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The story of a fragile love between a man doomed to immortality and a beautiful ambitious actress obsessed with living forever in his memory. The novel is seen as a vehicle for the author's philosophy of existentialism and considered to be one of De Beauvoir's finest writings.


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The story of a fragile love between a man doomed to immortality and a beautiful ambitious actress obsessed with living forever in his memory. The novel is seen as a vehicle for the author's philosophy of existentialism and considered to be one of De Beauvoir's finest writings.

30 review for All Men Are Mortal (Virago Modern Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Tous les hommes sont mortels = All Men Are Mortal, Simone de Beauvoir All Men Are Mortal is a 1946 novel by Simone de Beauvoir. It tells the story of Raimon Fosca, a man cursed to live forever. Regina is a young theatrical actress. Her career seems to be promising and her reputation becomes wider with every tour and performance. But she is not content. The sparks of attention in the eyes of her audience seem fleeting and the praises seem typical rather than unique. She can not accept herself sha Tous les hommes sont mortels = All Men Are Mortal, Simone de Beauvoir All Men Are Mortal is a 1946 novel by Simone de Beauvoir. It tells the story of Raimon Fosca, a man cursed to live forever. Regina is a young theatrical actress. Her career seems to be promising and her reputation becomes wider with every tour and performance. But she is not content. The sparks of attention in the eyes of her audience seem fleeting and the praises seem typical rather than unique. She can not accept herself sharing their attention and regards with her co-star Florence. Following a performance in Rouen, Regina chooses to stand aside from her theatrical troupe and starts an internal monologue concerning her uniqueness, or lack thereof, among other women. She keeps comparing herself to Florence and focusing on the current love life of her fellow actress. She bitterly acknowledges that Florence is probably not thinking about her and neither are the other people around her. Then she notices another man who seems to pay little attention to her, Raymond Fosca. Fosca is described as a reasonably attractive with a crooked nose, tall and athletic, seemingly young but with a passionless face and empty eyes that remind Regina of her father in his deathbed. Soon enough Regina finds that Fosca resides in the same hotel as her theatrical troupe. He has piqued the curiosity of the staff and several visitors for his peculiar habits. He had been staying in the hotel for a month but hardly spoke to anybody and appeared deaf to any attempts to speak to him. He spent his days in the garden, sitting in silence even in rain. He never changed clothes and no one had seen him eat anything. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: چهارم ماه مارس سال 1984 میلادی عنوان: همه میمیرند؛ نویسنده: سیمون دو بوار؛ مترجم: مهدی سحابی؛ تهران، نشر نو، 1362؛ در 415 ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، نشر تنویر؛ 1377؛ در 413 ص؛ شابک: 9646819028؛ چاپ سوم 1378؛ چاپ چهارم 1380؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، نشر نو، پنجم 1383؛ ششم 1386؛ هفتم 1389؛ شابک: 9647443285؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، نشر نو، آسیم، 1392؛ در 413 ص؛ چاپ نهم 1393؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسوی - سده 20 م رمان، داستان مردی به نام «رایموندو فوسکا» را نقل می‌کند، که نفرین شده، تا برای همیشه زنده باشد. نقل از برگردان کتاب به فارسی: «...؛ و مرگ عزیز، مرگی که زیبایی گل‌ها از اوست، شیرینی جوانی از اوست، مرگی که به کار و کردار انسان، به سخاوت، و بی‌باکی، و جان‌فشانی، و از خودگذشتگی او، معنا می‌دهد، مرگی که همه ی ارزش زندگی بسته به اوست.» پایان نقل. ا. شربیانی

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lizzy

    “Insects were scurrying about in the shade cast by the grass, and the lawn was a huge monotonous forest of thousands of little green blades, all equal, all alike, hiding the world from each other. Anguished, she thought, "I don't want to be just another blade of grass.” Part historical fiction part philosophy, All Men are Mortal by Simone de Beauvoir was written, I can only imagine, to make us wonder about life itself. In the first section we read about Raymond Fosca’s relationship with Regi “Insects were scurrying about in the shade cast by the grass, and the lawn was a huge monotonous forest of thousands of little green blades, all equal, all alike, hiding the world from each other. Anguished, she thought, "I don't want to be just another blade of grass.” Part historical fiction part philosophy, All Men are Mortal by Simone de Beauvoir was written, I can only imagine, to make us wonder about life itself. In the first section we read about Raymond Fosca’s relationship with Regina, a self-obsessed actress, and how when she learns of his immortality falls in love with him. She imagines she could live forever through his memory of her. Then there is his tale, through war and peace and death, of course, with hints of happiness. That endlessly repeats itself. We read that any victory or progress is ephemeral, and for every marginal advance there is a catastrophic retreat. What futility! De Beauvoir’s novel is written to show the futility of immortality and perhaps to show us the purpose of human life even if death is unavoidable. The clearest glimpse or her explanation of it all can be read in a conversation that Fosca has with one of his descendants, Armand, a participant in the revolutionary movement. Raymond narrates: ‘I don’t believe in the future,’ I said. ‘There will be a future, that at least is certain.’ ‘But all of you speak of it as if it were going to be a paradise. There won’t be any paradises, and that’s equally certain.’ ‘Of course not.’ He studied me, seemed to be searching my face to find the words that might win me over. ‘Paradise for us is simply the moment when the dreams we dream today are finally realized. We’re well aware that after that other men will have new needs, new desires, will make new demands.’… ‘I’ve had a little smattering of history. You’re not teaching me anything. Everything that’s ever done finally ends by being undone. I realize that. And from the hour you’re born you begin to die. But between birth and death there’s life.’… ‘In my opinion, we should concern ourselves only with that part of the future on which we have a hold. But we should try our best to enlarge our hold on it as much as possible.’… ‘You admit,’ I said after a short silence, ‘that you’re working for only a limited future.’ ‘A limited future, a limited life – that’s our lot as men. And it’s enough,’ he said. ‘If I knew that in fifty years it would be against the law to employ children in factories, against the law for men to work more than ten hours a day, if I knew that the people would choose their own representatives, that the press would be free, I would be completely satisfied.’ Again his eyes fell upon me. ‘You find the workers’ conditions abominable. Well, think of those workers you know personally, only of them. Don’t you want to help change their lot in life?’” All Men are Mortal is an intriguing, provoking and haunting work which will leave a lasting impression in reader’s mind. 4 stars, recommended. _____

  3. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    My name is Raymond Fosca; I was born in the city of Carmona, in what is now Italy; I am over seven hundred years old; I am immortal. People imagine that eternal life would be the greatest of all blessings, but they are wrong; no more horrible curse can be imagined. I know, as no mortal man can, the futility of all action. For centuries, I strove to preserve the honour and independence of my beloved city; I fought bitter wars against our neighbors; I forced my citizens to toil and suffer in the se My name is Raymond Fosca; I was born in the city of Carmona, in what is now Italy; I am over seven hundred years old; I am immortal. People imagine that eternal life would be the greatest of all blessings, but they are wrong; no more horrible curse can be imagined. I know, as no mortal man can, the futility of all action. For centuries, I strove to preserve the honour and independence of my beloved city; I fought bitter wars against our neighbors; I forced my citizens to toil and suffer in the service of what I believed was a greater good; I discovered, too late, that all my efforts had been in vain, that their only effect had been to weaken Italy against the rapacity of France, Germany and Spain. I decided that my error had been to limit the scope of my efforts to a single country; I manoeuvred between the thrones of kings; I tried to steer Europe towards a peaceful and united empire; I succeeded only in creating still greater bloodshed and misery. I am separated by centuries from my own time, my own people; all those I have cared for are dead; even their memories have faded; I no longer see their faces clearly in my mind; I no longer hear their voices. From time to time, and despite all my precautions, I have been unable to stop myself from falling in love with a woman. For a few years, she allows me to become alive again, makes me feel a mortal man bound to his time; then she grows old; she discovers my secret; she comes to hate me; she dies; once again, I am alone. I try to care for my children; if I protect them, they too come to hate me; if I do not, their foolishness and egotism soon destroys them. I wished to tell my story, but I lack the gift. I searched for a person who could help me; in the end I discovered a woman of unusual gifts, a writer, a philosopher, some would say a genius. She listened carefully; she transformed my words into an elegant book; she published it; there were a few positive reviews; it enjoyed a moderate success; a few decades later, it had almost been forgotten. I would not give up; I imagined that I had perhaps aimed too high, that a less intellectual approach would be more successful. I found another writer, a vulgar American; she changed every detail of what I had told her; I could not even recognise myself in her novel; she assured me that her alterations were necessary in order to gain the public's attention; the book received worldwide acclaim; it was read by everyone, widely imitated, turned into a film; the author wrote three more books, each one stupider than its predecessor; she only became more famous and successful. Mortal reader, you do not understand your happiness. You do what you can for the years you are on Earth, and the knowledge of your inevitable death gives your short life meaning. I wish that I, too, could die; but I cannot.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lynne King

    Review - All Men Are Mortal - Simone de Beauvoir– 11 February 2019 If you are into Existentialism or even Absurdism, then this is the book for you. Simone de Beauvoir has indeed excelled herself with combining her own philosophical leanings with a rather fascinating historical novel starting in 1279, in a castle in the city of Carmona in Italy, with immortality thrown in with our hero Raimondo Fosca. This individual would end up ruling Carmona. These were difficult and hazardous times as Italy was Review - All Men Are Mortal - Simone de Beauvoir– 11 February 2019 If you are into Existentialism or even Absurdism, then this is the book for you. Simone de Beauvoir has indeed excelled herself with combining her own philosophical leanings with a rather fascinating historical novel starting in 1279, in a castle in the city of Carmona in Italy, with immortality thrown in with our hero Raimondo Fosca. This individual would end up ruling Carmona. These were difficult and hazardous times as Italy was not unified at the time and regions such as Florence and Genoa were constantly searching for ways and means to increase the size, power and wealth of their provinces. Carmona was viewed as a desirable target to acquire at whatever cost and it seemed at the time as if it would fall but then cause and effect entered the equation. Food was so low the situation was desperate and then like a miracle one of the beggars came out with a bottle of this Egyptian elixir which evidently made one immortal if one had the courage to drink it. Fosca was concerned about the future of Carmona, especially as the plague had started to gain a hold, and so it was tried on a mouse first of all. This poor creature then had its neck twisted and it indeed lived to tell the tale and to do so continuously for immortality as Fosca did indeed do. Fosca spent many centuries in different places, and countries, and with different women, having children who invariably tried to kill him because of his immortality. They all failed of course. But there is a price with immortality because Fossa was soon very aware of the meaning of existence. He began to have nightmares and yet life continued. That in itself proved to be the nightmare. He was even an advisor to Charles V and initially wanted to make him the ruler of the universe but soon realised that there was no universe. Fosca travelled endlessly over the centuries but existence was always the same, no change. Then he finds himself in Paris in the twentieth century and meets Regina, an aspiring egotistical actress and it is this individual who asks Fosca to tell her his life story as he had mentioned that he was immortal but even being immortal has a price as she soon finds out. As for the ending, I believe that there are several interpretations but it is the screaming, especially the first scream that confused me. Why?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    This is for those who wonder "What is the meaning of life?" and are pessimists. A strange novel, this is part historical fiction and part philosophy. It dragged at places, but overall, I enjoyed it. It definitely made me think. My favorite section is the first section, because it is the most like a novel, and a good one at that. A self-obsessed young actress meets a strange man. He tells her he is immortal and suddenly she decides she's in love with him because through his memory, she can exist This is for those who wonder "What is the meaning of life?" and are pessimists. A strange novel, this is part historical fiction and part philosophy. It dragged at places, but overall, I enjoyed it. It definitely made me think. My favorite section is the first section, because it is the most like a novel, and a good one at that. A self-obsessed young actress meets a strange man. He tells her he is immortal and suddenly she decides she's in love with him because through his memory, she can exist forever. The rest of the book is his tale, which consists of war and peace and death, with a little sprinkling of happiness, endlessly repeated. I was a little disappointed at how narrow some of the characters were, including the main character. He gets tired of life when he is a couple of hundred years old, and doesn't do much except obsess about politics and give up on everything, over and over again. His story is about how pointless everything is, and how we should all feel sorry for him, but I felt there was so much more that could have been explored.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    "'Oh, how I'd like to believe that I'll never rot in a grave!' 'On the contrary, immortality is a terrible curse.' He looked at her mournfully. 'I'm alive and yet I'm not living. I'll never die and yet I have no future. I'm no one. I'm without a past, faceless.' 'No,' she said gently, 'I see you.' 'You see me?' He passed his hand over his face. 'If only it were possible to be absolutely nothing. But there are always other people on earth and they see you. They speak and you can't prevent yourself f "'Oh, how I'd like to believe that I'll never rot in a grave!' 'On the contrary, immortality is a terrible curse.' He looked at her mournfully. 'I'm alive and yet I'm not living. I'll never die and yet I have no future. I'm no one. I'm without a past, faceless.' 'No,' she said gently, 'I see you.' 'You see me?' He passed his hand over his face. 'If only it were possible to be absolutely nothing. But there are always other people on earth and they see you. They speak and you can't prevent yourself from hearing them, and you answer them, and you begin to live again, knowing that you don't really exist. Endlessly.'" (16)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Caterina

    Simone de Beauvoir's tragic figure - the man who cannot die - is also a man who cannot love. In directly confronting the concepts of mortality and immortality, this novel also metaphorically deals with political ambition as well as intellectual and social alienation. The story begins in the early 20th century when Regina, a serious actress, becomes obsessed with Fosca - the deathless man - in whose gaze she feels she will be "saved" from the inevitable anonymity of death. As Fosca recounts to Re Simone de Beauvoir's tragic figure - the man who cannot die - is also a man who cannot love. In directly confronting the concepts of mortality and immortality, this novel also metaphorically deals with political ambition as well as intellectual and social alienation. The story begins in the early 20th century when Regina, a serious actress, becomes obsessed with Fosca - the deathless man - in whose gaze she feels she will be "saved" from the inevitable anonymity of death. As Fosca recounts to Regina his seven-century journey from political fervor to fervent desire for oblivion (or lack of desire for anything), his story becomes a metaphor for the tragic history of Western so-called civilization, whose ruthless acts of greed for power and wealth were perhaps fueled by an inability to accept mortality. I thought this was going the be "what the story was about" - but it was only the beginning. After 200+ years of repeatedly failed or overthrown ambitions, Fosca begins - just barely - to long for human relationships - the authentic love of a woman, the friendship of a man, children who do not end up hating him. Yet his awareness of his own immortality makes him feel so separate and different from others that his attempts to connect often end in destruction. I gave the novel four stars for ideas, not structure or writing style. De Beauvoir wrote best about relationships between men and women - and the novel is populated with several interesting and quite different women characters - unusual for an existentialist novel. It is worth slogging through the tedious medieval warfare of Section 1 (after the lively 20th century prologue) to get to the better written, more intimate later sections.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Khashayar Mohammadi

    Its a very strange book. I believe I would have enjoyed it immensely given I did not know that it was written by Beauvoir. The complex relationship arguments in the domicile are abruptly transformed into historical fiction; which in itself has no flaws, but as an avid reader of Beauvoir's, I can't say I wasn't disappointed. I kept waiting for the plot to come back to the endless suffocating arguments within a single room, but they never did. Its a great book in itself, but I did not enjoy it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Terence

    Finished this last night around midnight. Review to come. ---------------------------------------- I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again here: I am not a Lit major. My chief exposure to “great literature” came through my high school teachers, some of whom were quite extraordinary and none were anything less than good. And it was one of those teachers who introduced me to the philosophies of Existentialism and Transcendentalism (in their American manifestations). I forget her name because Finished this last night around midnight. Review to come. ---------------------------------------- I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again here: I am not a Lit major. My chief exposure to “great literature” came through my high school teachers, some of whom were quite extraordinary and none were anything less than good. And it was one of those teachers who introduced me to the philosophies of Existentialism and Transcendentalism (in their American manifestations). I forget her name because I never had her in an actual English class but she presented a series of lectures/readings in the early morning hours before classes started that I attended – being the consummate student that I am. I was never much attracted to the Transcendentalists but I was (and am) to the Existentialists, and that fascination continued (if unconsciously) through my subsequent reading career, though not to the extent that I read anything by Sartre or de Beauvoir, or any other non-American author. The genesis for picking up All Men Are Mortal was not Existentialism; rather it was a discussion I had with a coworker about death and mortality. At the time, I was reading something that somehow led to the topic, and she mentioned that she had read the book when she was an undergraduate and liked it. “Life,” “death,” “mortality” – these are Big Issues which interest me and when I wikied All Men Are Mortal it sounded interesting. The book is divided into 5 parts, a prologue and an epilogue. The prologue is the best part of the novel (the epilogue is too short to really count), and I wish that de Beauvoir had stuck with her initial protagonists, Regina, a self-centered actress, and Raymond Fosca, the immortal man who’s brought back to life by Regina’s interest in him. The intervening parts are episodes of Raymond’s life that he recounts to Regina to explain himself and as a warning that he will destroy her life if she continues to see him. It’s a weakness of the novel that these sections drag on too long and to reiterate what’s gone before but there’s enough good material here that I could forgive the occasional doldrums (particularly the relationship with Marianne de Sinclair in part 4 and Armand in part 5). Raymond imbibes a potion of immortality in 13th century Italy with grand designs about what amazing things he could accomplish if he had all the time in the world only to see his designs constantly fail. In this first section, he brings his home city of Carmona (a fictional Italian city-state) to the heights of power only to see everything undone by the Black Death. He starts all over and brings his people to the heights of power again to see it all undone again (this time by the machinations of the French and Germans). The other sections cover the same ground in various settings until we reach 19th century France and the revolutions of 1832 and 1848, which promised a whole new society that would fulfill the grand promises of the original Revolution, only to see those dreams smashed. The point is made over and over again that any victory, any progress is ephemeral, and for every marginal advance there’s a catastrophic retreat. In the face of such unrelenting futility, you would expect this to be a terribly depressing book but it isn’t. De Beauvoir’s conclusion won’t satisfy a believer in immortality or that there’s purpose in human life but I found it convincing. Her clearest explication of it comes in part 5 in a conversation between Raymond and Armand, one of his descendants and a participant in the revolutionary movement (the first speaker is Raymond): “‘I don’t believe in the future,’ I said. “‘There will be a future, that at least is certain.’ “‘But all of you speak of it as if it were going to be a paradise. There won’t be any paradises, and that’s equally certain.’ “‘Of course not.’ He studied me, seemed to be searching my face to find the words that might win me over. ‘Paradise for us is simply the moment when the dreams we dream today are finally realized. We’re well aware that after that other men will have new needs, new desires, will make new demands.’… “‘I’ve had a little smattering of history. You’re not teaching me anything. Everything that’s ever done finally ends by being undone. I realize that. And from the hour you’re born you begin to die. But between birth and death there’s life.’… “‘In my opinion, we should concern ourselves only with that part of the future on which we have a hold. But we should try our best to enlarge our hold on it as much as possible.’… “‘You admit,’ I said after a short silence, ‘that you’re working for only a limited future.’ “‘A limited future, a limited life – that’s our lot as men. And it’s enough,’ he said. ‘If I knew that in fifty years it would be against the law to employ children in factories, against the law for men to work more than ten hours a day, if I knew that the people would choose their own representatives, that the press would be free, I would be completely satisfied.’ Again his eyes fell upon me. ‘You find the workers’ conditions abominable. Well, think of those workers you know personally, only of them. Don’t you want to help change their lot in life?’” (pp. 327-28) The more I ruminate about the book, the more I like it. I’m not going to change my initial 3-star rating but it’s a more confidant one. I’m not rushing out to buy all of de Beauvoir’s oeuvre but I am interesting in reading more of her stuff and it reinforces the notion that I should get around to reading The Second Sex one of these days.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

    Fosca was born in Italy on the 17th of May 1279 and when he was a young adult he became immortal. Not a vampire or a man-wolf as in Twilight, but just immortal. He gets stabbed and the wound heals. He could spice up his brandy with arsenic and feel refreshed after drinking it. He doesn't get sick, or get old, and he can go on for months and years sleeping or not eating anything and he'd still be the same handsome Fosca. This is probably everyone's dream: to live in the peak of one's fleshly exis Fosca was born in Italy on the 17th of May 1279 and when he was a young adult he became immortal. Not a vampire or a man-wolf as in Twilight, but just immortal. He gets stabbed and the wound heals. He could spice up his brandy with arsenic and feel refreshed after drinking it. He doesn't get sick, or get old, and he can go on for months and years sleeping or not eating anything and he'd still be the same handsome Fosca. This is probably everyone's dream: to live in the peak of one's fleshly existence forever, immune from diseases and concerns about mortality. But this guy, as imagined by Simone de Beauvoir (1908 - 1986), is in agony. How can he not be? I believe an individual's memory has it's limits, like that of a computer, and is designed only to accommodate a lifetime of emotions and memory. Just imagine this repeated thousands of time: you fall in love, marry, have children, watch you wife grow old, wither, die; watch the same thing happen to your children, grandchildren, great great grandchildren, your next wife, the next generation and the next, ceaselessly, without hope of ending, one punishing sorrow after another, ad infinitum. Good that this was not plagiarized by Stephanie Meyer in Twilight (or did she? I have not read any of her books, but was forced to watch the movies by my wife). Glad, too, that the best moment in this novel wasn't copied in any of the Twilight films: Fosca has his current flame, Marianne, who found out that he'll never die. That he would surely one day watch her die. That after her he'll have many, many more women and loves and that'll never never end. That before her were his other great love affairs spanning the centuries that had gone by. One of them, long dead, cropped up during their conversation. Fosca tries to reassure her that he loves her most of all. The dialogue: Marianne: "And her voice? Can you recall her voice?" Fosca: "No." (touches Marianne's hand). "I never loved her the way I love you." Marianne: "Oh, I know you'll forget me. And it's probably better that way. They must weigh heavily upon you, all those memories." (She then places the flowers Fosca brought and twisted the petals in her thin fingers.) Fosca: "You'll live in my heart longer than you'd have lived in the heart of any mortal man." Marianne (bitterly): "No. If you were mortal, I'd go on living in you until the end of the world, because for me your death would be the end of the world. Instead, I'm going to die in a world that will never end." If this were a movie scene, this'd be the part where the girls would go : ooooohhhh and quiver with pleasure in their seats.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Oceana2602

    A typical case of being stuck at my parents without a book. Why do I never learn? Oh, that's right, because my parents have books. Some of them are even good. What started as a bored "okay, let's read a few pages of this", turned into an afternoon of intense reading. I was really impressed with this book. An unlikely story of a young actress who meets a man who is immortal. The contrast between the two lives should be what makes this book interesting, but to me, it was the idea of being immortal. A typical case of being stuck at my parents without a book. Why do I never learn? Oh, that's right, because my parents have books. Some of them are even good. What started as a bored "okay, let's read a few pages of this", turned into an afternoon of intense reading. I was really impressed with this book. An unlikely story of a young actress who meets a man who is immortal. The contrast between the two lives should be what makes this book interesting, but to me, it was the idea of being immortal. Fosca's reasons for becoming immortal, and his life throughout the next 700 years. It is beautifully told, never boring, and it quietly lets you graps the horror of his decision, while at the same time, well, I don't know, but wouldn't you want to be immortal if you could? Even if it is like that? I love life too much not to take the chance if I had it, but doesn't being immortal at the same time mean that you don't "live" anymore? Aren't life and death so closely connected that without death, you don't have a life anymore? (yes, don't worry, I'm not insane, I do know you can't really be immortal) Anyway, the book made me think and I like to think about these things. And it really left a lasting impression - I find myself thinking about some things again and again - like the idea of just sleeping for fifty years, because there's nothing else left to to. And the mouse, of course. The only other living being who is still around to share immortality with Fosca.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Felek

    What have you done to me De Beauvoir? I feel so empty and dry inside!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ray

    What is the meaning of Life? If there is Immortality, what can we do with it? Are people happier if they simply die and never wake up or are they happier if they could live forever? I liked the philosophic parts from this novel, and frankly, I have been expected them from S.d.Beauvoir. There are many questions that this novel makes you ask yourself - about goals, life and death -, there is a lot of pessimism in it, but also if we can see beyond all those facts and remember the lines in which she What is the meaning of Life? If there is Immortality, what can we do with it? Are people happier if they simply die and never wake up or are they happier if they could live forever? I liked the philosophic parts from this novel, and frankly, I have been expected them from S.d.Beauvoir. There are many questions that this novel makes you ask yourself - about goals, life and death -, there is a lot of pessimism in it, but also if we can see beyond all those facts and remember the lines in which she describes mortal's happiness, we can also found rays (small ones, indeed) of smth that resembles with optimism. One of the ideas that I guess it is being emphasised is the happy moments that a mortal can enjoy - he/she can have dreams/goals/can laugh and cry, can fight, be defeated and start again. Think for instance of Regine, of her childhood memories, how happy she was in that field and how Fosca is unable to feel anything. In immortality, all these happy moments that all of us know dissappear, they have no meaning, and LIFE as a form of LIVING and not of SURVIVING dissappears. Who is the victim in this novel? The mortal ones or the immortal one? I guess both of them, because the Mortal ones look themselves into the Immortal mirror, while the Immortal one, being a ghost of a human being, reflects into the Mortal mirror. I gave three stars to this novel because in my opinion it contains more philosophical pages than pure literature. Yes, I enjoyed the message, but sometimes there was too much ... details, history (although I love history), broken style ... but all in all, Simone de Beauvoir is one of the central figure in the world of Letters and I would definetly recommand her to anyone who is interested in feminism (for The Second Sex), philosphy and meaning of Life.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matthias

    Fosca, born in 1279, is immortal. He is used for two purposes: A time journey through Western history, and an existential-theological discussion of the meaning of life. The former reduces to a travelogue of human warfare. Is it maybe humanity's stubborn desire for eternal life that ultimately causes all this misery? Is the easiest way to become great and be remembered over the graves of others? A contemporary and more radical travelogue of human warfare is László Krasznahorkai's War and War, which Fosca, born in 1279, is immortal. He is used for two purposes: A time journey through Western history, and an existential-theological discussion of the meaning of life. The former reduces to a travelogue of human warfare. Is it maybe humanity's stubborn desire for eternal life that ultimately causes all this misery? Is the easiest way to become great and be remembered over the graves of others? A contemporary and more radical travelogue of human warfare is László Krasznahorkai's War and War, which makes an interesting companion read. The latter is a curious mix. Existence and conscience are recurring themes, from the radical perspective of somebody who cannot die, and therefore doesn't need to care, but seeks answers nevertheless. – Un homme m'a dit un jour : il n'existe qu'un seul bien, c'est d'agir selon sa conscience. Je pense qu'il avait raison et que tout ce que nous prétendons faire pour les autres ne sert à rien. Passages like these resonate with Ayn Rand's objectivism, which emerged around the same time this book was written. Clearly Simone de Beauvoir does not embrace this, but maybe views it as inevitable. Overall, the book is imbued with pessimism like this one: Maintenant toutes les fleurs s'étaient mises à se ressembler, les nuances du ciel s'étaient confondues, et les journées n'auraient plus qu'une seule couleur : la couleur de l'indifférence. Understandable, given the times.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kastoori

    Beauvoir's take on existentialism is uncanny and apt. Describing the eternal cycle of life through the eyes of an immortal man of the 13th century to the 20th century, she is able to subvert the glory of immortality that humans have been longing for since classical antiquity. Hugely historical and completely fictitious, this novel is an elaborate take on life, infinitude, will, desire and love amongst other things. Since I had read Sartre's Nausea which deals with a very human form of existentia Beauvoir's take on existentialism is uncanny and apt. Describing the eternal cycle of life through the eyes of an immortal man of the 13th century to the 20th century, she is able to subvert the glory of immortality that humans have been longing for since classical antiquity. Hugely historical and completely fictitious, this novel is an elaborate take on life, infinitude, will, desire and love amongst other things. Since I had read Sartre's Nausea which deals with a very human form of existentialism, reading Beavoir became a much more fulfilling experience. I suggest readers to read both these books one after the other to understand the different facets of existentialism.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa ML

    And death, was the meaning. Death was the gift of life. Death was why we felt we "were". Death was why we could feel. And, him.. He, lived..

  17. 5 out of 5

    Wayne Shorey

    Despite my fascination with Beauvoir and propensity to give her more credit than she perhaps deserves for Existentialism and the development of Jean-Paul Sartre, I can't overlook her almost laughable shortcomings as a novelist. None of her novels are truly novels, but are more philosophical treatises in fiction form (see Ayn Rand), and what makes them readable is their compelling philosophical content (see The Mandarins). This novel has two main flaws: 1.) its philosophical content is interestin Despite my fascination with Beauvoir and propensity to give her more credit than she perhaps deserves for Existentialism and the development of Jean-Paul Sartre, I can't overlook her almost laughable shortcomings as a novelist. None of her novels are truly novels, but are more philosophical treatises in fiction form (see Ayn Rand), and what makes them readable is their compelling philosophical content (see The Mandarins). This novel has two main flaws: 1.) its philosophical content is interesting, but could have been "done" in a very short story (or bumper sticker?) instead of a 400-page novel; it's just thin; and 2.) it turns out to be more of a historical novel than anything else, a genre I find almost unreadable. Though I'm both a trained historian and a novelist, I find the combination of history and fiction to be almost always unhappy (see George Eliot, Romola). I see the necessity of the historical content in this particular story (the tale of an immortal human), but most of it could easily have been discarded. A friend of mine (who read the book first) said that when she began to yawn in the historical portions she actually thought that Beauvoir did the history part in a tedious manner on purpose as an artistic statement of the inevitable jadedness of a life that lasts for centuries: in other words, she suspected that Beauvoir was TRYING to bore the reader. I'm afraid that that's giving Beauvoir-the-novelist too much credit.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Tis about an actress desperate for an immortal man to fall for her so she can endure via his memory. A fave. Guess I empathise with exile. Loved the exposure of memory's mortality. "For twenty years it seemed to me that I had been taking part in a game, and that one day, at the stroke of midnight, I would return to the land of shadows. ...In a little while, the hands would be pointing to midnight; they would point to midnight tomorrow and the next day, and I would still be here." *sniffs*

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dee

    I thought this book would be interesting, but it failed to gain my attention. I found myself as bored with this book as Fosca feels bored with his eternal life.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. What would it be like to live forever? Terrible, apparently. A compelling story that travels through time follows Fosca, an immortal man, desperate for a reason to live. I liked Fosca’s imperfections. He could never stay happy for too long, cursed to a future where everyone he loves is dead. His immortality reflects the repetitive history of human life. It’s just war followed by peace, followed by war, followed by peace. It’s a circle we can never escape, so perhaps de Beauvoir is asking us: is What would it be like to live forever? Terrible, apparently. A compelling story that travels through time follows Fosca, an immortal man, desperate for a reason to live. I liked Fosca’s imperfections. He could never stay happy for too long, cursed to a future where everyone he loves is dead. His immortality reflects the repetitive history of human life. It’s just war followed by peace, followed by war, followed by peace. It’s a circle we can never escape, so perhaps de Beauvoir is asking us: is there a point? Can we live for something else? That she wrote this in 1946 and society hasn’t changed since then, the answer’s probably no. 3 stars because the middle was *very* slow, I took a two week break from reading it. The narrative was good though; reflective, thought-provoking and inspiring.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Luís

    In this novel, Simone de Beauvoir takes up a classic myth in literature, that of immortality. One day Raymond Fosca is offered this one: to save the life of a poor soul against the assurance of eternal life. Tuscan prince of the 13th century, eager for great work, he does not hesitate despite the prejudices made and drinks a bottle of an elixir which guarantees him eternal life. It is a flashback's story of centuries that animates the pages of this novel—from Charles V to Jacques Cartier, through In this novel, Simone de Beauvoir takes up a classic myth in literature, that of immortality. One day Raymond Fosca is offered this one: to save the life of a poor soul against the assurance of eternal life. Tuscan prince of the 13th century, eager for great work, he does not hesitate despite the prejudices made and drinks a bottle of an elixir which guarantees him eternal life. It is a flashback's story of centuries that animates the pages of this novel—from Charles V to Jacques Cartier, through the Age of Enlightenment and the Revolution of 1848, in a tête-à-tête between Fosca and Régine, an actress, eager for glory and sure of its existence. Well, almost. Beyond the immortality and the deep death it causes in Fosca, who only lives again a few times thanks to women, or to causes which give him the illusion of acting and living, while being dead, this novel is also a plea for man, for his action, for his madness. A man knows that he is mortal, remember that what he builds or what aspires to will not satisfy him, that he will probably not see the end and the completion of his objectives. A man knows that even when his goals reached will be replaced by others, because he is by nature dissatisfied and it is this dissatisfaction, this search for more or different that makes him a living Man. Fosca sees, through the fate of the characters he makes us meet, that it is always the same story that begins again. Beyond the horror of eternal life, it is the beauty of the action of Man that prevails. Whatever happens, despite the faults and the atrocities committed, he seeks to act, to improve his lot, also improve that of the whole, always facing the same opposing forces, an eternal renewal. Must we then fear death and say that our lives are useless since, in the end, all that has preceded and all that will follow will always be only a beginning and that hardly born we are already dead like the bitterly notes Fosca? On the contrary, should we be impressed and carried by this force - eternal - which guides our steps? Fosca measures over the pages these sentences which were said and repeated to him like a leitmotif during the centuries which he crossed: it is because they die that men live.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    I'm reviewing a book I had read about twenty years ago but which I will never forget, such was its effect on me at the time. The text itself, as I've found typical of de Beauvoir, is simple and unadorned and made reading this work in the original French fast and quite easy, even though French is not my first language. But the power of the novel is in addressing a fundamental question most of us will ask sooner or later: If we could live forever, would we want to? What would the experience of liv I'm reviewing a book I had read about twenty years ago but which I will never forget, such was its effect on me at the time. The text itself, as I've found typical of de Beauvoir, is simple and unadorned and made reading this work in the original French fast and quite easy, even though French is not my first language. But the power of the novel is in addressing a fundamental question most of us will ask sooner or later: If we could live forever, would we want to? What would the experience of living century after century, while our loved ones died, be like? I won't give the plot away, but as the way I've phrased the question might hint, we might hesitate before accepting such a gift as immortality.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    I was told this was Beauvoir's strangest novel, so I expected something, ya know, stranger. It really isn't that strange. Its actually pretty straightforward magic realism. A famous actress meets and falls in love with a man who is immortal. Her attraction is pretty much just because he will remember her long after her death which is what she has always wanted but she finds his mindset puzzling. In order to explain he tells her his story. This is a pretty solid philosophical novel, if a bit re I was told this was Beauvoir's strangest novel, so I expected something, ya know, stranger. It really isn't that strange. Its actually pretty straightforward magic realism. A famous actress meets and falls in love with a man who is immortal. Her attraction is pretty much just because he will remember her long after her death which is what she has always wanted but she finds his mindset puzzling. In order to explain he tells her his story. This is a pretty solid philosophical novel, if a bit redundant in places, though I think that is by design. I was expecting something much less conventional but it is one of the better books I have read recently. It is a pretty compelling speculation of how being immortal would change a person's perspective on life.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mila

    I appreciate the philosophical value of this novel and the ideas behind but the experience was simply boring most of the time. I actually liked the prologue and the first part but then Raymond's story just repeats itself over and over again and he becomes more and more unlikable. I think it would've worked as a novella or a short story but as a 500-page novel, it's just dull.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hugh

    Existentialism is a weird topic, it can go one of two ways: you either have your life affirmed and believe that everything you do in the short space of time you have on earth will make a huge difference to the societal quest, OR it rips you apart and lays bare the fact that humans were a mistake and that really, what we do makes is inconsequential and time is entirely indifferent to our lives... Depending on your philosophical view, and when you read this book, will be the main determinant of whe Existentialism is a weird topic, it can go one of two ways: you either have your life affirmed and believe that everything you do in the short space of time you have on earth will make a huge difference to the societal quest, OR it rips you apart and lays bare the fact that humans were a mistake and that really, what we do makes is inconsequential and time is entirely indifferent to our lives... Depending on your philosophical view, and when you read this book, will be the main determinant of whether you enjoy it. One thing that is definitely worth noting is how the passage of time is written in this book. As the main character is immortal, what would be half a lifetime for mortals is barely commented on. Short sentences such as "15 years had passed" or "I slept for 60 years" are dropped into the text as if they mean nothing and it adds yet another interesting dimension to the already complex character Fosca is. You really, truly, realise you know nothing about what it means to be immortal.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jan vanTilburg

    Read a long time ago. It always stayed with me that it is not as great as it may seem to live forever. The main character’s main fear is that he will stay alone in the world (with the mouse). That should be a clear indication how he feels about his life.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bernd

    A great idea to have a protagonist who is immortal: It shows how what a normal human being would think to be important, love, belief, family etc. is washed away by the experience that all and everything is either repeated (and by this repetition becomes insipid) or senseless in that the end of it is always immortality, so that the protagonist will have to experience its death anyway. A great idea as I said, but I chose to give only 3 stars as the language and the structure of the book is as borin A great idea to have a protagonist who is immortal: It shows how what a normal human being would think to be important, love, belief, family etc. is washed away by the experience that all and everything is either repeated (and by this repetition becomes insipid) or senseless in that the end of it is always immortality, so that the protagonist will have to experience its death anyway. A great idea as I said, but I chose to give only 3 stars as the language and the structure of the book is as boring as the protagonist might experience life. It's a pity that such a great philosophical issue which bears an enormous potential is translated in such a poor book. Other books of Beauvoir, in which she recounts her life, are better. For people interested in existential philosophy better refer to the stories of Sartre and Camus, both acquaintances of Beauvoir. (I read the German edition)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Miriam Cihodariu

    The novel puts into a very beautiful story-line the self-obvious answer to the question 'Why isn't it a good idea to live forever, if you could?'. It's never pompous, nor too lost in boring descriptions, nor too infused with a character's own sense of personal grandeur. From my point of view, the story is just the way it should be and will remain in my top faves. Also, it gets extra points for this really cute way of expressing anguish and dread: the fear that all which will be left at the end of The novel puts into a very beautiful story-line the self-obvious answer to the question 'Why isn't it a good idea to live forever, if you could?'. It's never pompous, nor too lost in boring descriptions, nor too infused with a character's own sense of personal grandeur. From my point of view, the story is just the way it should be and will remain in my top faves. Also, it gets extra points for this really cute way of expressing anguish and dread: the fear that all which will be left at the end of the world and the end of time will be just you and an equally immortal little mouse, on top of the world's rubble. Charming.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Somehow I missed reading this book over the years, despite reading and re-reading most of de Beauvoir's output. I am so sorry I didn't find it 35 years ago - it's an exquisite book. Tightly plotted with as fantastic a grip on history as The Second Sex, and one of the clearest expositions of Existentialist thought I have read, particularly of the futility of living for the future instead of the present (particularly the immortal future). In some respects it reminds me of other picaresque novels o Somehow I missed reading this book over the years, despite reading and re-reading most of de Beauvoir's output. I am so sorry I didn't find it 35 years ago - it's an exquisite book. Tightly plotted with as fantastic a grip on history as The Second Sex, and one of the clearest expositions of Existentialist thought I have read, particularly of the futility of living for the future instead of the present (particularly the immortal future). In some respects it reminds me of other picaresque novels of the mid-20th century, except with much better writing, characterisation and plotting.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    Reading this while the 'Twilight' craze fanned up around me was...interesting (I have a definite penchant for vampire drama, but not that...not that...). I think I inadvertently infused Fosco with a little flavor of Lestat. For those who like their vampire novels with less vampirism, more existential angst. A lot more. (DISCLAIMER: This novel contains no vampires nor references to vampires whatsoever.)

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