The Full Wiki

Simone de Beauvoir: Wikis

  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir
Full name Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir
Born January 9, 1908(1908-01-09)
Paris, France
Died April 14, 1986 (aged 78)
Paris, France
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Existentialism
Feminism
Western Marxism
Main interests Politics, Feminism, Ethics
Notable ideas ethics of ambiguity, feminist ethics, existential feminism
"La Beauvoir" redirects here; also see: Beauvoir (disambiguation).

Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir, called Simone de Beauvoir (French pronunciation: [simɔn də boˈvwaʀ]) (January 9, 1908 – April 14, 1986), was a French writer, existentialist philosopher, feminist, Marxist, Maoist[1] and social theorist. She wrote novels, monographs on philosophy, politics, and social issues, essays, biographies, and an autobiography in several volumes. She is now best known for her metaphysical novels, including She Came to Stay and The Mandarins, and for her 1949 treatise The Second Sex, a detailed analysis of women's oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism. She is also noted for her lifelong polyamorous relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre.

Contents

Early years

Family

Simone de Beauvoir was the oldest daughter of Georges Bertrand de Beauvoir, a one-time lawyer and amateur actor, and Françoise Brasseur, a young woman from Verdun.[2] She was born in Paris as Simone (a then-chic name her father liked)-Lucie (for her mother's mother)-Ernestine (for her father's father, Ernest-Narcisse)-Marie (for the Virgin Mary) Bertrand de Beauvoir (she was taught as a child to give her name as simply "Simone de Beauvoir").[3] She was an attractive but a spoiled child who had tantrums to get her way, and who was the center of attention in her family.[4] Her mother wasn't a great seamstress, and the clothes she sewed unfortunately were ill-fitting.[5] Growing up, Beauvoir had no friends except her sister Hélène, who was two and a half years younger and with whom she was close.[6]

Her family had been middle-class.[7] In 1909, Beauvoir's maternal grandfather Gustave Brasseur, president of the Meuse Bank, went bankrupt, throwing his entire family into dishonor and poverty. Georges and Françoise were not paid her dowry.[8] The family eventually had to move into a smaller apartment.[9] Georges de Beauvoir had to go back to work although work didn't suit him.[10] The family struggled throughout the girls' childhood to keep their place in the bourgeoisie,[11] and Georges said often, "You girls will never marry, because you will have no dowry".[12]

Beauvoir was always aware that her father had hoped to have a son, instead of two daughters.[13] He would say, "Simone thinks like a man!" which pleased her greatly,[14] and from a young age Beauvoir was a distinguished student. Georges de Beauvoir passed his love of theater and literature to his daughter.[15] He became convinced that only scholarly success could lift his daughters out of poverty.[12] (Hélène became a painter.[16])

Education

She became an awkward adolescent and attached herself completely to books and learning, and chose to ignore sports because she was unathletic.[17] She and her sister were educated at the Institut Adeline Désir,[18] or Cour Désir,[19] a Catholic school for girls, something that was looked down on by the intellectuals at the time. The Catholic schools for girls were seen as places where the young were taught one of the two alternatives open to women: marriage or a convent.[19] Her mother, who Beauvoir considered an intruder spying on her every move,[20] attended classes with them, sitting behind them, as most mothers were expected to do.[19] There Beauvoir met her best friend, Elisabeth Le Coin (ZaZa in Beauvoir's memoirs).[21] Simone loved school and she graduated in 1924 with "distinction".[22]

At 15, Beauvoir had already decided she would be a writer. Jacques Champigneulle became her intellectual mentor and friend, one whom her mother had hoped she would marry.[23] Geraldine Paro (GéGé) and Estepha Awdykovicz (Stépha) became her girlfriends.[24]

After passing the baccalaureate exams in mathematics and philosophy, she studied mathematics at the Institut Catholique and literature/languages at the Institut Sainte-Marie, then philosophy at the University of Paris (Sorbonne). In 1929, while at the Sorbonne, Beauvoir gave a presentation on Leibniz. There she met many other young intellectuals, including Maurice Merleau-Ponty,[25] René Maheu[26] and Jean-Paul Sartre. While at the Sorbonne, Maheu gave Beauvoir her lifelong nickname, Castor, the French word for "beaver", given to her because of the animal's strong work ethic.[27] In 1929, at the age of 21, Beauvoir became the youngest person ever to obtain the agrégation in philosophy, and the 9th woman to obtain this degree. On the final examination she received second place; Sartre, age 24, was first (he'd failed his first exam). The jury for the agrégation argued over whether to give Sartre or Beauvoir first place in the competition. In the end they awarded it to Sartre.[28]

Sartre

Sartre was dazzlingly intelligent and was just under 5 feet (1.5 m) tall.[29] He allowed Beauvoir to talk about herself.[30] During October 1929, the two became a couple and Sartre asked her to marry him.[31] One day while they were sitting on a bench outside the Louvre, he said, "Let's sign a two-year lease".[32] Near the end of her life, Beauvoir said, "Marriage was impossible. I had no dowry." So they became an imaginary married couple.[33] Beauvoir, whose private life came to be admired nearly as much as her work, chose to never marry and did not set up a joint household with Sartre.[34] She never had children.[34] This gave her time to earn an advanced academic degree, to join political causes and to travel, write, teach, and to have (male and female - the latter often shared) lovers.[1] [35] A number of de Beauvoir's young female lovers were underage, and the nature of some of these relationships, some of which she instigated while working as a school teacher, has lead to biographical controversy and debate over whether de Beauvoir had inclinations towards paedophilia.[36][37][38][39] De Beauvoir would, along with other French intellectuals, later petition for abolishment of age of consent laws in France.[40][41][42]

Middle years

She Came to Stay and The Mandarins

In 1943, Beauvoir published She Came to Stay, a fictionalized chronicle of her and Sartre's relationship with Olga Kosakiewicz and Wanda Kosakiewicz. Olga was one of her students in the Rouen secondary school where Beauvoir taught during the early 30s. She grew fond of Olga. Sartre tried to pursue Olga but she denied him; he began a relationship with her sister Wanda instead. Sartre supported Olga for years until she met and married her husband, Beauvoir's lover Jacques-Laurent Bost. At Sartre's death, he was still supporting Wanda. In the novel, set just before the outbreak of World War II, Beauvoir makes one character from the complex relationships of Olga and Wanda. The fictionalized versions of Beauvoir and Sartre have a ménage à trois with the young woman. The novel also delves into Beauvoir and Sartre's complex relationship and how it was affected by the ménage à trois.

Beauvoir's metaphysical novel She Came to Stay was followed by many others, including The Blood of Others which explores the nature of individual responsibility, and The Mandarins, which won her the Prix Goncourt, France's highest literary prize. The Mandarins is set just after the end of World War II. The Mandarins depicted Sartre, Nelson Algren, and many philosophers and friends among Sartre and Beauvoir's intimate circle.

Existentialist ethics

In 1944 Beauvoir wrote Pyrrhus et Cinéas, a discussion of an existentialist ethics, which inspired her to write more on the subject. This book, Pour Une Morale de L'ambiguïté (The Ethics of Ambiguity, 1947) is perhaps the most accessible entry into French existentialism. Its simplicity keeps it understandable, in contrast to the abstruse character of Sartre's Being and Nothingness. The ambiguity about which Beauvoir writes clears up some inconsistencies that many, Sartre included, have found in major existentialist works such as Being and Nothingness.

Les Temps Modernes

At the end of World War II, Beauvoir and Sartre edited Les Temps Modernes, a political journal Sartre founded along with Maurice Merleau-Ponty and others. Beauvoir used Les Temps Modernes to promote her own work and explore her ideas on a small scale before fashioning essays and books. Beauvoir remained an editor until her death.

Sexuality, existentialist feminism, and The Second Sex

The Second Sex cover

Chapters of Le deuxième sexe (The Second Sex) were originally published in Les Temps modernes.[43] The second volume came a few months after the first in France.[44] These works were very quickly published in America as The Second Sex, due to the quick translation by Howard Parshley, as prompted by Blanche Knopf, wife of publisher Alfred A. Knopf. Because Parshley had only a basic familiarity with the French language, and a minimal understanding of philosophy (he was a professor of biology at Smith College), much of Beauvoir's book was mistranslated or inappropriately cut, distorting her intended message.[45] For years Knopf prevented the introduction of a more accurate retranslation of Beauvoir's work, declining all proposals despite the efforts of existentialist scholars.[45] Only in 2009 was there a second translation, to mark the 60th anniversary of the original publication. Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier produced the first integral translation, reinstating a third of the original work.

In her own way, Beauvoir anticipated the sexually charged feminism of Erica Jong and Germaine Greer. Algren, no example of restraint, was outraged by the frank way Beauvoir later described her American sexual experiences in The Mandarins (dedicated to Algren, on whom the character Lewis Brogan was based) and in her autobiographies. He vented his outrage when reviewing American translations of her work. Much material bearing on this episode in Beauvoir's life, including her love letters to Algren, entered the public domain only after her death.

In the chapter "Woman: Myth and Reality" of The Second Sex, Beauvoir argued that men had made women the "Other" in society by putting a false aura of "mystery" around them. She argued that men used this as an excuse not to understand women or their problems and not to help them, and that this stereotyping was always done in societies by the group higher in the hierarchy to the group lower in the hierarchy. She wrote that this also happened on the basis of other categories of identity, such as race, class, and religion. But she said that it was nowhere more true than with sex in which men stereotyped women and used it as an excuse to organize society into a patriarchy.

The Second Sex, published in French, sets out a feminist existentialism which prescribes a moral revolution. As an existentialist, Beauvoir believed that existence precedes essence; hence one is not born a woman, but becomes one. Her analysis focuses on the Hegelian concept of the Other. It is the (social) construction of Woman as the quintessential Other that Beauvoir identifies as fundamental to women's oppression. The capitalized 'O' in "other" indicates the wholly other.

Beauvoir argued that women have historically been considered deviant, abnormal. She said that even Mary Wollstonecraft considered men to be the ideal toward which women should aspire. Beauvoir said that this attitude limited women's success by maintaining the perception that they were a deviation from the normal, and were always outsiders attempting to emulate "normality". She believed that for feminism to move forward, this assumption must be set aside.

Beauvoir asserted that women are as capable of choice as men, and thus can choose to elevate themselves, moving beyond the 'immanence' to which they were previously resigned and reaching 'transcendence', a position in which one takes responsibility for oneself and the world, where one chooses one's freedom.

A critical essay, "Le Malentendu du Deuxième Sexe", was written by Suzanne Lilar in 1969.

Later years

Antonio Núñez Jiménez, Beauvoir, Sartre and Che Guevara in Cuba, 1960

Beauvoir wrote popular travel diaries about her travels in the United States and China, and published essays and fiction rigorously, especially throughout the 1950s and 1960s. She published several volumes of short stories, including The Woman Destroyed, which, like some of her other later work, deals with aging.

In 1979 she published When Things of the Spirit Come First, a set of short stories centered around and based upon women important to her earlier years. The stories were written well before the novel She Came to Stay, but Beauvoir did not think they were worthy of publication until about forty years later.

Sartre and Merleau-Ponty had a longstanding feud, which led Merleau-Ponty to leave Les Temps Modernes. Beauvoir sided with Sartre and ceased to associate with Merleau-Ponty. In Beauvoir's later years, she hosted the journal's editorial meetings in her flat and contributed more than Sartre, whom she often had to force to offer his opinions.

Beauvoir also notably wrote a four-volume autobiography, consisting of: Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter; The Prime of Life; Force of Circumstance (sometimes published in two volumes in English translation: After the War and Hard Times); and All Said and Done.

In the 1970s Beauvoir became active in France's women's liberation movement. She signed the Manifesto of the 343 in 1971, a list of famous women who claimed, mostly falsely, to have had an abortion, then illegal in France. Beauvoir had not actually had an abortion.[citation needed] Signatories were diverse as Catherine Deneuve, Delphine Seyrig, and Beauvoir's sister Poupette. In 1974, abortion was legalized in France.

Her 1970 long essay La Vieillesse (The Coming of Age) is a rare instance of an intellectual meditation on the decline and solitude all humans experience if they do not die before about age 60. In 1981 she wrote La Cérémonie Des Adieux (A Farewell to Sartre), a painful account of Sartre's last years. In the opening of Adieux, Beauvoir notes that it is the only major published work of hers which Sartre did not read before its publication. She and Sartre always read one another's work.

After Sartre died, Beauvoir published his letters to her with edits to spare the feelings of people in their circle who were still living. After Beauvoir's death, Sartre's adopted daughter and literary heir Arlette Elkaïm would not let many of Sartre's letters be published in unedited form. Most of Sartre's letters available today have Beauvoir's edits, which include a few omissions but mostly the use of pseudonyms. Beauvoir's adopted daughter and literary heir Sylvie Le Bon, unlike Elkaïm, published Beauvoir's unedited letters to both Sartre and Algren.

Death, honors and legacy

Beauvoir's grave at the Cimetière du Montparnasse

Beauvoir died of pneumonia in Paris, aged 78. She is buried next to Sartre at the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris.

Since her death, her reputation has grown. Especially in academia, she is considered the mother of post-1968 feminism. There has also been a growing awareness of her as a major French thinker and existentialist philosopher.

Contemporary discussion analyzes the influences of Beauvoir and Sartre on one another. She is seen as having influenced Sartre's masterpiece, Being and Nothingness, while also having written much on philosophy that is independent of Sartrean existentialism. Some scholars have explored the influences of her earlier philosophical essays and treatises upon Sartre's later thought. She is studied by many respected academics both within and outside philosophy circles, including Margaret A. Simons and Sally Scholtz. Beauvoir's life has also inspired numerous biographies.

In 2006, the city of Paris commissioned architect Dietmar Feichtinger to design a sophisticated footbridge across the Seine River. The bridge was named the Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir in her honor. It leads to the new Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Bibliography

Translations

  • Philosophical Writings (Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 2004, edited by Margaret A. Simons et al.) contains a selection of essays by Beauvoir translated for the first time into English. Among those are: Pyrrhus and Cineas, discussing the futility or utility of action, two previously unpublished chapters from her novel She Came to Stay and an introduction to Ethics of Ambiguity.

References

  1. ^ The novels of Simone de Beauvoir, By Elizabeth Fallaize (1990), page 7
  2. ^ Bair, pp. 22, 27–28
  3. ^ Bair, p. 33
  4. ^ Bair, pp. 37–38, 79
  5. ^ Bair, p. 82
  6. ^ Bair, pp. 38, 63
  7. ^ The novels of Simone de Beauvoir, By Elizabeth Fallaize (1990), page 186
  8. ^ Bair, pp. 34–36
  9. ^ Bair, p. 52
  10. ^ Bair, pp. 51, 54
  11. ^ Bair, p. 53
  12. ^ a b Bair, p. 57
  13. ^ Bair, p. 38
  14. ^ Bair, p. 60
  15. ^ Bair, p. 59
  16. ^ Bair, p. 492
  17. ^ Bair, pp. 48, 61, 63
  18. ^ Bair, p. 64
  19. ^ a b c Bair, p. 43
  20. ^ Bair, p. 95
  21. ^ Bair, p. 76
  22. ^ Bair, pp. 43, 45, 89
  23. ^ Bair, pp. 98, 102, 105
  24. ^ Bair, pp. 76, 115, 116
  25. ^ Bair, p. 124
  26. ^ Bair, p. 129
  27. ^ Bair, p. 129
  28. ^ Louis Menand, "Stand By Your Man: The strange liaison of Sartre and Beauvoir", page 4. (The New Yorker, December 26, 2005).
  29. ^ Bair, p. 130
  30. ^ Bair, p. 154
  31. ^ Bair, p. 155–156
  32. ^ Bair, p. 157
  33. ^ Bair, p. 156
  34. ^ a b Schneir, Miriam (1994). Feminism in Our Time. Vintage Books. p. 5. ISBN 0-679-74508-4. 
  35. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/jun/10/gender.politicsphilosophyandsociety
  36. ^ A dangerous liaison: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, By Carole Seymour-Jones (London 2008), page 216 and 274
  37. ^ New studies agree that Beauvoir is eclipsing Sartre as a philosopher and writer, The Independent, by Lesley McDowell Sunday, 25 May 2008
  38. ^ Contingent loves: Simone de Beauvoir and sexuality, By Melanie Hawthorne (London, 2000), pages 65-78
  39. ^ BBC Radio 4 Start the Week BBC Radio 4, Andrew Marr, 21 April 2008
  40. ^ 1977-1979 petitions and signatures (in French)
  41. ^ 1977 Le Monde petition (in French) (lists some of the signatures, see item 6)
  42. ^ 1977 Le Monde petition - list of signatures (in Italian)
  43. ^ Appignanesi 2005, p. 82
  44. ^ Appignanesi 2005, p. 89
  45. ^ a b Moi, Toril 'While We Wait: The English Translation of "The Second Sex" in Signs 27(4) (summer, 2002), pp., 1005-1035.

Sources

  • Appignanesi, Lisa, 2005, Simone de Beauvoir, London: Haus, ISBN 1-904950-09-4
  • Bair, Deirdre, 1990. Simone de Beauvoir: A Biography. New York: Summit Books, ISBN 0-671-60681-6
  • Rowley, Hazel, 2005. Tête-a-Tête: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. New York: HarperCollins.
  • Suzanne Lilar, 1969. Le Malentendu du Deuxième Sexe (with collaboration of Prof. Dreyfus). Paris, University Presses of France (Presses Universitaires de France).
  • Fraser, M., 1999. Identity Without Selfhood: Simone de Beauvoir and Bisexuality, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Axel Madsen, Hearts and Minds: The Common Journey of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, William Morrow & Co, 1977.
  • Hélène Rouch, 2001-2002, Trois conceptions du sexe: Simone de Beauvoir entre Adrienne Sahuqué et Suzanne Lilar, Simone de Beauvoir Studies, n° 18, pp. 49–60.
  • Simone de Beauvoir, Marguerite Yourcenar, Nathalie Sarraute, 2002. Conférence Élisabeth Badinter, Jacques Lassalle & Lucette Finas, ISBN 2717722203.

Bibliographic sources

  • Beauvoir, Simone de. Woman: Myth & Reality,
    • in Jacobus, Lee A (ed.) A World of Ideas. Bedford/St. Martins, Boston 2006. 780-795
    • in Prince, Althea, and Susan Silva Wayne. Feminisms and Womanisms: A Women's Studies Reader. Women's Press, Toronto 2004 p. 59-65.

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Society cares about the individual only in so far as he is profitable. The young know this. Their anxiety as they enter in upon social life matches the anguish of the old as they are excluded from it.

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-01-091986-04-14) was a French author and existentialist philosopher. She is now best known for her 1949 treatise The Second Sex [Le Deuxième Sexe], a detailed analysis of women's oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism, and her long personal relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre.

Contents

Sourced

It was said that I refused to grant any value to the maternal instinct and to love. This was not so.
Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness, but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it.
I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties through my love for truth — and truth rewarded me.
  • I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom.
    • The Blood of Others [Le sang des autres] (1946)
  • The Communists, following Hegel, speak of humanity and its future as of some monolithic individuality. I was attacking this illusion.
  • It was said that I refused to grant any value to the maternal instinct and to love. This was not so. I simply asked that women should experience them truthfully and freely, whereas they often use them as excuses and take refuge in them, only to find themselves imprisoned in that refuge when those emotions have dried up in their hearts. I was accused of preaching sexual promiscuity; but at no point did I ever advise anyone to sleep with just anyone at just any time; my opinion on this subject is that all choices, agreements and refusals should be made independently of institutions, conventions and motives of self-aggrandizement; if the reasons for it are not of the same order as the act itself, then the only result can be lies, distortions and mutilations.
    • Force of Circumstances Vol. III (1963) as translated by Richard Howard (1968) - Excerpt online
  • Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness, but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it. Psychiatrists have told me that they give The Second Sex to their women patients to read, and not merely to intellectual women but to lower-middle-class women, to office workers and women working in factories. 'Your book was a great help to me. Your book saved me,' are the words I have read in letters from women of all ages and all walks of life.
    If my book has helped women, it is because it expressed them, and they in their turn gave it its truth. Thanks to them, it is no longer a matter for scandal and concern. During these last ten years the myths that men created have crumbled, and many women writers have gone beyond me and have been far more daring than I. Too many of them for my taste take sexuality as their only theme; but at least when they write about it they now present themselves as the eye-that-looks, as subject, consciousness, freedom.
    • Force of Circumstances Vol. III (1963) as translated by Richard Howard (1968)
  • It's frightening to think that you mark your children merely by being yourself... It seems unfair. You can't assume the responsibility for everything you do — or don't do.
    • Les Belles Images (1966), Ch. 3
  • What is an adult? A child blown up by age.
    • A Woman Destroyed [Une femme rompue] (1967)
  • I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties through my love for truth — and truth rewarded me.
    • All Said and Done (1972), p. 16 ISBN 1569249814
  • One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.
    • As quoted in Successful Aging : A Conference Report (1974) by Eric Pfeiffer, p. 142
Change your life today. Don't gamble on the future, act now, without delay.
  • When Sartre and I met not only did our backgrounds fuse, but also our solidity, our individual conviction that we were what we were made to be. In that framework we could not become rivals. Then, as the relationship between Sartre and me grew, I became convinced that I was irreplaceable in his life, and he in mine. In other words, we were totally secure in the knowledge that our relationship was also totally solid, again preordained, though, of course, we would have laughed at that word then. When you have such security it's easy not to be jealous. But had I thought that another woman played the same role as I did in Sartre's life, of course, I would have been jealous.
  • In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality: the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man; either, a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation.
    • As quoted in Bisexual Characters in Film: From Anaïs to Zee (1997) by Wayne M. Bryant, p. 143
  • Change your life today. Don't gamble on the future, act now, without delay.
    • As quoted in The Book of Positive Quotations (2007) by John Cook, p. 548

All Men are Mortal (1946)

Tous les hommes sont mortels (1946); quotes are primarily from the translation by Leonard M. Friedman (1955) ISBN 0393308456
I'm never afraid. But in my case it's nothing to be proud of.
  • Insects were scurrying about in the shade cast by the grass, and the lawn was a huge monotonous forest of thousands of little green blades, all equal, all alike, hiding the world from each other. Anguished, she thought, "I don't want to be just another blade of grass."
    • Regina
  • She was beautiful, with a beauty so severe and so solitary that at first it was startling. "Ah! If only there were two of me," she thought, "one doing the talking and one listening, one living and one watching, how I would love myself. I'd envy no one."
    • p. 5
He walks in the street, a picture of modesty in his felt hat and his gabardine suit, and all the while he's thinking, "I'm immortal."
  • Time is beginning to flow again.
    • Raimon (Raymond) to Regina, p. 17
  • If I had amnesia, I'd be almost like other men. Perhaps I'd even be able to love you.
    • Raimon to Regina. p. 17
  • You made me come to Paris. You pestered me to start living again. Well, now it's up to you to make my life livable. You mustn't let three whole days go by without coming to see me. ... You wanted me to take notice of you. Now nothing else matters to me. I know you're alive and I feel emptiness inside me when you're away.
    • Raimon to Regina. p. 20
  • I'm never afraid. But in my case it's nothing to be proud of.
    • Raimon to Regina. p. 23
  • He walks in the street, a picture of modesty in his felt hat and his gabardine suit, and all the while he's thinking, "I'm immortal." The world is his, time is his, and I'm nothing but an insect.
    • Regina to herself, p. 28
You're unique like all other women.
  • One day I'll be old, dead, forgotten. And at this very moment, while I'm sitting here thinking these things, a man in a dingy hotel room is thinking, "I will always be here."
    • Regina to herself, p. 28
  • He had not applauded, he had remained seated, but he had looked at her steadily. From the depths of eternity he had looked at her and Rosalind became immortal. If I could believe him, she thought, if only I could believe him!
    • P. 30
There is only one good. And that is to act according to your conscience.
  • Dare to believe me. Dare!
    • Raimon to Regina. p. 31
  • They were walking side by side, but each was alone.
    • Raimon to Regina, p. 53
  • You're unique like all other women.
    • Raimon to Regina, p. 55
  • I was born in Italy on the 17th May 1279 in a castle in the city of Carmona.
    • 71
  • Even the children of Carmona were divided into two camps, and below the ramparts, among the brushwood and rocks, we battled with stones shouting "Long live the duke!" and others, "Down with the tyrant!" We fought viciously, but I was never satisfied with this game — the fallen enemy rose again, the dead came back to life. The day after a battle, victors and vanquished both found themselves unharmed.
    • p. 72
  • For the first time in my life, I took part in a real battle between men. The dead did not come to life again, the vanquished fled in disorder; every thrust of my lance helped save Carmona. That day, I would have died with a smile on my lips, certain of having contributed to a triumphant future for my city.
    • p. 73
  • It was as though some stubborn god spent their time in an immutable and absurd balancing act between life and death, prosperity and poverty.
    • p. 81
  • There is only one good. And that is to act according to the dictates of one's conscience.
    • p. 181
Had we advanced even a step nearer to the mysterious heart of the universe?
  • What did today's sacrifices matter: the Universe lay ahead in the future. What did burnings at the stake and massacres matter? The Universe was somewhere else, always somewhere else! And it isn't anywhere: there are only men, men eternally divided.
    • p. 201
  • What has value in their eyes is never what is done for them; it's what they do for themselves.
    • p. 315
  • It is impossible to do anything for anyone.
    • p. 317
  • Were we really more advanced than the alchemists of Carmona? We had brought to light certain facts that they were not aware of, we had organised them into the right order; but had we advanced even a step nearer to the mysterious heart of the universe?
  • That's what I consider true generosity. You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.
  • If you live long enough, you'll see that every victory turns into a defeat.
  • After wars peace, after peace, another war. Every day men are born and others die.
  • Try to stay a man amongst men ... There's no other hope for you.
    • Marianne to Raimon
  • In horror, in terror, she accepted the metamorphosis — gnat, foam, ant, until death. And it's only the beginning, she thought. She stood motionless, as if it were possible to play tricks with time, possible to stop it from following its course. But her hands stiffened against her quivering lips.
    When the bells began to sound the hour she let out the first scream.
    • Last lines

The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947)

It is in the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our life that we must draw our strength to live and our reason for acting.
Pour une morale de l'ambiguïté as translated by Full text online
  • At the present time there still exist many doctrines which choose to leave in the shadow certain troubling aspects of a too complex situation. But their attempt to lie to us is in vain. Cowardice doesn’t pay. Those reasonable metaphysics, those consoling ethics with which they would like to entice us only accentuate the disorder from which we suffer.
  • Men of today seem to feel more acutely than ever the paradox of their condition. They know themselves to be the supreme end to which all action should be subordinated, but the exigencies of action force them to treat one another as instruments or obstacles, as means. The more widespread their mastery of the world, the more they find themselves crushed by uncontrollable forces.
    • Part I : Ambiguity and Freedom
From the very beginning, existentialism defined itself as a philosophy of ambiguity.
  • In spite of so many stubborn lies, at every moment, at every opportunity, the truth comes to light, the truth of life and death, of my solitude and my bond with the world, of my freedom and my servitude, of the insignificance and the sovereign importance of each man and all men. There was Stalingrad and there was Buchenwald, and neither of the two wipes out the other. Since we do not succeed in fleeing it, let us therefore try to look the truth in the face. Let us try to assume our fundamental ambiguity. It is in the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our life that we must draw our strength to live and our reason for acting.
    • Part I : Ambiguity and Freedom
  • From the very beginning, existentialism defined itself as a philosophy of ambiguity. It was by affirming the irreducible character of ambiguity that Kierkegaard opposed himself to Hegel, and it is by ambiguity that, in our own generation, Sartre, in Being and Nothingness, fundamentally defined man, that being whose being is not to be, that subjectivity which realizes itself only as a presence in the world, that engaged freedom, that surging of the for-oneself which is immediately given for others. But it is also claimed that existentialism is a philosophy of the absurd and of despair. It encloses man in a sterile anguish, in an empty subjectivity. It is incapable of furnishing him with any principle for making choices. Let him do as he pleases. In any case, the game is lost. Does not Sartre declare, in effect, that man is a “useless passion,” that he tries in vain to realize the synthesis of the for-oneself and the in-oneself, to make himself God? It is true. But it is also true that the most optimistic ethics have all begun by emphasizing the element of failure involved in the condition of man; without failure, no ethics; for a being who, from the very start, would be an exact co-incidence with himself, in a perfect plenitude, the notion of having-to-be would have no meaning. One does not offer an ethics to a God. It is impossible to propose any to man if one defines him as nature, as something given. The so-called psychological or empirical ethics manage to establish themselves only by introducing surreptitiously some flaw within the manthing which they have first defined.
    • Part I : Ambiguity and Freedom
We must not confuse the present with the past. With regard to the past, no further action is possible.
To will freedom and to will to disclose being are one and the same choice...
  • The failure described in Being and Nothingness is definitive, but it is also ambiguous. Man, Sartre tells us, is “a being who makes himself a lack of being in order that there might be being.” That means, first of all, that his passion is not inflicted upon him from without. He chooses it. It is his very being and, as such, does not imply the idea of unhappiness. If this choice is considered as useless, it is because there exists no absolute value before the passion of man, outside of it, in relation to which one might distinguish the useless from the useful. The word “useful” has not yet received a meaning on the level of description where Being and Nothingness is situated. It can be defined only in the human world established by man’s projects and the ends he sets up. In the original helplessness from which man surges up, nothing is useful, nothing is useless. It must therefore be understood that the passion to which man has acquiesced finds no external justification. No outside appeal, no objective necessity permits of its being called useful. It has no reason to will itself. But this does not mean that it can not justify itself, that it can not give itself reasons for being that it does not have. And indeed Sartre tells us that man makes himself this lack of being in order that there might be being. The term in order that clearly indicates an intentionality. It is not in vain that man nullifies being. Thanks to him, being is disclosed and he desires this disclosure. There is an original type of attachment to being which is not the relationship “wanting to be” but rather “wanting to disclose being.” Now, here there is not failure, but rather success.
    • Part I : Ambiguity and Freedom
  • We must not confuse the present with the past. With regard to the past, no further action is possible. There have been war, plague, scandal, and treason, and there is no way of our preventing their having taken place; the executioner became an executioner and the victim underwent his fate as a victim without us; all that we can do is to reveal it, to integrate it into the human heritage, to raise it to the dignity of the aesthetic existence which bears within itself its finality; but first this history had to occur: it occurred as scandal, revolt, crime, or sacrifice, and we were able to try to save it only because it first offered us a form. Today must also exist before being confirmed in its existence: its destination in such a way that everything about it already seemed justified and that there was no more of it to reject, then there would also be nothing to say about it, for no form would take shape in it; it is revealed only through rejection, desire, hate and love. In order for the artist to have a world to express he must first be situated in this world, oppressed or oppressing, resigned or rebellious, a man among men. But at the heart of his existence he finds the exigency which is common to all men; he must first will freedom within himself and universally; he must try to conquer it: in the light of this project situations are graded and reasons for acting are made manifest.
  • To will freedom and to will to disclose being are one and the same choice; hence, freedom takes a positive and constructive step which causes being to pass to existence in a movement which is constantly surpassed.
    • Pt. III : The Positive Aspect of Ambiguity, Ch. 3 : Freedom and Liberation]
  • Science condemns itself to failure when, yielding to the infatuation of the serious, it aspires to attain being, to contain it, and to possess it; but it finds its truth if it considers itself as a free engagement of thought in the given, aiming, at each discovery, not at fusion with the thing, but at the possibility of new discoveries; what the mind then projects is the concrete accomplishment of its freedom.
    • Pt. III : The Positive Aspect of Ambiguity, Ch. 3 : Freedom and Liberation
The individual is defined only by his relationship to the world and to other individuals; he exists only by transcending himself, and his freedom can be achieved only through the freedom of others.
  • Is this kind of ethics individualistic or not? Yes, if one means by that that it accords to the individual an absolute value and that it recognizes in him alone the power of laying the foundations of his own existence. It is individualism in the sense in which the wisdom of the ancients, the Christian ethics of salvation, and the Kantian ideal of virtue also merit this name; it is opposed to the totalitarian doctrines which raise up beyond man the mirage of Mankind. But it is not solipsistic, since the individual is defined only by his relationship to the world and to other individuals; he exists only by transcending himself, and his freedom can be achieved only through the freedom of others. He justifies his existence by a movement which, like freedom, springs from his heart but which leads outside of him.
    This individualism does not lead to the anarchy of personal whim. Man is free; but he finds his law in his very freedom. First, he must assume his freedom and not flee it by a constructive movement: one does not exist without doing something; and also by a negative movement which rejects oppression for oneself and others.
  • A conquest of this kind is never finished; the contingency remains, and, so that he may assert his will, man is even obliged to stir up in the world the outrage he does not want. But this element of failure is a very condition of his life; one can never dream of eliminating it without immediately dreaming of death. This does not mean that one should consent to failure, but rather one must consent to struggle against it without respite.
    • Conclusion
In the earthly domain all glorification of the earth is true as soon as it is realized.
  • In Plato, art is mystification because there is the heaven of Ideas; but in the earthly domain all glorification of the earth is true as soon as it is realized. Let men attach value to words, forms, colors, mathematical theorems, physical laws, and athletic prowess; let them accord value to one another in love and friendship, and the objects, the events, and the men immediately have this value; they have it absolutely. It is possible that a man may refuse to love anything on earth; he will prove this refusal and he will carry it out by suicide. If he lives, the reason is that, whatever he may say, there still remains in him some attachment to existence; his life will be commensurate with this attachment; it will justify itself to the extent that it genuinely justifies the world.
    This justification, though open upon the entire universe through time and space, will always be finite. Whatever one may do, one never realizes anything but a limited work, like existence itself which tries to establish itself through that work and which death also limits. It is the assertion of our finiteness which doubtless gives the doctrine which we have just evoked its austerity and, in some eyes, its sadness. As soon as one considers a system abstractly and theoretically, one puts himself, in effect, on the plane of the universal, thus, of the infinite. ... existentialism does not offer to the reader the consolations of an abstract evasion: existentialism proposes no evasion. On the contrary, its ethics is experienced in the truth of life, and it then appears as the only proposition of salvation which one can address to men. Taking on its own account Descartes’ revolt against the evil genius, the pride of the thinking reed in the face of the universe which crushes him, it asserts that, despite his limits, through them, it is up to each one to fulfill his existence as an absolute. Regardless of the staggering dimensions of the world about us, the density of our ignorance, the risks of catastrophes to come, and our individual weakness within the immense collectivity, the fact remains that we are absolutely free today if we choose to will our existence in its finiteness, a finiteness which is open on the infinite. And in fact, any man who has known real loves, real revolts, real desires, and real will knows quite well that he has no need of any outside guarantee to be sure of his goals; their certitude comes from his own drive. There is a very old saying which goes: “Do what you must, come what may.” That amounts to saying in a different way that the result is not external to the good will which fulfills itself in aiming at it. If it came to be that each man did what he must, existence would be saved in each one without there being any need of dreaming of a paradise where all would be reconciled in death.
    • Conclusion

The Second Sex (1949)

Le Deuxième Sexe (1949) as translated by H M Parshley (1972)ISBN 0679724516
One is not born a genius, one becomes a genius; and the feminine situation has up to the present rendered this becoming practically impossible.
One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.
It is for man to establish the reign of liberty in the midst of the world of the given. To gain the supreme victory, it is necessary, for one thing, that by and through their natural differentiation men and women unequivocally affirm their brotherhood.
  • All agree in recognising the fact that females exist in the human species; today as always they make up about one half of humanity. And yet we are told that femininity is in danger; we are exhorted to be women, remain women, become women. It would appear, then, that every female human being is not necessarily a woman; to be so considered she must share in that mysterious and threatened reality known as femininity.
  • When an individual (or a group of individuals) is kept in a situation of inferiority, the fact is that he is inferior. But the significance of the verb to be must be rightly understood here; it is in bad faith to give it a static value when it really has the dynamic Hegelian sense of "to have become." Yes, women on the whole are today inferior to men; that is, their situation affords them fewer possibilities. The question is: should that state of affairs continue?
    Many men hope that it will continue; not all have given up the battle.
    • Introduction : Woman as Other
  • One is not born a genius, one becomes a genius; and the feminine situation has up to the present rendered this becoming practically impossible.
    • Bk. I, Pt. 2, Ch. 8: Since the French Revolution: the Job and the Vote, p. 133
  • On ne naît pas femme: on le devient.
    • One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.
    • Bk. 2, Pt.. 4, Ch. 1: Childhood, p. 267
  • Sex pleasure in woman, as I have said, is a kind of magic spell; it demands complete abandon; if words or movements oppose the magic of caresses, the spell is broken.
    • Bk. 2, Pt.. 4, Ch. 3: Sexual Initiation. p. 396
  • To "catch" a husband is an art; to "hold" him is a job.
    • Bk. 2, part 5, Ch. 1: The Married Woman, p. 468
  • The curse which lies upon marriage is that too often the individuals are joined in their weakness rather than in their strength, each asking from the other instead of finding pleasure in giving. It is even more deceptive to dream of gaining through the child a plenitude, a warmth, a value, which one is unable to create for oneself; the child brings joy only to the woman who is capable of disinterestedly desiring the happiness of another, to one who without being wrapped up in self seeks to transcend her own existence.
    • Bk. 2, Pt.. 5, Ch. 2: The Mother, p. 522
  • All oppression creates a state of war. And this is no exception. The existent who is regarded as inessential cannot fail to demand the re-establishment of her sovereignty.
    Today the combat takes a different shape; instead of wishing to put man in a prison, woman endeavours to escape from one; she no longer seeks to drag him into the realms of immanence but to emerge, herself, into the light of transcendence.
  • It is vain to apportion praise and blame. The truth is that if the vicious circle is so hard to break, it is because the two sexes are each the victim at once of the other and of itself. Between two adversaries confronting each other in their pure liberty, an agreement could be easily reached: the more so as the war profits neither. But the complexity of the whole affair derives from the fact that each camp is giving aid and comfort to the enemy; woman is pursuing a dream of submission, man a dream of identification. Want of authenticity does not pay: each blames the other for the unhappiness he or she has incurred in yielding to the temptations of the easy way; what man and woman loathe in each other is the shattering frustration of each one's own bad faith and baseness.
  • It is nonsense to assert that revelry, vice, ecstasy, passion, would become impossible if man and woman were equal in concrete matters; the contradictions that put the flesh in opposition to the spirit, the instant to time, the swoon of immanence to the challenge of transcendence, the absolute of pleasure to the nothingness of forgetting, will never be resolved; in sexuality will always be materialised the tension, the anguish, the joy, the frustration, and the triumph of existence. To emancipate woman is to refuse to confine her to the relations she bears to man, not to deny them to her; let her have her independent existence and she will continue none the less to exist for him also: mutually recognising each other as subject, each will yet remain for the other an other. The reciprocity of their relations will not do away with the miracles — desire, possession, love, dream, adventure — worked by the division of human beings into two separate categories; and the words that move us — giving, conquering, uniting — will not lose their meaning. On the contrary, when we abolish the slavery of half of humanity, together with the whole system of hypocrisy that it implies, then the 'division' of humanity will reveal its genuine significance and the human couple will find its true form.
  • It is for man to establish the reign of liberty in the midst of the world of the given. To gain the supreme victory, it is necessary, for one thing, that by and through their natural differentiation men and women unequivocally affirm their brotherhood.

The Coming of Age (1970)

ISBN 039331443X
I am incapable of conceiving infinity, and yet I do not accept finity. I want this adventure that is the context of my life to go on without end.
  • Work almost always has a double aspect: it is a bondage, a wearisome drudgery; but it is also a source of interest, a steadying element, a factor that helps to integrate the worker with society. Retirement may be looked upon either as a prolonged holiday or as a rejection, a being thrown on to the scrap-heap.
    • Pt I, Ch. 4: Old age in present-day society, p. 263
  • Since it is the Other within us who is old, it is natural that the revelation of our age should come to us from outside — from others. We do not accept it willingly.
    • Pt. 2, Ch. 1: The discovery and assumption of old age: the body's experience, p. 288
  • I am incapable of conceiving infinity, and yet I do not accept finity. I want this adventure that is the context of my life to go on without end.
    • Pt. 2, Ch. 2: Time, activity, history, p. 412
  • It is old age, rather than death, that is to be contrasted with life. Old age is life's parody, whereas death transforms life into a destiny: in a way it preserves it by giving it the absolute dimension. Death does away with time.
    • Conclusion, p. 539
  • What should a society be, so that in his last years a man might still be a man?
    The answer is simple: he would always have to have been treated as a man. By the fate that it allots to its members who can no longer work, society gives itself away — it has always looked upon them as so much material. Society confesses that as far as it is concerned, profit is the only thing that counts, and that its "humanism" is mere window-dressing. In the nineteenth century the ruling classes explicitly equated the proletariat with barbarism. The struggles of the workers succeeded in making the proletariat part of mankind once more. But only in so far as it is productive. Society turns away from the aged worker as though he belonged to another species. That is why the whole question is buried in a conspiracy of silence.
    • Conclusion, p. 542
  • Society cares about the individual only in so far as he is profitable. The young know this. Their anxiety as they enter in upon social life matches the anguish of the old as they are excluded from it.
    • Conclusion, p. 543

Unsourced

  • Defending the truth is not something one does out of a sense of duty or to allay guilt complexes, but is a reward in itself.
    • This is also attributed to "Peter Bechmann" (no article at Wikipedia)

Misattributed

  • Each of us is responsible for everything and to every human being.
    • Fyodor Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov; this was used as an epigraph in The Blood of Others, and is sometimes attributed to de Beauvoir

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Simone de Beauvoir (January 9, 1908April 14, 1986) was a French author (writer) and philosopher (person who writes about ways of thinking).

She wrote novels (stories in a book), articles about philosophy ways of thinking or ways of living, and an politics, biographies (books about other people's lives) and an autobiography (a book about her life).

Her best known books are She Came to Stay and The Mandarins. Her best known writing about ideas is the The Second Sex, which was written in 1949. It describes the bad experiences of women in European society, and suggests how women's lives can be improved.

Contents

Early years

Her full name was Simone Lucie-Ernestine-Marie-Bertrand de Beauvoir. She was born on January 9, 1908 in Paris. She studied mathematics and ways of thinking at the Institut Catholique. Then she studied literature and languages at the Institut Sainte-Marie. As well, she studied ways of thinking at the Sorbonne, which is at the University of Paris.

Her writing

In 1943, de Beauvoir published She Came to Stay, a story about her close friend Jean-Paul Sartre (who was also a writer and a philosopher). Next, she wrote a novel called The Mandarins, which won prize.

In 1944 de Beauvoir wrote an article called Pyrrhus et Cinéas, which was about a way of thinking about hard choices that people have to make.

In 1949s, she wrote The Second Sex. It describes the bad experiences of women in European society, and suggests how women's lives can be improved. The book also discussed ways of thinking about hard choices.

At the end of World War II, de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre started a newspaper about ways of living called Les Temps Modernes,

She is buried next to her close friend Jean-Paul Sartre at the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris.

Some of the books she wrote

  • The Blood of Others, (1945)
  • Who Shall Die?, (1945)
  • The Second Sex, (1949)
  • The Mandarins, (1954)
  • The Prime of Life, (1960)
  • When Things of the Spirit Come First, (1979)

Books about Simone de Beauvoir

  • Beauvoir, Simone de. Woman: Myth & Reality,
    • in Jacobus, Lee A (ed.) A World of Ideas. Bedford/St. Martins, Boston 2006. 780-795

Other websites

rue:Сімона де Бовуар








Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message