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ALL MEN ARE MORTAL by Simone de Beauvoir


by Simone de Beauvoir

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 1954
ISBN: 0393308456
Publisher: World

This is another of Mme. de Beauvoir's long existentialist novels, and although a fantasy, far more believable and more interesting than last year's She Came To Stay. When Regina, a narcissist and an ambitious actress, finds that Fesca is immortal, she believes that through him she can make her beauty and talent live forever. In order to convince her of the uselessness of immortality, Fesca tells her his story. He was born in 1279 in Carmena, an imaginary Italian city state where, because he wanted to better the lot of his fellow citizens, he seized power and later- when one lifetime seemed too short for his purpose- drank a potion to make him immortal. Through various means he brought Carmena to eminence- only to find that in each case happiness died for his fellow men, for those he loved, and for himself. Turning to wider fields, he became guide and mentor to Charles V of Spain, and again found that his efforts turned to nothing with the horrors of the Reformation. Various other periods through which he lived, and experiences on many continents, all confirm the fact that he could not plan the good life and he learns, ever and ever in different ways, that since in the long run nothing mattered- "there is only one good; to act according to one's conscience". Though the message, which she preaches from time to time, is all important to the author, the best parts of the book (and there are many of them) are the sequences in which Fesca becomes deeply involved with other people, his son, the girl he loved, etc. These sections are vivid and moving and in combination with the existentialist panorama of history make the book well worth reading.