Thursday, 16 December 2010
All men are mortal (Beauvoir)
I picked up All men are mortal in the Notting Hill Books and Comics Exchange at the start of December - it is one of the newer VMCs which have only ever been published in a "modern" cover. It wasn't a book that I'd ever heard of, nor had I heard of the author, although my companion that day said that she was quite significant. When I looked her up, I realised that she was the author of the book The second sex - not something that I've read, but something which I know of.
All men are mortal was an intriguing read which I enjoyed very much - quite different to some of the Victorian and Edwardian VMCs.
It tells the story of a beautiful actress, Regina, desirous of fame and celebrity. When she encounters the man Fosca, and discovers that he is immortal, never having been able to die since his 13th century birth, she wonders whether she can make herself through her performances live forever by existing in his thoughts. This philosophical conundrum underpins the book. She then makes Fosca fall in love with her, in an attempt to get him to reveal the secret behind his immortality. But as their relationship grows and Fosca recounts his life, she learns that perhaps immortality is not what she anticipates; it has blemished Fosca's relationships and effectively isolated him. Immortality cannot live alongside the mortal. For Fosca, everything is essentially the same and insignificant now, whilst for Regina, even the trivial has meaning. It is a fascinating read which really challenges you to think about the nature of life, but it is also a very good novel.
There is also a film of the book, made in 1994, with Irene Jacob, Marianne Sagebrecht and Stephen Rea.