The MandarinsBook - 1957
In wartime Paris, a group of friends gather to celebrate the end of the German occupation and to plan their future. Henri, ex-Resistance fighter, is eager to resume his wife, to travel and to write a novel; Paula is convinced that she can revive her dying affair with Henri. Robert, a writer, is determined to enter politics whilst his psychiatrist wife, Anne, is deeply distracted by an affair with a young American; their daughter, Nadine feels only bitterness and disillusionment after the killing of her lover by the Germans.
Winner of the Prix Goncourt, 'The Mandarins' captures the dizzying sense of promise felt throughout France after liberation. Herself a central figure in the cultural life of the Left Bank, de Beauvoir punctuates the novel with wickedly accurate portraits of the intellectual giants of the time, including Sartre and Camus.
A remarkable book, a novel on the grand scale, courageous in its exactitude and endearing because of its persistent seriousness.IRIS MURDOCH, 'Sunday Times'
Simone de Beauvoir has given us a magnificent map of the mental terrain of French intellectualism. 'The Mandarins' is a window on the world through which we see and recognise not just the facts of a situation but the truth about it. Moving and engrossing.NEW YORK TIMES
An extremely important novel, 'The Mandarins' gives us a brilliant survey of the post-war French intellectual. Its sweep, its variety, its accuracy and its objectivity combine to present a dazzling panorama.NEW STATESMAN
In 'The Mandarins' the characters, especially the women, are uninhibited and sometimes predatory, the dialogues salty, frank and realistic. Their amorous adventures are set down with microscopic exactitude.GUARDIAN