Synopses & Reviews
In 1947, Simone de Beauvoir met Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Nelson Algren in Chicago, and it was love at first sight. A passionate affair ensued, spanning 20 years and four continents in an era when a transatlantic flight took 24 hours and overseas telephone calls were a luxury. A Transatlantic Love Affair collects the more than 300 love letters written in English by de Beauvoir to Algren. Unique among the prolific correspondence de Beauvoir conducted throughout her life, these letters involved someone not at all of her world. De Beauvoir was forced to explain to Algren everything that usually went without saying: her background, her life in Paris, and the political situation in Paris. The result is a cross between a personal memoir and an insider's intellectual history of Left Bank life in postwar Paris, populated with luminaries including Albert Camus, Truman Capote, Colette, Alberto Giacometti, Margaret Mead, and Richard Wright.
"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." Publishers Weekly
"[Offers] a fresh and often disturbing perspective on the complex development of her feminism." The Women's Review of Books
"It was obvious that Simone de Beauvoir was crazy about Nelson Algren: She laughed at all his jokes, even though she didn't always understand. And some were pretty bad. In Chicago, Paris, and other such exotic outposts, they danced a goofy, delightful pas de deux. But I had no idea her feelings ran so deep until I read these passionate and revelatory letters. Boy, oh boy." Studs Terkel
"The most interesting thing about A Transatlantic Love Affair [is] the light it sheds on the book that marked the beginning of the modern women's movement....Beauvoir's letters are fascinating." New Yorker
"Enchanting, generous, and passionately relaxed....[De Beauvoir] lives more fully in these pages than in anything else of hers I've read." Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Tender and intimate passages are intermixed with artistic and political observations to create an exceptionally involving volume." Booklist
Called "intimate, intelligent, and sincere" by The New Yorker, the more than 300 love letters written by Beauvoir to Algren after their love-at-first-sight meeting in 1947 are collected for the first time. 16 photos.
About the Author
Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) is best known for her existentialist and feminist writing, including The Second Sex, The Mandarins (winner of the Prix Goncourt), The Coming of Age, and America Day by Day. Editor of the monthly Paris review Les Temps Modernes with her lifelong companion, writer and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, she met novelist Nelson Algren (1909-1981), author of Never Come Morning, The Man With the Golden Arm (winner of the National Book Award), The Neon Wilderness, and A Walk on the Wild Side, in Chicago in 1947.