FRENCH PHILOSOPHERS AND A CHICAGO WRITER. Nelson Algren’s relationship with Simone de Beauvoir involved him in her lifelong relationship with John-Paul Sartre. De Beauvoir and Sartre had entered into a pact soon after they met in 1929, and the pact lasted 51 years. It was Sartre who proposed the pact, and it was phrased in a philopher’s language. Louis Menand in this New Yorker article summarizes: “they could have affairs, but they were required to tell each other everything. As he put it to de Beauvoir: ‘What we have is an ESSENTIAL love; but it is a good idea for us also to experience CONTINGENT love affairs.’” (emphasis in original) Presumably the affair with Algren would have been one of the “contingent love affairs”. Sartre stopped sleeping with de Beauvoir, but they both had multiple affairs, and they had triangular affairs with young women. While they may not have told each other everything, they told each other a lot. Their letters, says Menand, are “filled with catty and disparaging remarks about the people Beauvoir and Sartre were either sleeping with or trying to sleep with.”

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