Julia Kristeva's dazzling fictional debut is an intellectual adventure, full of vitality, sensuousness, and sustained lyricism. Reminiscent of The Mandarins, Simone de Beauvoir's 1954 masterpiece, The Samurai brilliantly reconstructs a pivotal era of postwar French history - Paris in the late 1960s - and at the same time records the political disillusionment and ferment of a generation.
In a brisk narrative spanning three continents, the novel follows an array of passionate and promiscuous intellectual warriors - the "samurai" for whom "writing is the only lasting act of pleasure and war combined." Readers will instantly recognize finely sketched and often searing portraits of some of this century's most influential minds: Lacan, Derrida, Barthes, Althusser, and many others.
With an authorial voice that modulates between the erotic and the meditative, the ironic and the rancorous, The Samurai moves from Paris to Mao's China - where revolutionary idealism collides with cold pragmatism - to New York and back to Paris. Over a twenty-five year period, the characters experience countless battles involving love, depression, maternity, and disease, while the various themes of the text - language, prison, madness, emotional ruptures - are brought to fruition with astounding insight.
Kristeva's contributions to psychoanalysis, semiotics, and literary theory have earned her widespread international acclaim. Already published to positive reviews in France, this is a novel whose enormous energy derives from the juxtaposition of vital ideas set on a broad historical canvas. Fluid and captivating, The Samurai brilliantly illuminates both the constantly shifting terrain of human relationships and the manifold psychological entanglements of the Left Bank intellectuals. The result is a novel that will enhance Kristeva's stature as one of our most versatile and creative thinkers.