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Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  30 ratings  ·  11 reviews
National Book Award-winning biographer Deirdre Bair explores her fifteen remarkable years in Paris with Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir, painting intimate new portraits of two literary giants and revealing secrets of the biographical art.

In 1971 Deirdre Bair was a journalist and recently minted Ph.D. who managed to secure access to Nobel Prize-winning author Samuel
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published November 12th 2019 by Nan A. Talese
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Niklas Pivic
Earlier this year, Michael Peppiatt’s The Existential Englishman: Paris Among the Artists was published; the book displays namedropping and some Parisian familières, and ended up as quite the end note of what can be written about celebrities, and Paris. It is the kind of book that most people will forget about when asked of their favourite autobiographies, six months after having read it.

Enter Deirdre Bair.

I did not know of her before reading this book; I’d not even read her biography on
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me: A Memoir" is a beautifully written book that pulls you in slowly but deeply. It isn't just about writing about two famous authors but the memoir writer's life as well and what it takes to be a biographer. I would recommend this book to fans of Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, as well as biographies in general.

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased
Nov 03, 2019 added it
Shelves: dnf
Dnf ~ p. 75 or 78.
Marvin Fender
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, memoir
I received this book from the Goodreads Giveaway program. The stories told in this biography/memoir/creative process compilation is very unusual and entertaining. I really like good biographies and memoirs that are told well and have enlightening information and this book delivers. Ms Bair has a very wonderful way of keeping a vast amount of history and personal information flowing and compelling you to read further. You also find empathy for her and her subjects caught in a candid look at a ...more
Paul Myers
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deirdre Bair's memoir is the interrelated stories of writing biographies of Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir and Bair's own journey of discovery while launching her academic career, a process often in conflict with her success writing biographies that became blockbuster successes. It is a fascinating tale of how to research and write biography while observing that the process of researching and writing about great writers itself brings stunning growth and insight to the author. The reader ...more
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: good-reads
This was a Goodreads giveaway that, quite frankly, I entered because of Parisian and Simone de Beauvoir being in the title. After finishing it, I'm embarrassed I knew so little beforehand about Samuel Beckett, nor claimed his name as being the biggest reason for my entering.
Still, truth be told, the second half of the book which focused almost solely on De Beauvoir held me captivated until the very last page in a way the Beckett section did not.
The Beckett section, while mostly interesting,
Paul Wilner
Nov 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Engaging account of the author's successful bearding of two literary giants, with autobiographical diversions into the pettiness and sexism of literary and academic politics. I came away with the feeling that she may have respected Beckett more as an artist but connected with de Beauvoir, for all her difficulties, more as a person.

That said, it was a bit disappointing not to see more material on each of their actual work, which is mentioned in passing, in Beckett's case, and focused primarily
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How does an author go about writing a biography of a well known subject, while refraining from judgement, creating controversy, maintaining a good working relationship with the subject and the people around them? In this "bio-memoir Deirdre Bair relates her experiences, struggles and reactions while first compiling the biography of Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir.
It was a revelation for me to see how much time, money, effort and negotiating goes into the research for a biography. This is a
Nov 02, 2019 added it
Shelves: dnf
---Full disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ---

Interesting idea, but sadly it didn't do anything for me. I just couldn't get interested in her experience as it was described. While reading I thought if it had been stripped down more & turned into a couple of magazine articles I'd have enjoyed it more. Before dnf'ing I skipped toward the back to see if maybe reading about her other subject would be any more interesting, but no. Although I'm let down this didn't work

Nov 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I have, but it was interesting to learn how Bair's unconventional approach to biography writing, brought her fame (and infamy) after years of painstaking research into Beckett's life and how that acclaim led her to write a biography about de Beauvoir as well.
Dec 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
DNF. Read 100 pages, skimmed rest.
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DEIRDRE BAIR received the National Book Award for Samuel Beckett: A Biography. Her biographies of Simone de Beauvoir and Carl Jung were finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Simone de Beauvoir biography was chosen by The New York Times as a Best Book of the Year. Her biographies of Anaïs Nin and Saul Steinberg were both New York Times Notable Books. Her most recent book is Al ...more