My essay on Simone de Beauvoir’s The Mandarins

My essay on Simone de Beauvoir’s Goncourt Prize winning novel The Mandarins was published early in 2020. Here’s the pdf. Note that there is a snafu with notes 22 and 23 in the wrong place (I only have a pdf of the proofs). The full reference is: Toril Moi, “Acknowledging the Other: Reading, Writing, and Living in The Mandarins,” Yale French Studies nos. 135 & 136 (2019): 100-115. (Special issue: “Existentialism, 70 Years After”, edited by Lauren du Graf, Julia Elsky, and Clémentine Fauré.)

Real Characters

This piece was published in The Point Magazine in January 2020. It shows how modern academic literary criticism came to accept as dogmatic the the idea that one must not treat characters as if they were real. It also shows that this taboo prevents us from understanding what is going on in the recent “existential turn”: writing in which characters are supposed to come across as real, ranging from Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle books to Elena Ferrante’s intensely psychological and historical Naples quartet. The essay is based on and continues work I did in Character: Three Inquiries in Literary Studies co-written with Rita Felski and Amanda Anderson (Chicago, 2019).

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