Books: Existentialist Methuselah

ALL MEN ARE MORTAL (345 pp.)—Simone de Beauvoir-World ($5).

The 14th century conspirators surged into the palace bellowing, "Death to the tyrant!" Count Fosca (the tyrant in question) whipped out his sword and skewered the ringleader. Seconds later, Fosca felt "a sharp pain between my ribs," but instead of dropping down dead, he only spitted another brace of gizzards. Three hundred years later, the same Count Fosca "shot myself in the chest and then in the mouth"; 300 years after that, still going strong, he drew a razor across his throat, but "the lips...

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