Beloved Chicago Man: Letters to Nelson Algren 1947‑64

Simone de Beauvoir

Published as A Transatlantic Love Affair in the US

it was bound to happen, and it was likely to be during the summer, that i would find many distractions from reading. it didn’t help to be in the midst of a 600-page book that at times doesn’t have a steady plot to pull itself along. maybe now my reading pace seems less horrifyingly fast than before.

i’ve never read a collection of letters before, and this is a good collection to read because there is somewhat of a narrative — the evolution of Simone and Nelson’s relationship. she also just writes beautiful letters, and i especially love the way she writes about Paris. the situation between Simone and Nelson is heartbreaking, tragic even. it’s clear that they love each other, but neither could move to be with the other because of their work. there are sad misunderstandings between them and eventually they cease all contact. it’s a shame that Nelson’s letters can’t be published along with these (it’s half-explained in the preface that the “project did not prove possible”); there are enough notes to get a good sense of what is going on with him and his statements and reactions.

i also tried to read The Mandarins by Simone, but i was just not in the mood for the density of her prose. a small part of the story is based on Nelson and her first meeting in Chicago.

anyway, please send suggestions of other collections of letters that i should get around to reading someday.