Left Bank

Left Bank coverLeft Bank: Art, Passion, and the Rebirth of Paris, 1940-50
Agnès Poirier
Henry Holt and Co. (February 13, 2018), 333 pages
Kindle edition $14.99, Amazon hardcover $19.47

Sometimes I read a book review and I know that book is the next book I have to read. I felt that way after reading the review of this book.

I was not disappointed. At the center of the book are the existentialists: Simone de Beauvoir, Jean Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus. Their activities occupy a good portion of the book. But there are a lot of other individuals who show up as well. The refugee from Eastern Europe, Arthur Koestler, plays an important role, as does the American novelist Saul Bellow, who moved to Paris after World War II. The African-American author Richard Wright and his family did the same. They weren’t existentialists, but they interacted with the existentialists and their lives were intertwined.

As the title indicates, the book covers the World War II era and the early postwar years. The author talks about those who stayed during the war, those who left (or like Sartre were sent to concentration camps), and those who arrived after the war. The work of these people had a profound impact on the intellectual life of the United States and Europe in the mid-twentieth century and the story told here is a fascinating one.

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