"A DISGRACEFUL AFFAIR: Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Bianca Lamblin" by Bianca Lamblin

"A DISGRACEFUL AFFAIR: Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Bianca Lamblin"

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A perversely prudish kiss-and-tell account by a Polish-born French woman who, as a Parisian schoolgirl in 1939, was seduced and abandoned by Sartre and also wooed by his erstwhile mate, her teacher. This is a whiny book. Though Lamblin insists that revenge is not her object, plainly it is--and if she were a better writer, that might be an enlivening motive. But in a paradox unlikely to entertain or edify the reader, Lamblin seeks to justify herself morally without confiding the full details of her story. Anyone looking for rounded portraits of the players will not find them here. Sartre (""a very poor lover"") seems to have been a cold, machinating bully who, at their first encounter, ""was wearing a sort of faded blue T-shirt of questionable cleanness. On his ill-favored face was a constellation of blackheads."" So why kiss him? De Beauvoir, known familiarly as ""the Beaver,"" comes off as selfish but less decisive; she remains a friend, kind of, to Lamblin for years after the triangular romance has ended. Their apparent villainy would be more interesting and acceptable if Lamblin had only revealed more about her dysfunctional existentialists. But, as though contrite in the act of exposure, she refuses to give the dirt, either sexual or cerebral. The best parts of the memoir concern her Jewish family's hardships as newcomers in France and as targets of wartime anti-Semitism. Otherwise, Lamblin's tense, humorless tirade tells little, though there are diverting moments of giddy, inadvertent camp: ""the Beaver had calves of steel,"" thanks to her hiking and biking habit. An enraged, high-minded squeal from an inamorata.

Pub Date: April 12th, 1996
Page count: 184pp
Publisher: Northeastern Univ.