Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me

Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me

National Book Award-winning biographer Deirdre Bair explores her fifteen remarkable years in Paris with Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir, painting intimate new portraits of two literary giants and revealing secrets of the biographical art.In 1971 Deirdre Bair was a journalist and recently minted Ph.D. who managed to secure access to Nobel Prize-winning author Samuel...

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Title:Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me
Author:Deirdre Bair
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Edition Language:English

Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me Reviews

  • Marvin Fender

    I received this book from the Goodreads Giveaway program. The stories told in this biography/memoir/creative process compilation is very unusual and entertaining. I really like good biographies and memoirs that are told well and have enlightening information and this book delivers. Ms Bair has a very wonderful way of keeping a vast amount of history and personal information flowing and compelling you to read further. You also find empathy for her and her subjects caught in a candid look at a

    I received this book from the Goodreads Giveaway program. The stories told in this biography/memoir/creative process compilation is very unusual and entertaining. I really like good biographies and memoirs that are told well and have enlightening information and this book delivers. Ms Bair has a very wonderful way of keeping a vast amount of history and personal information flowing and compelling you to read further. You also find empathy for her and her subjects caught in a candid look at a living persons intricate life. "Parisian Lives:" is a remarkable and enjoyable look a three very interesting and colorful people plus a lesson in how absorbing and consuming a biographers life can be. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes biography and writing done superbly.

  • Rose

    "Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me: A Memoir" is a beautifully written book that pulls you in slowly but deeply. It isn't just about writing about two famous authors but the memoir writer's life as well and what it takes to be a biographer. I would recommend this book to fans of Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, as well as biographies in general.

    I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased

    "Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me: A Memoir" is a beautifully written book that pulls you in slowly but deeply. It isn't just about writing about two famous authors but the memoir writer's life as well and what it takes to be a biographer. I would recommend this book to fans of Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, as well as biographies in general.

    I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.

  • Marietje

    How does an author go about writing a biography of a well known subject, while refraining from judgement, creating controversy, maintaining a good working relationship with the subject and the people around them? In this "bio-memoir Deirdre Bair relates her experiences, struggles and reactions while first compiling the biography of Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir.

    It was a revelation for me to see how much time, money, effort and negotiating goes into the research for a biography. This is a

    How does an author go about writing a biography of a well known subject, while refraining from judgement, creating controversy, maintaining a good working relationship with the subject and the people around them? In this "bio-memoir Deirdre Bair relates her experiences, struggles and reactions while first compiling the biography of Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir.

    It was a revelation for me to see how much time, money, effort and negotiating goes into the research for a biography. This is a book about Bair herself, not about Beckett or de Beauvoir. I read it as a personal memoir , and as such it is engaging, honest and important.

    I received this book in a giveaway, and I am glad to have read it.

  • Niklas Pivic

    Earlier this year, Michael Peppiatt’s The Existential Englishman: Paris Among the Artists was published; the book displays namedropping and some Parisian familières, and ended up as quite the end note of what can be written about celebrities, and Paris. It is the kind of book that most people will forget about when asked of their favourite autobiographies, six months after having read it.

    Enter Deirdre Bair.

    I did not know of her before reading this book; I’d not even read her biography on

    Earlier this year, Michael Peppiatt’s The Existential Englishman: Paris Among the Artists was published; the book displays namedropping and some Parisian familières, and ended up as quite the end note of what can be written about celebrities, and Paris. It is the kind of book that most people will forget about when asked of their favourite autobiographies, six months after having read it.

    Enter Deirdre Bair.

    I did not know of her before reading this book; I’d not even read her biography on Wikipedia.

    The start of the book is catchy without trying to be too engaging. It’s clear that the writer is both experienced and knows rhythm; if writing a book is similar to pacing oneself for running a marathon well, this one holds up almost throughout.

    Almost.

    Somewhere between meeting Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir, there is a lull. It is slight, and on the whole can be forgotten. This is my only complaint about the book, and mind you, I’m reviewing an uncorrected advance copy of the book.

    Au contraire, Bair writes of her own family in a commendable way, never delving into the sappy or drab. Professing the same kind of verve, she describes her own problems with deciding to become a biographer without knowing how to become one. She even asked Beckett how to, in a roundabout way:

    Reading about Bair’s conquests with Beckett, it’s easy to want to read her book about him. What makes it even more interesting is how Beckett didn’t let her behind the scenes of his machinations:

    It’s clear to the reader—without Bair trying to blow her own trumpet—that the author has jumped through quite a few hoops to have her Beckett biography published, by Jove. It’s even impressive that she contacted Richard Ellman, who’d had his own Beckett biography published before Bair did hers:

    It’s easy to think back to those days when readers were everywhere, publishing houses possessed greater cultural power than they do today, and how authors were discussed by multitudes of people while they were writing novels. It’s also, sadly, easy to consider how Bair was subject to abject sexism, which led to rumours being spread, which, in turn, nearly led to her book not being published.

    Then, Simone de Beauvoir.

    I love this part from Bair’s initial meeting with de Beauvoir:

    The following paragraphs didn’t surprise me in the least, given that de Beauvoir’s one of the most notable existentialists:

    I adore this quote from Beckett to Bair after she’d mentioned the “Becketteers”:

    I also loved what Bair wrote about writing a biography and trying to stay level-headed in some way:

    In regards to this book, I hope Bair is more than content. She should be, I think. Then again, I was born just before her Beckett biography was published. This book contains many pointers to what a writer—biographer or not—should consider.

    First and foremost, this book is a tale of the ups and downs of writing about human beings, and what those human beings bring to the table while and how you write about this. This is a laudable and highly recommendable memorial of extraordinary times in the life of a very considerate and apparently skilled biographer.

  • Amy

    This was a Goodreads giveaway that, quite frankly, I entered because of Parisian and Simone de Beauvoir being in the title. After finishing it, I'm embarrassed I knew so little beforehand about Samuel Beckett, nor claimed his name as being the biggest reason for my entering.

    Still, truth be told, the second half of the book which focused almost solely on De Beauvoir held me captivated until the very last page in a way the Beckett section did not.

    The Beckett section, while mostly interesting,

    This was a Goodreads giveaway that, quite frankly, I entered because of Parisian and Simone de Beauvoir being in the title. After finishing it, I'm embarrassed I knew so little beforehand about Samuel Beckett, nor claimed his name as being the biggest reason for my entering.

    Still, truth be told, the second half of the book which focused almost solely on De Beauvoir held me captivated until the very last page in a way the Beckett section did not.

    The Beckett section, while mostly interesting, was a bit bogged down in parts when filled with what seemed to be Bair's regrets and the feeling that the author was trying to prove to herself and her critics that all she did was above board. In contrast, her reminisces of De Beauvoir felt less self-conscious.

    Overall, this bio-memoir reminded me, nostalgically, of the thoughtful memoirs/biographies read in my early women's studies courses years ago as an undergrad; with so much talk by Bair about the stirrings of feminism and consciousness raising (by a white upper middle class woman) amongst the sexist 1970s and 1980s.

    3.5

  • Paul Wilner

    Engaging account of the author's successful bearding of two literary giants, with autobiographical diversions into the pettiness and sexism of literary and academic politics. I came away with the feeling that she may have respected Beckett more as an artist but connected with de Beauvoir, for all her difficulties, more as a person.

    That said, it was a bit disappointing not to see more material on each of their actual work, which is mentioned in passing, in Beckett's case, and focused primarily

    Engaging account of the author's successful bearding of two literary giants, with autobiographical diversions into the pettiness and sexism of literary and academic politics. I came away with the feeling that she may have respected Beckett more as an artist but connected with de Beauvoir, for all her difficulties, more as a person.

    That said, it was a bit disappointing not to see more material on each of their actual work, which is mentioned in passing, in Beckett's case, and focused primarily on "The Second Sex'' for deBeauvoir. I know she has a massive, award-winning biography of Beckett out - I just checked it out from the library - and I'm sure this material is dealt with in depth there. But it would have been worth seeing more of it here, in both of their cases, along with more serious quotation of their actual words, which is what drew everyone's attention, including Bair's, in the first place.

    Still, worth reading for the depictions of the authors, the complex tasks of the biographer, and her honest accounts of her own struggles. But...the prose is pedestrian, off-putting when you consider the artistry of those she is writing about, which perhaps presages some of the critiques that have been made against her biographies, particularly of Beckett.

  • Jeimy

    I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I have, but it was interesting to learn how Bair's unconventional approach to biography writing, brought her fame (and infamy) after years of painstaking research into Beckett's life and how that acclaim led her to write a biography about de Beauvoir as well.

  • Michaela

    ---Full disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ---

    ---Full disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ---

  • Aria

    Dnf ~ p. 75 or 78.

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