Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir (January 9, 1908 – April 14, 1986), born Simone-Lucie-Ernestine-Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir was a French author, existential philosopher, political activist, feminist and social theorist. Born in Paris, de Beauvoir was very religious in her youth and intended on becoming a nun until a “crisis of faith” at age 14 pushed her to become an atheist. This remained central to her philosophy for the rest of her life.
She received a dual Bachelor’s degree in mathematics and philosophy in 1925 from the Institut Catholique. She continued her studies at the Sorbonne, studying philosophy, as well as passing exams for Certificates in History of Philosophy, Greek, Logic Ethics, Sociology, and Psychology.
She was the only the ninth woman to receive a degree from Sorbonne — she wrote her thesis on Leibniz at a time when women had just recently been able to study at colleges. Quite the scholar, at 21 years of age de Beauvoir became the youngest teacher of philosophy in France.
The existentialist circle and Jean-Paul Sartre
Desperate to be accepted as part of Jean-Paul Sartre’s intellectual circle, it didn’t take her long to succeed. In addition to Sartre, other existentialists such as Albert Camus and Maurice Merleau-Ponty were part of this world. She and Sartre became lovers in an open relationship. They never married, and though they shared an incredible intellectual and romantic bond. “We have pioneered our own relationship — its freedom, intimacy, and frankness,” as she described it. She had many relationships with both men and women.
A first novel and a dismissal from teaching
From 1941 to 1943 she worked on her first novel, The Blood of Others, considered one of the most important existential novels of the French Resistance. In 1943 she was dismissed from her teaching post, as some parents felt she was corrupting her students. She decided then to pursue her passion, which was to write full time, and never returned to teaching.
The Second Sex and legacy
Simone de Beauvoir’s most popular and enduring work is The Second Sex, published in 1949. It is still read and studied to this day as an essential manifesto on women’s oppression and liberation. Filled with ideas deemed radical at the time, the book made her an intellectual force and inspired a generation of women to question the status quo, and better yet, to change it.
Simone de Beauvoir’s body of work encompasses fiction, nonfiction, essay, and memoir. Her novel The Mandarins received the prestigious Prix Goncourt award in 1954. Simone de Beauvoir died in Paris of a pulmonary edema in 1986.
You might also like: Philosophical Quotes by Simone de Beauvoir
More about Simone de Beauvoir on this site
- She Came to Stay
- The Mandarins
- The Second Sex
- Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter
- The Ethics of Ambiguity
- A Very Easy Death
Autobiographies and memoir
- Diary of a Philosophy Student: Volume 1, 1926-27
- The Prime of Life: The Autobiography of Simone De Beauvoir (1929-1944)
- Wartime Diary (1939-41)
- After the War: Force of Circumstance, 1944-1952
- Hard Times: Force of Circumstance, Volume II: 1952-1962
- All Said and Done: The Autobiography of Simone De Beauvoir 1962-1972
- Simone de Beauvoir: The Making of an Intellectual Woman by Toril Moi
- Tete-a-Tete: The Tumultuous Lives and Loves of Simone de Beauvoir
and Jean-Paul Sartre by Hazel Rowley
- Simone de Beauvoir: A Biography by Deirdre Bair
- A Dangerous Liaison: A Revelatory New Biography of Simone DeBeauvoir
and Jean-Paul Sartre by Carole Seymour-Jones
- Simone de Beauvoir (Life and Times) by Lisa Appignanesi
- Simone de Beauvoir by Ursula Tidd
- Simone De Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre: The Remaking of
a Twentieth-Century Legend by Kate and Edward Fullbrook
- Contingent Loves: Simone de Beauvoir and Sexuality by Melanie C. Hawthorne
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- The Simone de Beauvoir Society
- de Beauvoir page on Amazon
- Reader discussion of de Beauvoir’s books on Goodreads
Articles, News, Etc.
- Simone de Beauvoir, The Art of Fiction No. 35
- London Review of Books: The Adulteress Wife
- Stand by Your Man: The Strange Liaison of Sartre and Beauvoir
- Interview with Simone de Beauvoir on “Why I am a Feminist”
- Simone de Beauvoir: Google Doodle Celebrates a Feminist Icon
- de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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