tabi ki de Jean Paul Sartre'ı canlandırıyor. Olaylar Henri ve Anne'in ağzından aktarılmış. Bu sebeple Simone'nin yaşadıkları dolayısıyla neler hissettiğini çok iyi bir ...more
Apr 01, 2008 Bryant rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book reads like a French version of an Ayn Rand novel (and this is not compliment). "The Mandarins" is full of flat characters whose voices are scarcely distinguishable, awkward dialogue, insipidly clunky internal monologue, and a surprising lack of atmosphere (how can de Beauvoir make Paris so boring?). The book has pretensions to being philosophical and rich, but it is unfortunately dated and vapid. If this novel represents French intellectual life immediately following WWII, then its mos ...more
My reactions to Simone's massive novel about life with J.P. Sartre, Albert Camus, and Nelson Algren are violently mixed. It's fascinating to read about an era where prize-winning novelists were resistance fighters and political organizers, and though they're continually bemoaning their powerlessness, I'm amazed by how much what they do and say matters in their vanished world. On the other hand, it's discouraging the way Simone turns Sartre into a plaster saint, and Camus into a heroic godlike cr ...more
The Mandarins, sadly, is the only thing I have read by Simone de Beauvoir. And it is great. A fictional account of her relationship with Sartre and the friendship between Sartre and Camus, The Mandarins is a novel that deeply explores interpersonal relationships and gives the reader insight into what may have been between these three famous French intellectuals. The extent to which what Beauvoir writes is historically accurate, I am not sure. However, I think one of the valuable things about thi ...more
Anna Maria Ballester Bohn
Aug 25, 2015 Anna Maria Ballester Bohn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
Yes, it's not big literature, it might not even be good literature, but it's close to my heart, I've read it in various key moments of my life and it has always given me something I needed. What author nowadays would dare to reflect so openly and unashamedly about what it means to be an intellectual? No one wants to be an intellectual nowadays, which is a pity, and stupid because what are we? For me, this is a powerful exploration of what is important in life, and no, it never gets old to think ...more
May 26, 2010 Mara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
for all of my bitching and moaning, this was one of those books that answered on one of those Rilkean crying out nights, and it did such a lovely job of telling at least three different stories, and yes, six hundred pages was sometimes a slog, and yes existentialism sometimes makes me reach for a sweater, but I still loved this book and it will be living in my head for a long time.
Feb 26, 2013 Hala rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
رواية رائعة بكل المقاييس و كعادة سيمون لغة بسيطة و معاني و تحليلات عميقة تتناول حياة الطبقة المثقفة بعد الحرب في فرنسا و تنتاول شخصيات جان بول سارتر و البير كامو محبي الفلسفة الوجودية سيفتتنوا بهذه الرواية ..

Nov 28, 2013 Fernanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kurt Kemmerer
Sep 15, 2015 Kurt Kemmerer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A harrowing classic that deftly covers the onion-like layers of individual decision making and the multitude of actions and inactions that decision making process affects over a short period of time, especially in the wake of a great trauma. In this case, the trauma is WW II, and most of the characters fought for the French resistance. In the aftermath of the war, the change from necessary, immediate action to assessing each act for every possible outcome becomes daunting. Exploring the affect o ...more
Mar 02, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-read
I totally enjoyed this book. Like some other reviewers here, I found the first few pages to be challenging to go through: so many characters are introduced and the narrative seems sparse. By the second/third chapters though, I was captured by the book and could barely put it aside.
I don't think I have so far come across any better illustration of the classical idea of "intellectual" in the pure French tradition, that which was started with Zola's public stance during the Dreyfus Affair. de Beauv
Daniel Morrison
Oct 18, 2009 Daniel Morrison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book looks at the lives of left bank french intellectuals immediately after the liberation of Paris in 1944,
famous for including thinly veiled versions of the author, Albert Camus and Jean Paul Satre along with other members of their social circle. The large cast of characters is a little bewildering at first but it's to de Beauvoir's credit that all of them are developed well enough that none of them seem two dimensional or forgotten about. That said I preferred she came to stay generally b
Julie Iskander
Jun 30, 2014 Julie Iskander rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed every page, reading it to me was an enriching journey. The post-war intellectuals struggle to survive and make a difference, was enlightening. I couldn't avoid comparing that to the state of the Egyptian resistance and the euphoria we lived in February 2011 and all the helplessness we fell in afterwards. I know a lot of differences lie in between. However the slight similarities touched my heart.
Oct 13, 2013 Francesca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un affascinante spaccato sulla situazione degli intellettuali francesi nel secondo dopoguerra.
Conta solo l'azione politica o anche la letteratura ha ancora un senso dopo gli orrori della guerra?
Come può comportarsi l'intellettuale schiacciato nella dicotomia America-URSS di quegli anni?
Come ricominciare la propria vita dopo la guerra senza tradire con l'oblio i morti?
Leggetelo e scoprirete cosa ne pensa la meravigliosa autrice di questo libro.
Feb 07, 2014 Jordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really excellent novel from a literary and philosophical standpoints from an author who I didn't even know wrote fiction until relatively recently; I really only knew her political and philosophical writing. The characters are human and dynamic and she has a knack for dialogue. One of the better books I've read in the past year. The larger ideas at work (like the relationship between literature/art and politics) are as relevant as ever.
Okla Elliott
Jul 16, 2012 Okla Elliott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is hands-down one of the best novels to come out of France in the twentieth century. It also serves as an excellent historical document for life in immediate post-war French society. Should be required reading for all serious readers, especially those with interest in twentieth-century feminism, existentialism, and the aftermath of WWII.
Jan 28, 2016 Marvin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Questionnements des intellectuels de gauche dans la France de l'après-guerre. Compte tenu de l'engagement de l'auteure avec les communistes, j'ai trouvé son récit sincère et ouvert aux autres idées politiques.
May 10, 2015 Farzaneh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

جالب بود چه به لحاظ شنخات کمونیسم و چه به لحاظ شناخت انسانها و تفکرات انسانی علی الخصوص زنان ، اینکه وقایع همسان یکبار از نگاه یک زن و یکبار از نگاه یک مرد روایت شده بود جز نقاط قوت کتاب بود و کمک زیادی به شناخت تفاوت های این دو جنس می کرد.
The existentialism of de Beauvoir, does not suppose free will, for none of the characters in the story got what they wanted; they ended up being contented with whatever they received eventually. This is evident especially in the last paragraph of the last chapter of the book, in which Anne decides to commit suicide, and then changes her mind to not commit suicide as her daughter calls out to her. Even death can not be of free will.
"Since my heart continues to beat, it will have to beat for somet
Jun 29, 2012 Erika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an amazing achievement. Ambitious, intelligent, engaging. It's the first of her fiction that I've read, and I was delighted to find that Simone de Beauvoir's characters were so varied and three-dimensional. But they are not just well-drawn fictional characters; they are interesting people, the intellectuals of post-war France. A couple of well-known (fictional) writers who were heavily engaged in the resistance during war years, continue to grapple with rebuilding a free France in t ...more
Jun 25, 2013 Carla rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Repetitivo, redundante, lento, tedioso, en una palabra: ¡Aburrido! Me gusta cómo Beauvoir refleja la desesperanza de los parisinos de izquierda y el planteamiento de ciertas ideas luego de terminada la Segunda Guerra, pero no me mantuvo interesada. Lo rescatable: el personaje de Ana y los capítulos escritos desde su punto de vista.
Bernie Whelan
After finishing this novel I really miss the characters,living in Paris after the war among the intellectuals, hanging out in the jazz bars with them, discussing the political dilemmas of the day and travelling round America with de Beauvoir's alter ego to fall in and out of love. It's much easier to encounter existential philosophers this way.
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  • Simone de Beauvoir: A Biography
  • Alberta and Jacob
  • Thérèse Desqueyroux
  • The Vagabond
  • Mademoiselle de Maupin
  • Les caves du Vatican
  • Tête-à-Tête: The Tumultuous Lives and Loves of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Iron in the Soul
  • The Chateau
  • The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne
  • The Three Sisters
  • The Tree Of Man
  • A Day in Spring
  • Thaïs
  • Under Satan's Sun
  • Moderato cantabile
  • Last Nights of Paris
  • A Dangerous Liaison
"Simone de Beauvoir was a French author and philosopher. She wrote novels, monographs on philosophy, politics, and social issues, essays, biographies, and an autobiography. She is now best known for her metaphysical novels, including She Came to Stay and The Mandarins, and for her 1949 treatise The Second Sex, a detailed analysis of women's oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary femin ...more
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“She was ready to deny the existence of space and time rather than admit that love might not be eternal.” 2163 likes
“She would never change, but one day at the touch of a fingertip she would fall to dust.” 157 likes
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