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De Mandarijnen

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  3,784 ratings  ·  266 reviews
Een groep Parijse intellectuelen kampt na de Tweede Wereldoorlog met politieke en persoonlijke problemen.
732 pages
Published (first published October 21st 1954)
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4.13  · 
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 ·  3,784 ratings  ·  266 reviews

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Jan 23, 2009 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
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
There is more than one way to peel the Mandarins, this is my second attempt.

The Mandarins were a scholarly elite in Imperial China, word of them was brought, if I remember correctly by the Jesuits to France during the reign of Louis XIV (or maybe the XVth, then abouts anyhow) and it was a notion that seemed to have taken possession of the minds of the French Philosophes by the Enlightenment - one can see the attraction to literary men (and the occasional literary women) of wise, or at least witt
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
Steven Godin
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I believe this to be her best work. It's long, probably too long, but that's a small niggle compared to all that's so good about it. 'The Mandarins' gives us a brilliant survey of the post-war French intellectual. It's accuracy and its objectivity combine to present a dazzling panorama of the men and women caught up in ever-changing times. As a fan of the existentialist movement this was no-brainer for me to read, it's an expression of her unique style, represented with such vibrancy, that diffe ...more
Nov 29, 2009 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
Steven Walle
Jan 08, 2016 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now that's how to write a lightly fictionalized kiss 'n' tell memoir.
Apr 01, 2008 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
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
Mar 07, 2007 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.
Richard Harvey
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Magnificent! A novel that makes friends with you. De Beauvoir writes in a sense imperfectly, rather like real life. The novel lurches between turgid passages (particularly the anachronistic political discussions and the endless agonizing about the periodicals) and literary flight (in particular the last few passages). Sometimes confusing , at other times clear as crystal The Mandarins is justifiable considered her greatest fictional work.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

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
Erika Westman
Jun 29, 2012 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
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, classics
It's hard to separate what I think about this novel from how fascinating I find her as a person and a thinker.

Roman Clodia
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Volume 1:

This is the first volume of de Beauvoir's huge and compelling depiction of the left-wing French intelligentsia in the last years of the second world war. Opening at Christmas 1944, the first Christmas after the liberation, this follows our main characters through the last year of the war and into the aftermath as they struggle to deal with the fall-out of the Occupation, the reckoning of collaboration, and the uneasy negotiations between the socialist left and the communist party.

Mar 02, 2014 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
Anna Maria Ballester Bohn
Aug 25, 2015 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
Julie Iskander
Jun 30, 2014 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.
May 26, 2010 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.
"The quote that most struck me, speaking Anne about his love for Lewis, is "love is always undeserved." A concept that I made mine, time ago, and that finding in a so important book surprised me."
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
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This definitely has an old fashioned style. Once you start going with the flow, it is, indeed a good and historic read. It's obvious, who's who in the Parisian literati after the war. However, I never really understood the intellectual war which was going on between the intelligencia who were battling out the future of France and the politics of the Resistance, Socialism, Democracy and Communism. These battles between individuals and their newspapers and books are told in the context of the soci ...more
Tanya Mar
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So glad to know that Simone isn't only author of "The Second Sex". I really love this book and surprisingly for me the language of the story is so bright and alive. Of course this is still Simone with her existentional questions and deep philisophy, but this time I can see a lot of her personal feelings too.
Kurt Kemmerer
Sep 15, 2015 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
Apr 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who like de Beauvoir and novels of ideas.
Shelves: books-from-1956
I read the #9 bestseller of 1956 while vacationing in wintertime Sedona, AZ. Long, wordy, philosophical but with a compelling story, it was just great.
Located in Paris and later in America, the story begins on Christmas Eve, 1944, at a party to celebrate the liberation of France from Germany. The gathering includes the main characters, all leftists, writers, and publishers who were involved to one degree or another in the Resistance against the Germans. They are now dreaming of the possibilities
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a challenging book on many levels for me.

Never have I read a book that so captures what I imagine the post-WWII era to be like in terms of ideology, culture and reflections on existence and, quite simply, "the meaning of it all." Grappling with ones purpose, exploring contradictions in ones moral code and beliefs, conflict, justice, love, friendship - everything is challenged, questioned - nothing is romanticised.

The book is very heavily wrapped-up in politics of a newspaper, which pers
Daniel Morrison
Oct 18, 2009 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
Feb 07, 2014 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 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.
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Simone de Beauvoir was a French author and philosopher. She wrote novels, monographs on philosophy, political 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 femini ...more
“She was ready to deny the existence of space and time rather than admit that love might not be eternal.” 2268 likes
“She would never change, but one day at the touch of a fingertip she would fall to dust.” 175 likes
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