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A Transatlantic Love Affair: Letters to Nelson Algren Paperback – September 1, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-1565845602 ISBN-10: 1565845609 Edition: First Printing

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A Transatlantic Love Affair: Letters to Nelson Algren + Le Deuxième Sexe, Tome 1 (Folio Essais) (French Edition) + Deuxieme Sexe (Folio Essais) (French Edition)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; First Printing edition (September 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565845609
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565845602
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,543,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Simone de Beauvoir met Nelson Algren in Chicago in February 1947, when a mutual friend arranged for him to serve as her tour guide for two days. The attraction was immediate, and within two months they were in love. Because Algren was so alien to de Beauvoir's world, she spent time describing events and people to him she might otherwise have taken for granted. The result is that de Beauvoir's 300 surviving letters to Algren are unusually rich in detail--love letters with a conscious undercurrent of French social history. Translated and annotated by Kate Leblanc, they offer amusing insights into postwar Parisian life and characters, delivered with the charm of the nonnative writer.

In one letter, de Beauvoir sums up Albert Camus as "an interesting but difficult guy. When he was not pleased with the book he was writing, he was very arrogant; now, he has got a rather great success and he has become very modest and sincere." She coolly describes a dinner party where she witnessed the separation of the apexes of mind and body: "Sartre was alone in a corner, eating sadly some corned-beef, and I sat in front of Rita Hayworth, trying to speak to her, and looking at her beautiful shoulders and breasts which could have made so many men crazy but which were so useless for me." This is essential reading for devotees of the Paris literary scene and other literary romantics. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This engrossing collection is the first publication in America of the 300-plus letters that de Beauvoir wrote to her lover, Algren (The Man with the Golden Arm), between February 1947 and November 1964. At a time when transatlantic phone calls were rare, de Beauvoir used letter-writing to charm her "beloved Chicago man," to outline her progress on what would become The Second Sex and The Mandarins, and to describe the postwar Parisian intelligentsia surrounding her, Sartre and their monthly, Les Temps Modernes. There is more gossip here than philosophical or political debate: for example, fistfights between Arthur Koestler and Albert Camus, daily death threats to Sartre, "this ridiculous thing which is Truman Capote," "Jean Genet, the pederast-burglar" and the "cave" hopping of the literati?the less well known of whom are helpfully footnoted. But her detached descriptions of places, events and parties are ultimately more interesting than her often condescending opinions of people and her need to reiterate to Algren how many women are attracted to her. Written in often awkward yet energetically chatty English ("It is not scotch; it is the moving boat which makes my handwriting so shaking."), de Beauvoir's letters are both guarded and vulnerable. One frustration here is the lack of Algren's voice, although there are some brief summaries of letters or pertinent meetings. If those expecting steamy love letters will be disappointed, this one-sided correspondence provides invaluable primary material for scholars of the Paris intelligentsia and while doing so, reveals a woman alternately feisty, catty, proud and unsure.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert E Jones on July 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This tome unites fascinating, ethereal elements of time and place with the more mundane features of long-distance love.
First, the unique bits of which only Simone de Beauvoir can honestly write: The intellectual scene of post-WWII Paris, firsthand knowledge of Camus and Sartre, a complex network of friendships mixing the communities of European intelligentsia, fascists, existentialists, writers, and actors. Then, of course, there is the head-over-heels love in which she found herself with Nelson Algren, noted American author, immediately upon making his acquaintance. All of these interesting facets add spice to this book.
Surprisingly, what truly makes this book unforgettable, impossible to put down, at times embarrassing in its candor and recognizable to the reader are its themes of commonality to everyone else on the planet. Anyone who has ever fallen in love, suffered instant infatuation for another, missed the touch of a far-away lover, or slogged through a long-distance relationship will relate/commiserate/understand/anticipate both the words and the feelings behind them.
Simone de Beauvoir wrote all of these letters to Nelson Algren in English (not her native French); happily, the misspellings and grammatical errors are preserved without correction. The reader will note progressive improvement in her English abilities as the correspondence lengthens and her relationship matures.
I believe all readers will find these pages touching, satisfying, and intriguing. Those of you who have experienced long-distance passion will enjoy the letters as well, but with the distinct pain of knowing the inevitable conclusion in advance.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
To correct the reader from Brookline, this book is exactly the same as "Beloved Chicago Man"- it's the same book with different titles in the US and the UK. As the reviewers below state, this is a great window into the relationship between Algren & de Beauvoir, and shows the truth feelings of de Beauvoir.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book gives a real insight into de Beauvoir's character- after reading these letters, one will never again look upon her as a cold intellectual. If anything, they show that the passion she felt with Algren could not compare to whatever sort of relationship she had with Sartre. Reveals de Beauvoir's true self more than any of her autobiographies.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
Having read all of De Beauvoir's autobiographies, this book was disappointing. The content can only be described as a mere extension of 'Beloved Chicago Man' (again relating to her relationship with Nelson Algren). In the latter, the letters to Algren are immediatly captivating, but quickly become repetitive rather than developed and by the end seem embarrassingly girlish and naive leaving a strong feeling of voyeuristic intrusion. This latest publication is an unnecessary extension of Beloved Chicago Man.
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