Bibliofemme Bookclub An Irish Bookclub

January 10, 2012

The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir

Filed under: Bookclub Books,General Fiction — Femmes @ 3:07 pm
Mandarins Book Cover Mandarins
Simone de Beauvoir

Meeting: Saturday 22nd October 2005

This is a book that has stayed with me long after I have turned the last page. Although I would be hesitant to recommended it to everyone and at times found the repetitive dialogue tedious, I have come away from this book with a strong insight into post war France.

The Madarins explores the, politics, high emotions, confusions, insecurities and loyalties in intellectual circles in Paris just after world war two. With a tremendous sense of suspense and place, the reader will find a different angle into this heavily documented time.

The novel is said to reflect aspects of Beavoir’s real life as it’ characters mirror influential intellectuals of the time such as Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. The Mandarins won France’s esteemed Prix Goncourt and is thought to be Beauvoir’s finest novel.

The first few pages open with snappy dialogue and a host of interesting characters, but this soon wanes into philosophical wanderings and a slow paced plot. Around page 350 the pace picks up, yet one gets the sense the author is struggling between fiction and biography, never letting herself dive wholeheartedly into one or the other. Thus the book suffers and maintains a certain aimless recounting style. I found it interesting to read a book where it is said that Beauvoir -a leader of the feminist movement- lets down some of her emotional guards through theses characters to reveal her true feeling towards her relationships. I think that will be my next port of call will be Beauvoir’s non fiction, as I found this book’s pace didn’t hold my attention- despite having most the components to do so, author experience, historical content and strong characters.

Although no one would probably dispute the book could have used a more severe editor, I still found nuggets of wisdom within the 736 pages and am surprised to find that even after months of putting it down, the characters and events are still strong in my mind. 3/5 The Gardener

Score awarded by Bibliofemme: 2.8 out of 5

What the other femmes had to say
The Artist “Although undoubtedly worthy with flashes of brilliant insight into a world of creatives, intellectuals and political change this tome lethargically dragged to a welcome end” 3/5

The Techie “Long winded and weighty – a difficult and somewhat boring read.” 2/5

The DJ “De Beauvoir chronicles post-war France and the inefficacy of the intelligentsia with style and honesty, but The Mandarins is flawed by its length and characters that quickly become tedious.” 3/5

The Writer “If this hadn’t been a bookclub choice I would have stopped at page 200, but I am so glad I didn’t; The Mandarins is a complex, wide reaching book, one that really only begins to take its hold on you after you’ve turned the final pages.” 4/5

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