A Dangerous Liaison: A Revelatory New Biography of Simone DeBeauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre

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9781590202685: A Dangerous Liaison: A Revelatory New Biography of Simone DeBeauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre

A Dangerous Liaison tells the intense, passionate, and sometimes painful story of how two brilliant free-thinkers, lovers, and rivals came to share a relationship that lasted more than fifty years.

Moving from the corridors of the Sorbonne to the cafés of Paris's Left Bank, we discover how the strikingly beautiful and gifted young Simone DeBeauvoir came to fall in love with the squinting, arrogant, hard- drinking Jean-Paul Sartre. We learn about that first summer of 1929, filled with heated debates that went on long into the night, sexual rivalry and betrayal, and the dangerous ideas that led people to experiment with new ways of behaving. We hear how Sartre compromised with the Nazis and fell into a Soviet honey-trap. And, thanks to recently discovered letters written by the avowed feminist DeBeauvoir, Seymour-Jones reveals the darker, more dangerous side to the couple's philosophy of free love, including Simone's lesbianism and her pimping of younger girls for Jean-Paul in order to keep his love.

Finally available in the U.S., this is a compelling and fascinating account of what lay behind the legend that this brilliant, tempestuous couple created.

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About the Author:

Carole Seymour-Jones was born in North Wales and educated at Oxford and Sussex Universities. Her recent biography Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. She is the chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of English PEN, and co-editor of Another Sky: Voices of Conscience from Around the World , a collection of pieces by writers imprisoned for expressing their views.

From Publishers Weekly:

In this sensationalist account of the unconventional private and public lives of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Seymour-Jones (Painted Shadow) offers Sartre's incestuous relationship with his mother as a psychosexual backdrop to his adult life as Beauvoir's lover. While generally more sympathetic to Beauvoir, the author presents her with distaste as an exploitative manipulator, a paedophile with a predilection for girl-on-girl action who busied herself procuring young women for Sartre's harem. Woven through these accounts of sexual exploits is the story of their intellectual development, the genesis of their writings and their deeply problematic relationship to Marxism and the Soviet Union. However, all too often, we are returned to cheap psychologizing (murder was in Beavoir's heart) and prurient detail. With frequently unreferenced quotes and claims, the book offers little more than insinuation, eschewing clear evidence and demonstration in favor of conflating the lives of the writers with their fictional characters. Any value such a biography might have as a revisionist antidote to its subjects' own hagiographic tendencies is fatally undermined by the author's questionable use of source material, judgmental tone and preference for cheap effects. (Sept.)
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