Nest of Vipers

Adieux: A Farewell to Sartre by Simone de Beauvoir; Pantheon, New York.

It may hurt, but it is useful to know that in matters of foreign translations available at our publishers and bookstores, we live in a well-guarded ghetto. There are protective turrets in the ghetto's wall, called Sartre, Beauvoir, Gunter Grass, Hein­ rich B6ll, Luigi Barzini, and a few Latin American Marxist writers whose works are eagerly bought by U.S. publishers, regardless of the rubbish they concoct. They are the foreign equivalent of, say, Norman Mailer. Since publishers hardly ever buy the rights to other non-English language books, we must live in a near­total ignorance of the truly important works---essays, novels, scholarship-appearing abroad. Browsing in bookstores from Paris to Budapest, then in New York or Chicago, is to step from a developed to an underdeveloped country.

This much to greet the publication of another futile book, Beauvoir's farewell to Sartre. To anybody but the snob or the entomologist, the reading of these dreary memoirs and records or conversation is a waste of time. A pair of rich, comfort­ loving bourgeois-the type they supposedly detested-are presented here by the more vicious member of the couple; the pages read as if they were written by a senile and dying British lord of the 19th century: both Simone and Jean-Paul are mostly drenched in whiskey, they hop...

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