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

Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me✻ [BOOKS] ✯ Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me By Deirdre Bair ❅ – Tbjewellers.co.uk 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 an National Book Award winning Samuel Beckett, ePUB ↠ 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 artInDeirdre Bair was a journalist and recently minted PhD who managed to secure access to Nobel Prize winning Parisian Lives: MOBI :´ author Samuel Beckett He agreed that she could write his biography despite never having written or even read a biography herself The next seven years of intimate conversations, intercontinental research, and peculiar cat and mouse games resulted in Samuel Beckett A Biography, which went on to win the National Book Award and propel Deirdre Lives: Samuel Beckett, PDF È to her next subject Simone de Beauvoir The catch De Beauvoir and Beckett despised each other and lived essentially on the same street While quite literally dodging one subject or the other, and sometimes hiding out in the backrooms of the great caf s of Paris, Bair learned that what works in terms of process for one biography rarely applies to the next Her seven year relationship with the domineering and difficult de Beauvoir required a radical change in approach, yielding another groundbreaking literary profile Drawing on Bair s extensive notes from the period, including never before told anecdotes and details that were considered impossible to publish at the time, Parisian Lives is full of personality and warmth and give us an entirely new window on the all too human side of these legendary thinkers.

Deirdre Bair received the Samuel Beckett, ePUB ↠ National Book Award for Samuel Beckett A Biography Her biographies of Simone de Beauvoir and Carl Jung were finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Simone de Beauvoir biography was chosen by The New York Times as a Best Book of the Year Her biographies of Parisian Lives: MOBI :´ Ana s Nin and Saul Steinberg were both New York Times Notable Books.

Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me
    Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me process for one biography rarely applies to the next Her seven year relationship with the domineering and difficult de Beauvoir required a radical change in approach, yielding another groundbreaking literary profile Drawing on Bair s extensive notes from the period, including never before told anecdotes and details that were considered impossible to publish at the time, Parisian Lives is full of personality and warmth and give us an entirely new window on the all too human side of these legendary thinkers."/>
  • Hardcover
  • 368 pages
  • Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me
  • Deirdre Bair
  • English
  • 20 March 2019
  • 0385542453

10 thoughts on “Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me

  1. says:

    Earlier this year, Michael Peppiatt s The Existential Englishman Paris Among the Artists was published the book displays namedropping and some Parisian famili res, 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 Wikiped Earlier this year, Michael Peppiatt s The Existential Englishman Paris Among the Artists was published the book displays namedropping and some Parisian famili res, 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 So you are the one who is going to reveal me for the charlatan that I am It was the first thing Samuel Beckett ever said to me on that bitter cold day, November 17, 1971, as we sat in the minuscule lobby of the H tel du Danube on the rue Jacob.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 All this went through my mind in a matter of seconds as I dropped my head into my hands and said, Oh dear I don t know if I m cut out for this biography business His demeanor changed immediately, as did his tone of voice Well, then, he replied, why don t we talk about it Reading about Bair s conquests with Beckett, it s easy to want to read her book about him What makes it eveninteresting is how Beckett didn t let her behind the scenes of his machinations Beckett was famous for never interpreting, analyzing, or explaining anything about his writings, particularly the plays Although he would discuss modes of interpretation, MacGowran said, Beckett always fell back on the same final comment when questions got too close to the one he hated most What did you mean when you wrote X He brought such discussions to a quick end with I would feel superior to my own work if I tried to explain it 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 Richard Ellmann, then at Yale, told me he would never grant me an interview because if he had anything to say about Beckett, he would write it himself.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.A cadre of Beckett specialists the Becketteers, as I called them all references to Mouseketeers are intentional , white men in secure academic positions of power and authority formed my primary opposition They were representative of a larger struggle in academia between the establishment and the perceived threat of women like me and my Danforth GFW colleagues, who were now competing for the same academic positions as the usual male candidates.For the Becketteers in particular, I was a brazen example, the mere girl who had invaded the sacrosanct turf of the Beckett world One or two younger members who were brave enough to speak to me privately asked if I was completely ignorant of the pecking order, while in public they shunned me so they could keep on the good side of the powers that be One of them surreptitiously motioned for me to join him as he sneaked behind a pillar in a hotel lobby at a Modern Language Association conference You are a pariah and I can t be seen talking to you, he said with a swagger, clearly feeling brave for engaging in this little clandestine conversation His childish glee left me unusually speechless and unable to think up a quick riposte.When I found my voice, I said I did not understand why I was being ostracized, since my two publications about Beckett had been received positively within the academic world Yes, this man said, in the academic world But that s not the Beckett world Then, Simone de Beauvoir.I love this part from Bair s initial meeting with de Beauvoir I began to make stuttering conversation, starting with my thanks that she would give me time on her birthday Her quizzical look as she replied let me know I was not making a very positive first impression Why not she said What is a birthday anyway but just another day I didn t know what to say to that, but she didn t pause long enough to let me answer as she asked, Shall we get to work I had assumed that this was to be a brief getting acquainted session and I had not brought anything with me I had no notebook or tape recorder, and I had not prepared any questions My only preparation had been to practice how to tell her, in my best French, that I had to go home on the twelfth to teach during the spring semester and would not be able to begin serious interviews until at least the summer, and then only if my schedule allowed enough time for me to prepare myself with serious reading and research during the term.I stammered something about how I did not wish to impose upon what I was sure would be a festive evening, so I had not brought any work materials with me She snorted in derision There was to be no celebration, she told me her friend Sylvie would be coming later with something for dinner, but until then we should probably get started I fished in my bag for something to write on and could find only my date book, so I pretended it was a notebook.I got a reprieve of sorts from asking questions because she launched right in to tell me how we were going to work I will talk, and I will tell you what has been important in my life all the things you need to know You can write them down, but you must also bring a tape recorder, and I will have one, too We can discuss what I tell you if you need me to explain it, and that will be the book you need to write That will be the one you publish I remember clearly how I lowered my head into my hands and said out loud, Oh dear I had the sinking sensation that the book was dead and done before I even got started What is the matter she demanded What is wrong I was so flustered that I could not think in French and asked her if I could reply in English She said of course, because she read and understood the language far better than she spoke it That is not how I worked with Samuel Beckett, I told her, and then I proceeded to explain how he had given me the freedom to do my research, conduct my interviews, and to write the book that I thought needed to be written.I told her how we had agreed that he would not read it before it was published, and I even told her how he had said he would neither help nor hinder me, which his family and friends interpreted as his agreement to cooperate fully I told her that, having worked in such extraordinary circumstances, I didn t see how I could work any other way I hoped that she would be generous and gracious enough to give me whatever help I asked for, but that she would also allow me the independence to construct a full and objective account of her life and work.The following paragraphs didn t surprise me in the least, given that de Beauvoir s one of the most notable existentialists And so we began I thought I would ease into my questioning by asking about her earliest childhood memories, but she went first because she wanted to thank me Women come from all over the world to write about me, but all they want to write about is The Second Sex Here she pounded one fist into the other open hand as she said, I wrote so much else I wrote philosophy, politics, fiction, autobiographyShe seemed to be pausing to catch her breath after every genre, and then she said, You are the only one who wants to write about everything Everyone else only wants to write about feminism It threw me off balance, but I did not have the luxury of reflecting on her generous appraisal until after I left, when I grasped the truth in it During the 1970s and 1980s she had been slotted into the niche of feminist icon all well and good, but she did not want to be there in perpetuity Aware of her many different contributions to culture and society and extremely proud of them, she wanted posterity to acknowledge all her accomplishments.I adore this quote from Beckett to Bair after she d mentioned the Becketteers I talked so much that my wineglass was left mostly untouched, but it was getting late, so I started to gather my things.Until then he had not said anything specific about the Becketteers behavior, but I think he was alluding to it when he volunteered one of the last things he ever said to me You must never explain You must never complain Indeed, there have been many times since then when I have been ready to lash out in retaliation for a bad review or an unkind comment, but every time I have remembered these words and I have never explained and never complained.I also loved what Bair wrote about writing a biography and trying to stay level headed in some way Joyce provided an example one that he cribbed from Flaubert, but never mind that I followed for everything I wrote The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails I did keep myself refined out of existence, but I was never indifferent and didn t bite my nails I just picked at my cuticles Pascal had the perfect pens e to help me open up and confide my own experiences to the permanence of print When he thought about how his life was swallowed upin the eternity that precedes and will follow it, he took fright When I began to write biography, I was, like Pascal, stunned to find myself here rather than elsewhereWho sent me here By whose order and under what guiding destiny was this time, this place, assigned to me It led me to ask myself what had ever made me think that Samuel Beckett needed a biography and I was the one to write it Saint Augustine provided the answer for what drew me to Beauvoir I had become a question to myself Not even I understand everything that I am And Rousseau gave me hope that sustained me during each biography, but especially within this bio memoir My purpose is to display a portrait in every way true to nature, and the person I portray will be myself Simply myself If I managed to do that, then I have succeeded, and I am content.In regards to this book, I hope Bair isthan 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

  2. says:

    3.5 stars As a biographer s memoir of her time spent with two of the most influential cultural figures of the 20th century, Parisian Lives holds exactly the kind of novelty and allure that I find hard to resist Both Beckett and Beauvoir produced works that brought about massive shifts in literary, cultural, and political attitudes throughout the west, and continue to remain relevant and highly revered to this day But what unites these two very different people, who happened to dislike each ot 3.5 stars As a biographer s memoir of her time spent with two of the most influential cultural figures of the 20th century, Parisian Lives holds exactly the kind of novelty and allure that I find hard to resist Both Beckett and Beauvoir produced works that brought about massive shifts in literary, cultural, and political attitudes throughout the west, and continue to remain relevant and highly revered to this day But what unites these two very different people, who happened to dislike each other even as they lived by some estimates at the opposite ends of the same street, is biography or rather their biographer, Deirdre Bair, whose unique experience of working with them as a complete novice to the genre is what made me dive hook, line, and sinker into this book.While I don t particularly recommend Bair s style of writing, which struck me as a bit too impersonal for a memoir of these proportions, I foundParisian Livesenjoyable on the whole As a book that isn t entirely about Beckett and Beauvoir, it reveals them in a humane and humanising light that s rare to find in the existing scholarship on their lives and work him with his silences and strictly controlled relationships her with her doubts, discontent, and unacknowledged greatness Whereas the writing of Beckett s biography an ambitious project, the first of its kind and also her very first attempt at writing one takes up nearly two thirds of this book, the account of working with Beauvoir reveals a deeper emotional connect in addition to further insights on the past Journeying through the process of writing about these living giants albeit amidst much difference of personality and circumstance Bair also offers valuable insight into the nature of Biography itself, of what writing one can take and take away.However, what I found most valuable in this book is what it says about the way women in writing were treated in the 70s and 80s While Beauvoir was either ill regarded after Sartre s death or reduced to a feminist icon Bair had to struggle through much ostracisation, hostility, innuendo, and academic politics at the hands of institutions, individuals, the all male canon of Beckett scholars, and many others who disregarded her merits and capabilities on account of her sex, and on plenty of occassions tried to discredit her Parisian Lives, in many ways, also reveals the kind of pressures both psychological and otherwise which women had to endure at the time of the second wave, where they can have it all, but only after they agreed to do it all

  3. says:

    Deirdre Bair has written a bookabout the process of writing two other books about people who wrote a lot of books And that, my friends, is just too much excavation for my simple brain to endure If you re interested in how one goes about writing biographies, this might interest you I think I d rather just read the actual biographies she wrote, one of which won the National Book Award Samuel Beckett Deirdre Bair has written a bookabout the process of writing two other books about people who wrote a lot of books And that, my friends, is just too much excavation for my simple brain to endure If you re interested in how one goes about writing biographies, this might interest you I think I d rather just read the actual biographies she wrote, one of which won the National Book Award Samuel Beckett

  4. says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed Deirdre Bair s memoir of her years writing her first 2 biographies, of Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir An important part of her early story is that she d never written a biography before Especially not a heavy duty one like Beckett s would require So she had to learn as she progressed I remember knowing at the time that someone was writing his biography and had even read that there was some resistance to it from Beckett himself That wasn t exactly true Bair write I thoroughly enjoyed Deirdre Bair s memoir of her years writing her first 2 biographies, of Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir An important part of her early story is that she d never written a biography before Especially not a heavy duty one like Beckett s would require So she had to learn as she progressed I remember knowing at the time that someone was writing his biography and had even read that there was some resistance to it from Beckett himself That wasn t exactly true Bair writes that while he didn t wholeheartedly approve of her researching his life and work, he did cooperate when he was available His reluctance was felt in his tyrannical hold on friends and family whose interviews and letters she needed Each trip to Paris and Dublin unfolded almost as adventure Her accounts of meeting the individuals in the huge cast of characters making up the Beckett circle are engaging And in the years of research and writing she had to travel back and forth between Dublin and Paris and Philadelphia where she was teaching at the University of Pennsylvania while juggling a full family life at the same time.Simone de Beauvoir was an easier subject, if temperamental De Beauvoir had admired Bair s biography of Beckett and welcomed the book she d write about her Bair was attracted to de Beauvoir as subject because she held her work promoting feminism in high esteem In fact, Bair references her feminist sympathies many times in the book She s sprung from the feminist seed de Beauvoir has sown, and that can t be a bad thing.Part of Bair s story also relates the ups and downs of her personal academic career While she wrote the 2 biographies she was struggling for tenure and a full professorship During the writing of her Beckett book, and after, she had to tolerate a certain amount of disparagement from other Beckett scholars and from male academics in general who thought she was intruding into their scholastic bailiwick and overstepping her own qualifications Most of the time she holds her own against the slings and arrows and snubs.Of the 2 biographies that are her subject here, I was eager for that on Beckett, way back many years ago I liked it Later I read the biography James Knowlson wrote he was one of those who snubbed Bair and thought it perhaps treated him a little too gently I preferred Bair s book I haven t read her biography of de Beauvoir, but now I think I will.In the meantime I appreciate her memoir of the years spent writing the 2 biographies Her experiences and her views gained from her work are always interesting And her observations of Beckett and de Beauvoir and those who were part of their stories are probably invaluable to anyone interested in them Good book

  5. says:

    WOW a memoir of a biographer of some of the most prominent thinkers and writers of the 20th century this was such a unique reading experience so many details, observations, and revelations LOVED IT

  6. says:

    Obviously I would need to start a different set of folders, and I went right out to buy them The only color I had not yet used was purple, so green gave way to purple and that s what the final version became You guys, this is the start of a chapter, and a perfect illustration at how dull this memoir is It s about her process writing two famous biographies Don t get me wrong, it has it moments, but overall I cannot recommend I don t understand why it s called Parisian Lives as there is s Obviously I would need to start a different set of folders, and I went right out to buy them The only color I had not yet used was purple, so green gave way to purple and that s what the final version became You guys, this is the start of a chapter, and a perfect illustration at how dull this memoir is It s about her process writing two famous biographies Don t get me wrong, it has it moments, but overall I cannot recommend I don t understand why it s called Parisian Lives as there is so little of Paris here There is no sense of place whatsoever It should have been called Validating Source Material or Reconciling Versions of Events In the first half when she is writing Beckett s biography, the text is dominated with tedious and arbitrary name drops Perhaps this would be interesting if you were heavily aware of actors, publishers and poets in 1970s Europe In one page alone I count 12 name drops Nathalie Sarraute, Maurice Girodias, Iris Owens, Richard Seaver, Austryn Wainhouse, Jane Lougee, Alexander Trocchi, Christopher Logue, Jack Kahane, Hugh Guiler, Henry Miller, Anais Nin They are just names, no character sketches or context There s some interesting stuff for sure The stories of the misogyny she dealt with in academic circles in both American and Europe are infuriating There s some interesting Simone de Beauvior stuff But overall there s too much detail about note taking, travel arrangements, interview delays, etc

  7. says:

    One of the better memoirs I ve read about writing, without excessively glorifying the writing process as so many authors do when reflecting on their craft.

  8. says:

    Deirdre Bair s memoir is the interrelated stories of writing biographies of Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir and Bair s own journey of discovery while launching her academic career, a process often in conflict with her success writing biographies that became blockbuster successes It is a fascinating tale of how to research and write biography while observing that the process of researching and writing about great writers itself brings stunning growth and insight to the author The reader g Deirdre Bair s memoir is the interrelated stories of writing biographies of Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir and Bair s own journey of discovery while launching her academic career, a process often in conflict with her success writing biographies that became blockbuster successes It is a fascinating tale of how to research and write biography while observing that the process of researching and writing about great writers itself brings stunning growth and insight to the author The reader gets to share in this journey of personal revelation.What Bair achieved by writing great biography was to reach rather different heights from the rather pedestrian hills of normal academic life, even that of life at a top university That is mostly because the biographies themselves turned out to have such reach.The stories relating to both Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir are different but equally compelling These stories are page turners, full of fascination The saga of the McGreevy letters illuminating troubling aspects of Becket s sexual tensions and conflicts reads like the high stakes drama it was If there is one surprising thing, it is the smallness of so many people in the entourages surrounding the towering personalities and some of the large and generous personalities in the same social solar system A lot of these mini tales make amusing reading about human vanity others provide gripping reading This is about research in the real world of challenging people, not turning the pages in the special collections reading room.There is an undertone throughout that Bair clearly delineates One is the extensive sexual harassment she encountered, which although distasteful she swats away The other is gender discrimination of men s privileged position and women being out of their station Less raunchy and distasteful but potentiallyinvidious So Bair seems to be navigating continuously between the crashing breakers of one and the whirlpools of the other therefore the odyssey.The final chapters of the Beauvoir story, and Jean Paul Satre, are riveting, shocking, and will change how one looks at these two luminaries In Beauvoir s case, her work is a substantial accomplishment above and beyond her personal shortcomings and gives her legacy the greatness that her growing reputation is earning her work But for the two existentialists, when the candles burned brightly, they burned.And of course lots of lovely vignettes about Paris, a city of burning candles

  9. says:

    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

  10. says:

    Bair s memoir is her howdunnit take on the process of writing two biographies Not two ordinary biographies but biographies of two of the most influential writers and thinkers of the twentieth century and, each in their own way notoriously difficult characters.This is not, as the title would suggest, a story in which Paris itself is a dominant character Certainly, much of it is set in Paris but we are not there for the stunning urban vistas, the coffee, the je ne c est pas We are there for i Bair s memoir is her howdunnit take on the process of writing two biographies Not two ordinary biographies but biographies of two of the most influential writers and thinkers of the twentieth century and, each in their own way notoriously difficult characters.This is not, as the title would suggest, a story in which Paris itself is a dominant character Certainly, much of it is set in Paris but we are not there for the stunning urban vistas, the coffee, the je ne c est pas We are there for interviews Beckett had moved permanently to Paris from Dublin in 1937 38 , meetings and research If you are interested at all in writing a biography this is an excellent primer in the art though the faint of heart will be put off The naivete with which Bair, who trained as a journalist, sets out to write Beckett s biography is simply astonishing Beckett, jealously guarded by his circles of friends, had never consented previously to work with any biographer But, because no one told Bair that it couldn t be done Bair made the impossible happen.Bair acknowledges her luck Her training in journalism imbued her with writing discipline and her need for a graduate program presented itself serendipitously beginning her research in medieval studies she decided to write about a twentieth century author Of those she was interested in writing about Beckett s name popped up alphabetically before Joseph Conrad s Her proposal of writing Beckett s biography was accepted s o you are the one who is going to reveal me for the charlatan that I am.The story that unfolds is a wonderfully written tale of excitement, despair, disillusion and success as Bair navigates the boundaries that both subjects but Beckett in particular protect themselves with If there is one criticism that could be made it s that Beckett s story seems to overshadow that of de Beauvoir s somewhat In a sense, this cannot be helped Beckett s biography was the first written and his story intertwines with that of de Beauvoir s The two did not get along after she refused to publish the second part of Beckett s short storySuite in Les Temps modernes the first half had been published in 1946 Whilst writing de Beauvior s biography Beckett was still living in Paris and Bair was keen for her two projects to not intermingle Beckett s shadow lingers in the latter part of the book in a way that de Beauvoir does not in the first part Despite the issues Bair has with both of her subjects it is apparent that there is much affection for her subjects especially de Beauvoir In Bair s last meeting with her de Beauvoir didn t live to see the biography published Bair wrote that t his time, tiny woman that she was, she reached up out and half embraced me, tall woman that I am, by placing her hands around my upper arms and giving me a brisk shake This is an exceptionally well written work It stimulates interest in the two subjects to the extent that the reader will want to find outabout their extraordinary lives And what better way to do so than to read Bair s biographies

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