Philosophy Simone de Beauvoir
by
Edward Fullbrook, Margaret Simons
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 October 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 August 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0277

Introduction

Simone de Beauvoir (b. 1908–d. 1986) contributed to shaping the philosophical movement of French existential phenomenology. But recognition of her importance as a philosopher has come mostly since her death. The delay resulted from the convergence of two factors. One was the sexism that ruled Western intellectual culture; the other was Beauvoir’s close half-century working relationship with the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, which meant that all the ideas that they publicly shared could, given the dominance of sexism, automatically be attributed to him. By the time of Beauvoir’s death sexism’s grip on intellectual culture was, thanks in part to her book The Second Sex, beginning to weaken. Also beginning in 1983 the voluminous diaries and letters of Beauvoir and Sartre were published, which revealed in chronological detail the her/him origins of the philosophical ideas that they so famously shared. These developments led to an increasing proportion of Beauvoir scholarship focused on her work and role as a philosopher. Continental philosophy tends to be more inclusive with regard to literary form than does the analytical tradition. This is especially true of its phenomenological branch, which includes existentialism, the school to which Beauvoir belonged and helped develop. This inclusiveness stems directly from the method of discovery employed by phenomenological philosophers. One of Beauvoir’s foundational ideas was that the universal point of view is, as with everyone else, not available to the philosopher. Instead, thought begins from individual points of view and then proceeds on the basis of inductive generalization. This emphasis on the particular and the concrete, from which philosophical propositions may be drawn, invites the use of fiction as a medium for philosophical discovery, especially at the ontological level. For this reason and because traditional publishing platforms for philosophers were not generally open to women, Beauvoir used this method extensively. Beauvoir’s primary focus in the earliest stage of her philosophical work was on the structure of human consciousness: how it relates to itself, how it relates to the physical world, and, most especially, on the problem of the existence of other human consciousnesses. She developed her theory of the Other from the experience of finding oneself the object of the other’s gaze. The second stage of Beauvoir’s philosophical work, reflecting her experience of living under the Nazi occupation, moves from the metaphysical and moral solipsism of She Came to Stay to focus on the ethical implications of relationships with the Other. In the third stage, which lasted throughout the rest of her life, Beauvoir expanded her focus on the ethical to address the political context of moral questions, constructing a theory to expose the oppression of women as the Other in The Second Sex. Later, she applied a similar approach to condemn the treatment of the aged in Old Age.

General Overviews

Introductions, the first of this section’s five subheadings, includes books that focus on Beauvoir’s philosophy as a whole. Anthologies features collections of scholarly articles dealing with a wide range of the subject matters that Beauvoir dealt with as a philosopher. Because Beauvoir’s work and life as a philosopher were to an unusual degree historically contingent, we have included a short Historical Studies section of books that place her work in a historical context. The Bibliographies and Biographies headings are self-explanatory.

Introductions

Mussett 2015 and Bergoffen 2010 are entries in open-access philosophy encyclopedias. Considering Beauvoir’s work as a philosopher, Bergoffen’s essay is much the stronger. Tidd 2009 provides a critical overview of Beauvoir’s life and works, whereas Sandford 2007, short and engaging, is focused more on philosophy. Deutscher 2008 considers, in the context of a number of contemporary theories, various dimensions of Beauvoir’s theory of “otherness.” Fullbrook and Fullbrook 1998 describes, in the order of their development, the whole multifaceted range of Beauvoir’s contributions to philosophy.

Anthologies

Listed here are edited volumes of scholarly articles offering either a broad perspective on Beauvoir’s philosophy or on aspects of it not directly covered under Themes. Simons 1995, Fallaize 1998, Card 2003, and Simons 2006 belong to the first category. Boule and Tidd 2012 focuses on Beauvoir and feminist film theory, Mussett and Wilkerson 2013 on phenomenology, Stoller 2014 on old age, and Scholz and Mussett 2005 on her novel The Mandarins.

  • Boule, Jean-Pierre, and Ursula Tidd, eds. Existentialism and Contemporary Cinema: A Beauvoirian Perspective. Oxford: Berghahn, 2012.

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    A volume on film studies and the philosophy of Beauvoir, who inaugurated the concept of the gendered “othering” gaze, central to anglophone feminist film theory.

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    • Card, Claudia, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Simone de Beauvoir. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

      DOI: 10.1017/CCOL0521790964Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      A comprehensive overview of Beauvoir’s philosophy, covering her literary writings, ethics, and feminism. Particularly interesting papers by Gothlin and Heinämaa with rival claims of the influence of Heidegger and Husserl, and by Butler on Beauvoir’s defense of Sade: “By insisting on understanding Sade . . . Beauvoir refutes Sade’s thesis that the Other is not to be understood” (p. 186).

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      • Fallaize, Elizabeth, ed. Simone de Beauvoir: A Critical Reader. London: Routledge, 1998.

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        The first volume to gather together classic critical texts on Beauvoir’s work as a feminist, novelist, and philosopher, with helpful introductions by Fallaize that place the texts in historical context and a famous excerpt from Barnes 1959 (see Literature and Philosophy) comparing She Came to Stay and Sartre’s Being and Nothingness: “the similarity between them is too striking to be coincidence” (p. 158).

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        • Mussett, Shannon M., and William S. Wilkerson, eds. Beauvoir and Western Thought from Plato to Butler. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2013.

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          A recent anthology that addresses the issue of Beauvoir’s autobiographical denials of philosophy and provides readings of Beauvoir with Plato, Rousseau, Kant, Sade, Marx, Nietzsche, Husserl, Bergson, Merleau-Ponty, Irigaray, Butler, and Hooks.

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          • Scholz, Sally J., and Shannon M. Mussett, eds. The Contradictions of Freedom: Philosophical Essays on Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Mandarins.” Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005.

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            The first volume of philosophical readings of Beauvoir’s award-winning novel; particularly interesting are Tidd on the intellectual and truth-telling, which provides a historical context for understanding the misrepresentations in Beauvoir’s autobiographies, and McWeeny on the “trinities” in Beauvoir’s novel as positing a critical alternative to Hegel’s dialectic.

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            • Simons, Margaret A., ed. Feminist Interpretations of Simone de Beauvoir. Re-reading the Canon. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995.

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              The first volume of essays on Beauvoir’s philosophy to appear after her death and the posthumous publication of her diaries and letters to Sartre, it offers readings of Beauvoir from a variety of methodological approaches, including phenomenology, literary criticism, analytic philosophy, and postmodern deconstruction.

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              • Simons, Margaret A., ed. The Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir: Critical Essays. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

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                Sixteen essays that broaden the scope and interpretive context of her unique philosophy, setting her work into dialogue with Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, Foucault, and Levinas, and that consider her interpretations of oppression and liberation. Includes Le Doeuff’s Nietzschean challenge: “Are you capable of supporting the reading of Beauvoir such as she is?” (p. 15).

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                • Stoller, Silvia, ed. Simone de Beauvoir’s Philosophy of Age: Gender, Ethics, and Time. Papers presented at an International Beauvoir Centennial Conference on Age/Ageing held at the University of Vienna, February 2008. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2014.

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                  A new anthology of papers (and comments) focused on Beauvoir’s important, and little studied, book on old age. Fielding in “The Poetry of Habit” is an interesting look at the “promising moments” for aged existence. The short comments that follow the main papers—such as Postl’s comment on Bergoffen’s paper—will be useful for encouraging classroom discussion.

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                  Historical Studies

                  Because, on the one hand, Beauvoir’s work was shaped by her historical situation and, on the other contributed—perhaps for a philosopher to an unprecedented degree—to contemporaneous historical change, studies that consider her work in a historical context are especially appropriate. Galster 2007 explores Beauvoir’s interactions with her era before she became famous. Chaperon 2004 compares the working environments faced by Beauvoir as a woman with those by Sartre as a man. Zéphir 1982 and Chaperon 2000 trace the influences of The Second Sex in the first three decades following its publication.

                  • Chaperon, Sylvie. Les années Beauvoir: 1945–1970. Paris: Fayard, 2000.

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                    Important study of The Second Sex in historical context from the immediate postwar era in which it was written to the 1970s women’s liberation movement.

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                    • Chaperon, Sylvie. “Simone de Beauvoir à la croisée de l’histoire des femmes et des intellectuels.” In Intellectuelles: Du genre en histoire des intellectuels. Edited by Racine Nicole and Trebitsch Michel, 115–133. Paris: Édition Complexe, 2004.

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                      A comparison of the formation and reception of the reputations of Sartre and Beauvoir.

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                      • Galster, Ingrid. Beauvoir dans tous ses états. Paris: Tallandier, 2007.

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                        An invaluable resource, including interviews with Beauvoir’s former philosophy students; an analysis of Beauvoir’s subversive occupation-era radio show; and copies of pages from her long-lost diplôme on Leibniz, discovered by Galster.

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                        • Zéphir, Jacques. Le néo-féminisme de Simone de Beauvoir: Trente ans après le deuxième sexe: un post-scriptum. Paris: Denoël-Gonthier, 1982.

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                          A study of the evolution of Beauvoir’s feminism in the thirty years after the publication of The Second Sex.

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                          Bibliographies

                          Francis and Gontier 1979 is the most definitive bibliography of Beauvoir’s published writings through 1977. Bennett and Hochmann 1988 and Toadvine 2001 update Francis and Gontier 1979 and provide extensive secondary bibliographies, which in Toadvine 2001 focus more narrowly on Beauvoir and existential phenomenology.

                          • Bennett, Joy, and Gabriella Hochmann. Simone de Beauvoir: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1988.

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                            A superb annotated bibliography, 470 pages.

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                            • Francis, Claude, and Fernande Gontier. Les écrits de Simone de Beauvoir. Paris: Gallimard, 1979.

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                              Every serious Beauvoir scholar needs this 600-page book. It includes a seventy-three-page chronology of her life and 318 pages of texts, many of them previously unpublished or little known.

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                              • Toadvine, Ted. “Simone de Beauvoir and Existential Phenomenology: A Bibliography.” In The Existential Phenomenology of Simone de Beauvoir. Edited by Wendy O’Brien and Lester Embree, 205–251. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001.

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                                In addition to its inclusive primary sources, it includes secondary sources up to 1999.

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                                Biographies

                                Because Beauvoir wrote numerous volumes of popular autobiography, her biographies have in the main been dominated by her own accounts of her life. These include Francis and Gontier 1987 and Bair 1990. Unfortunately, Beauvoir’s autobiographies deny her early ambitions and work in philosophy. Consequently, this aspect of her life has been omitted from most Beauvoir biographies. Ironically the most sophisticated intellectual biography of Beauvoir based on the autobiographical account, Moi 1994, was published the same year that evidence drawn from the posthumously published numerous volumes of diaries and letters appeared challenging the autobiographical account. The highly readable Fullbrook and Fullbrook 1994 is the first biography to draw heavily on this documentary evidence. Simons 2010 digs deeper in the same. Rowley 2005 concentrates on Beauvoir’s and Sartre’s love lives.

                                • Bair, Deirdre. Simone de Beauvoir: A Biography. New York: Summit, 1990.

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                                  A popular, “authorized” biography based on the autobiographies and interviews with Beauvoir, of interest to philosophers for Beauvoir’s revised account of the writing of She Came to Stay that obscures the evidence in Sartre’s war diary that he drew upon Beauvoir’s novel in writing Being and Nothingness.

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                                  • Francis, Claude, and Fernande Gontier. Simone de Beauvoir: A Life, a Love Story. New York: St. Martin’s, 1987.

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                                    The first biography to go beyond Beauvoir’s autobiographical account of her life, identifying “Pradelle” as Maurice Merleau-Ponty and uncovering the story of her grandfather’s bankruptcy and imprisonment in 1910 that impoverished the family.

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                                    • Fullbrook, Kate, and Edward Fullbrook. Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre: The Remaking of a Twentieth-Century Legend. New York: Basic Books, 1994.

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                                      It challenges the traditional account of the intellectual relationship between Beauvoir and Sartre, using their posthumously published diaries and letters to argue that Beauvoir, especially her She Came to Stay, was the source of the core ideas of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness.

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                                      • Moi, Toril. Simone de Beauvoir: The Making of an Intellectual Woman. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.

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                                        An influential intellectual biography based on Beauvoir’s autobiographies and with psychoanalytic readings of Beauvoir’s works; takes up a reading of Beauvoir’s argument with Sartre in the Luxembourg Gardens in 1929 as driving Beauvoir out of philosophy, a reading originating in Le Doeuff 1991, pp. 135–139 (cited under The Second Sex and the Feminist Movement).

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                                        • Rowley, Hazel. Tête-à-Tête: The Tumultuous Lives and Loves of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. New York: HarperCollins, 2005.

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                                          A study of the love affairs of Beauvoir and Sartre relevant to philosophers for the evidence amassed from the posthumously published texts that undermines the autobiographical account of their lives.

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                                          • Simons, Margaret. “Confronting an Impasse: Reflections on the Past and Future of Beauvoir Scholarship.” Hypatia 25.4 (Fall 2010): 909–926.

                                            DOI: 10.1111/j.1527-2001.2010.01132.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            Detailing the evidence in the posthumously published diaries and letters that Beauvoir erased her work in philosophy from her autobiographies.

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                                            Primary Sources

                                            This section’s eccentric subset of categories—Essays, Fiction, Autobiographies, Diaries and Letters, and Interviews—reflects both the struggle that Beauvoir faced as a woman aspiring to be a philosopher and her early commitment to the phenomenological approach.

                                            Essays

                                            Until recently, few of Beauvoir’s major essays were available in English, a situation that changed with the publication of Philosophical Writings (Beauvoir 2004a), the first of seven volumes in the Beauvoir series. “Pyrrhus and Cineas” (Beauvoir 2004c), for example, Beauvoir’s important early essay in existentialist ethics, which anticipates her well-known work The Ethics of Ambiguity (Beauvoir 2000), had never before been translated in its entirety. Philosophical Writings also includes “Literature and Metaphysics” (Beauvoir 2004b), Beauvoir’s argument for writing philosophy in literary form. “Must We Burn Sade?” (Beauvoir 2012b), Beauvoir’s surprising defense of Sade, has a new scholarly translation in Political Writings (Beauvoir 2012a), and “What Can Literature Do?” (Beauvoir 2011b), an eagerly awaited translation of Beauvoir’s contribution to a 1965 debate, appears in “The Useless Mouths” and Other Literary Writings, along with a new scholarly translation of her 1966 lecture in Japan, “My Experience as a Writer” (Beauvoir 2011a), Beauvoir’s first Japan lecture. “The Situation of Women Today” (Beauvoir 2015b), published in Feminist Writings (Beauvoir 2015a), takes up arguments from The Second Sex and reaffirms her commitment to feminism. The Long March, a rosy picture of Mao’s China, was translated immediately after its publication in 1957 (Beauvoir 1958). But it was fifty years before America Day by Day, Beauvoir’s account of her 1947 lecture trip to the United States, became available in an unabridged edition, which includes restored deleted references to the African American writer Richard Wright and much of Beauvoir’s critique of racial segregation in America (Beauvoir 1999). English-language readers had to wait over sixty years for an unabridged edition of The Second Sex, Beauvoir’s feminist classic originally published in 1949 (Beauvoir 2010).

                                            • Beauvoir, Simone de. The Long March. Translated by Austryn Wainhouse. Cleveland, OH: World Publishing Company, 1958.

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                                              A rosy picture of China based on her six-week trip in 1955; admires Mao’s triumph over hunger ironically just before the onset of the Great Famine in 1958. Originally published in 1957 as La longue marche, essai sur la Chine (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                              • Beauvoir, Simone de. Old Age. Translated by Patrick O’Brian. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1977.

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                                                A long essay with philosophical and methodological similarities to The Second Sex that sets out “to break the conspiracy of silence” about aging (p. 2). Originally published in 1970 as La vieillesse (Paris: Gallimard) and published in America in 1972 as The Coming of Age (New York: Putnam).

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                                                • Beauvoir, Simone de. America Day by Day. Translated by Carol Cosman. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.

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                                                  The first unabridged American edition of Beauvoir’s account of five months travelling and lecturing at American universities in 1947; includes indications of how her friendship with Richard Wright and observations about racial segregation in America contributed to the development of her concept of the Social Other. Originally published in 1948 as L’Amérique au jour le jour (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                  • Beauvoir, Simone de. The Ethics of Ambiguity. Translated by Bernard Frechtman. New York: Citadel, 2000.

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                                                    This work deploys her theory of consciousness, which by now included the Social Other, to consider how values are interjected into the world, thereby creating the ambiguity in the human condition between the objective and the subjective. Originally published in 1947 as Pour une morale de l’ambiguïté (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                    • Beauvoir, Simone de. Philosophical Writings. Edited by Margaret A. Simons, Marybeth Timmermann, and Mary Beth Mader. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004a.

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                                                      Includes a student essay in the philosophy of science, “Two Unpublished Chapters of She Came to Stay [1938],” “Pyrrhus and Cineas (1944),” “A Review of The Phenomenology of Perception by Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1945),” “Moral Idealism and Political Realism (1945),” “An Eye for an Eye,” and “Literature and Metaphysics (1946)” among others. With scholarly introductions to individual texts, many translated here for the first time.

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                                                      • Beauvoir, Simone de. “Literature and Metaphysics.” In Philosophical Writings. Edited by Margaret A. Simons, Marybeth Timmermann, and Mary Beth Mader, 269–277. Translated by Veronique Zaytzeff and Frederick Morrison. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004b.

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                                                        Beauvoir’s defense of writing philosophy in literary form, first published in 1946 as “Littérature et métaphysique.”

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                                                        • Beauvoir, Simone de. “Pyrrhus and Cineas (1944).” In Philosophical Writings. Edited by Margaret A. Simons, Marybeth Timmermann, and Mary Beth Mader, 88–149. Translated by Marybeth Timmermann. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004c.

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                                                          Rushed into print following the liberation of Paris in 1944, Beauvoir’s essay in existentialist ethics became a vehicle for the introduction of “existentialism” to the French reading public. Originally published in 1944 as Pyrrhus et Cinéas.

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                                                          • Beauvoir, Simone de. The Second Sex. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Knopf, 2010.

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                                                            A radical feminist defense of sexual freedom and sexual equality defining the theoretical foundations of the 1970s women’s liberation movement. It originates the influential concept of the oppressed Other, arguing that men in sexist societies construct woman as the absolute Other. The first unabridged English edition of Le Deuxième Sexe, originally published in 1949 (Paris: Gallimard). An abridged English edition was published in 1952 (New York: Knopf).

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                                                            • Beauvoir, Simone de. “My Experience as a Writer.” In “The Useless Mouths” and Other Literary Writings. Edited by Margaret A. Simons and Marybeth Timmermann, 282–301. Translated by J. Debbie Mann. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011a.

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                                                              In this lecture given in Japan in September 1966 and originally published in 1966 as “Mon experience d’écrivain,” Beauvoir defends autobiography as a creative construction and argues that the writer must use an individual experience to reveal a universal dimension.

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                                                              • Beauvoir, Simone de. “What Can Literature Do?” In “The Useless Mouths” and Other Literary Writings. Edited by Margaret A. Simons and Marybeth Timmermann, 197–209. Translated by Marybeth Timmermann. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011b.

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                                                                In this contribution to a 1965 debate, Beauvoir responds to proponents of the “new novel” who attack “engaged literature” as a merely instrumental use of language. Originally published in 1965 as “Que peut la littérature?”

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                                                                • Beauvoir, Simone de. Political Writings. Edited by Margaret A. Simons and Marybeth Timmermann. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012a.

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                                                                  Scholarly introductions are provided for each of the texts in this volume chronicling almost three decades of Beauvoir’s leftist political engagement, beginning with political reporting from Spain, Portugal, and the United States, followed by well-known essays on Sade, Merleau-Ponty, and the political right, as well as articles on the Algerian war and Israel, and concluding with a transcription of her co-authored 1974 documentary film on old age.

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                                                                  • Beauvoir, Simone de. “Must We Burn Sade?” In Political Writings. Edited by Margaret A. Simons and Marybeth Timmermann, 44–101. Translated by K. A. Gleed, M. G. Rose, and V. Preston. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012b.

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                                                                    Originally published in 1952 as “Faut-il brûler Sade?” Beauvoir’s surprising defense of Sade as a “great moralist” (p. 75) hails him as a precursor of psychoanalysis and admires the defiant authenticity of his defense of his eroticism.

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                                                                    • Beauvoir, Simone de. Feminist Writings. Edited by Margaret A. Simons and Marybeth Timmermann. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015a.

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                                                                      Includes recently discovered feminist texts from the era of The Second Sex, a new translation of a famous 1972 interview announcing Beauvoir’s “conversion to feminism,” and texts pointing to Beauvoir’s historic role linking the movements for sexual freedom and sexual equality, homosexual rights, and women’s rights in France; with introductions to individual texts by leading scholars such as Elizabeth Fallaize, Nancy Bauer, Shannon Mussett, Karen Vintges, Debra Bergoffen, Ursula Tidd, Sylvie Chaperon, and Françoise Picq.

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                                                                      • Beauvoir, Simone de. “The Situation of Women Today.” In Feminist Writings. Edited by Margaret A. Simons and Marybeth Timmermann, 132–145. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015b.

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                                                                        Beauvoir’s lecture given in 1966, the first of three lectures in Japan, is an important affirmation of her commitment to feminism and challenges the view that she subsumed feminism under Marxism prior to the 1970s; originally published in Francis and Gontier 1979 (cited under Bibliographies) as “Situation de la femme d’aujourd’hui.”

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                                                                        Fiction

                                                                        In her 1946 essay “Literature and Metaphysis,” Beauvoir explained how fiction could be used as a method for both inventing and presenting philosophy. She was employing the general method of the phenomenology, which, like the novelist’s, works from the concrete and the individual to the abstract and the universal. Since it is possible to view the world only from a particular point of view, the philosopher must start by looking at particular and concrete descriptions of subjects’ relations with the world and with other consciousnesses. As in science theoretical papers draw upon the results of empirical research, philosophical essays can draw upon the results of the concrete inquiries of philosophical fiction. Beauvoir’s special talent was having begun with ontologically significant concrete experiences to then combine them in a narrative that leads immediately to the universal plane. Nowhere was this talent more in evidence and more influential than in her first novel She Came to Stay (Beauvoir 2006). Unaware that it had been written before Sartre had begun Being and Nothingness, the latter’s English translator, Hazel Barnes, noted that its theory of intersubjectivity “is all faithfully illustrated for us in . . . She Came to Stay” (Barnes 1959, p. 121, cited under Literature and Philosophy). Because Beauvoir permitted both Sartre and Merleau-Ponty to closely study her manuscript in 1940, the impact of its arguments and ideas on the shape of continental philosophy was both immediate and profound. In She Came to Stay Beauvoir explores how the two dimensions of the division of self, freedom/facticity and subject/object vis-à-vis the Other, can interact in diverse ways. The novel, which takes the trio as one of its central structures, also began the extension of the subject/object relation to groups. In The Blood of Others (Beauvoir 2002), Beauvoir first projected her theory of an internal relation between consciousnesses on to a broad social canvas. All Men Are Mortal (Beauvoir 2008) features a character whose biology differs in one fundamental respect from that of “men.” He is immortal and Beauvoir thereby isolates the part mortality plays in defining our metaphysical outlook. The Mandarins (Beauvoir 1984), the longest and most read of Beauvoir’s novels, deploys characters modeled on leading French intellectuals and artists caught in the postwar collapse of the Left and the beginning of the Cold War. Les Belles Images (Beauvoir 1985), Beauvoir’s last novel, attempts to reinstate ethics amid media chatter and fashionable Parisian intellectual theories. The Woman Destroyed (Beauvoir 2013) is three novellas about women who lose their illusion of reciprocity with their husbands. When Things of the Spirit Come First (Beauvoir 1982), written from 1935 to 1937, consists of five interlocking stories united by the theme of “bad faith” (p. 210) and the phenomenological task of stripping away myths and preconceived ideas to confront the things of reality themselves.

                                                                        • Beauvoir, Simone de. When Things of the Spirit Come First: Five Early Tales. Translated by Patrick O’Brian. New York: Pantheon, 1982.

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                                                                          The short stories in this volume (written from 1935 to 1937) are united by the theme of “bad faith” (p. 210) and a turn to the phenomenological task of stripping away the layers of myths and preconceived ideas to confront the things of reality themselves. Initially rejected by Gallimard in 1937, it was published in 1979 as Quand prime le spirituel (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                                          • Beauvoir, Simone de. The Mandarins. Translated by Leonard M. Friedman. London: Flamingo, 1984.

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                                                                            Beauvoir’s award-winning novel about the personal and political struggles of French intellectuals caught in the postwar collapse of the Left and the beginning of the Cold War. One of the most impressive novels of ideas of the 20th century. Originally published in 1954 as Les Mandarins (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                                            • Beauvoir, Simone de. Les Belles Images. Translated by Patrick O’Brian. London: Flamingo, 1985.

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                                                                              This novel, Beauvoir’s last, pits the aesthetic of inhuman technological perfectibility against an ethical response to a world that has become inarticulate. Originally published in 1966 as Les belles images (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                                              • Beauvoir, Simone de. The Blood of Others. Translated by Yvonne Moyse and Roger Senhouse. London: Penguin, 2002.

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                                                                                This novel extends Beauvoir’s theory of an internal relation between consciousnesses into the realm of social categories. Her journals show that she regarded this work as a logical progression from She Came to Stay in the development of her theory of intersubjectivity. Originally published in 1945 as La sang des autres (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                                                • Beauvoir, Simone de. She Came to Stay. Translated by Yvonne Moyse and Roger Senhouse. London: Harper Perennial, 2006.

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                                                                                  A tightly constructed philosophical work disguised as a sex and scandal confessional. Two issues predominate: the relation of the body to perceptions and to consciousness, and the possible relations between one’s own consciousness and those of other persons, and with illustrations of six: masochism, love, sadism, hate, desire, and indifference. Originally published in 1943 as L’Invitée (Paris: Gallimard); also published in London in 1984 (Flamingo).

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                                                                                  • Beauvoir, Simone de. All Men Are Mortal. Translated by Leonard M. Friedman. New York: W. W. Norton, 2008.

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                                                                                    Explores a number of philosophical questions, especially the issue of individual versus universal points of view and the part mortality plays in the human being’s metaphysical reality. Originally published in 1946 as Tous les hommes sont mortels (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                                                    • Beauvoir, Simone de. “The Useless Mouths” and Other Literary Writings. Edited by Margaret A. Simons and Marybeth Timmermann. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011a.

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                                                                                      Along with a play and a novella, and two recently discovered recordings (a lecture on existential theater and an interview on autobiography), the volume includes two articles on literature and her experience as a writer, as well as short prefaces to literary works, an important preface to La bâtarde, a novel by Violette Leduc, for whom Beauvoir served as mentor, and a recently discovered manuscript of notes for a novel tentatively dated 1928.

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                                                                                      • Beauvoir, Simone de. “Misunderstanding in Moscow.” In “The Useless Mouths” and Other Literary Writings. Edited by Margaret A. Simons and Marybeth Timmermann, 211–274. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011b.

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                                                                                        This novella written in 1965 seems destined to become one of Beauvoir’s most popular works of fiction. Set in Moscow during the era of détente, it is an unconventional love story of an elderly French couple as they confront their fears of aging. Originally published in 1992 as “Malentendu à Moscou” and translated here for the first time.

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                                                                                        • Beauvoir, Simone de. “The Useless Mouths.” In “The Useless Mouths” and Other Literary Writings. Edited by Margaret A. Simons and Marybeth Timmermann, 33–87. Translated by Liz Stanley and Catherine Naji. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011c.

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                                                                                          Written during the final year of the Nazi occupation when food shortages were acute, this story of the anguish of choice for a besieged medieval town facing starvation is also a surprisingly feminist tale of courageous women who stare down death and inspire the male leaders of the town to do the same. Originally published in 1945 as “Les bouches inutiles.”

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                                                                                          • Beauvoir, Simone de. The Woman Destroyed. Translated by Patrick O’Brian. New York: Pantheon, 2013.

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                                                                                            Three linked novellas that use different narrative techniques to make possible the direct fictional portrayal of subjectivity. Originally published in 1967 as La femme rompue (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                                                            Autobiographies

                                                                                            Until challenged by the posthumously published diaries and letters, Beauvoir’s multivolume autobiography was accepted as the authoritative account of her life and work, an account that unfortunately erased her ambitions and achievements in philosophy as it erased her sexual relationships with women (on the autobiography as “constructions,” see Tidd 1999, cited under Feminist Philosophy: Gender; on the sexual relationships, see Rowley 2005, cited under Biographies; and on the erasure of her philosophy, see Simons 2010, cited under Biographies). The conventionality of Beauvoir’s depiction of her life and work in her autobiography, begun in 1956, reflects the era of the Cold War when the collapse of the postwar leftist coalition was followed by the triumphant return of the political right in France. In a 1960 interview (see Chapsal 1960, cited under Interviews) about her autobiographies, Beauvoir explains that she wanted to encourage young women by recounting her own life experience and to defend her work in The Second Sex, which critics had dismissed as a work of “feminine resentment” (Chapsal 1960, p. 396). She wanted to show that she was not an embittered, resentful woman (on Beauvoir’s autobiography as providing a model for young women in the art of living—in reconciling love and freedom—see Vintges 1996, cited under Ethics and Political Philosophy).

                                                                                            • Beauvoir, Simone de. Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter. Translated by James Kirkup. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1963.

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                                                                                              Covers her childhood, adolescence, rebellious student days at the Sorbonne, meeting Sartre, and the death of her beloved Zaza, but erases her early ambitions and work in philosophy as well as her early philosophical influences, including Henri Bergson. Originally published in 1958 as Mémoires d’une jeune fille rangée (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                                                              • Beauvoir, Simone de. The Prime of Life. Translated by Peter Green. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1965.

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                                                                                                Covers her life from the age of twenty-one to the liberation of Paris in 1944; masks her philosophical work as literature and presents Sartre as the philosopher. Originally published in 1960 as La force de l’âge (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                                                                • Beauvoir, Simone de. Force of Circumstance. Translated by Richard Howard. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1968.

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                                                                                                  Chronicles the postwar “existentialist offensive,” The Second Sex, and the Algerian war; discusses the public reception of her work but not its genesis. Originally published in 1963 as La force des choses (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                                                                  • Beauvoir, Simone de. All Said and Done. Translated by Patrick O’Brian. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1977.

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                                                                                                    A thematic account of the years from 1962 to 1972, on friendships, literature, travel, and politics, including the events of May ’68 and the French women’s liberation movement. Originally published in 1972 as Tout compte fait (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                                                                    • Beauvoir, Simone de. Adieux: A Farewell to Sartre. Translated by Patrick O’Brian. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1985.

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                                                                                                      Begins with a graphic account of the last years of Sartre’s life, followed by transcripts of their conversations from 1974 looking back at their shared lives. Originally published in 1981 as La cérémonie des adieux: Suivi de Entretiens avec Jean-Paul Sartre (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                                                                      • Beauvoir, Simone de. A Very Easy Death. Translated by Patrick O’Brian. London: Penguin, 1996.

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                                                                                                        A moving account of her mother’s death, Beauvoir’s most engaging book. Originally published in 1964 as Une mort très douce (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                                                                        Diaries and Letters

                                                                                                        The volumes cited below were not available until beginning in 1990, four years after Beauvoir’s death. Their impact on Beauvoir studies, especially when read alongside similar posthumous Sartre volumes, has been enormous. Lettres à Sartre (Beauvoir 1990) and Wartime Diary (Beauvoir 2009) are key texts for establishing Beauvoir’s origination of the philosophy in She Came to Stay. Beauvoir 2006 and Beauvoir 2008 shed light on her early philosophy. Beauvoir 1998 and Beauvoir and Bost 2004 challenge and enrich the autobiographical account of her personal life and her writings.

                                                                                                        • Beauvoir, Simone de. Lettres à Sartre. Edited by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir. Paris: Gallimard, 1990.

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                                                                                                          Includes: Vol. 1, 1930–1939; Vol. 2, 1940–1963. Hundreds of letters, many lengthy, that Beauvoir wrote to Sartre between 1930 and 1963. Over half of the total of 840 pages are letters written between September 1939 and March 1940 when he was a soldier at war and she was occupied with finishing She Came to Stay. Readers should beware of the heavily abridged English edition, published in 1991 as Letters to Sartre, that deletes thirty-eight references to Beauvoir’s work on She Came to Stay from letters in November and December 1940 alone and mistranslates key philosophical terms.

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                                                                                                          • Beauvoir, Simone de. A Transatlantic Love Affair: Letters to Nelson Algren. Edited by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir. Translated by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir. New York: New Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                            Letters to Beauvoir’s lover, the American writer Nelson Algren, are interesting to philosophers for references to writers such as Richard Wright, and to her work on The Second Sex. Originally published in 1997 as Lettres à Nelson Algren (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                                                                            • Beauvoir, Simone de. Diary of a Philosophy Student, 1926–27. Transcribed and translated by Barbara Klaw. Edited by B. Klaw, Sylvie Le Bon, and Margaret A. Simons. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                              Although written by a teenager, this is the diary of a philosopher already very much in the making; contains evidence of early philosophical influences, e.g., Bergson, and her early formulations of ideas that would shape her professional life, e.g., “the opposition of self and other” (p. 279).

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                                                                                                              • Beauvoir, Simone de. Cahiers de jeunesse, 1926–1930. Edited by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir. Paris: Gallimard, 2008.

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                                                                                                                This edition includes new transcriptions of Beauvoir’s handwritten diaries from 1926–1927 already transcribed and translated in Beauvoir 2006 as well as diaries from 1928–1930 housed in the Bibliothèque Nationale and those in the collection of Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir. Chronicles Beauvoir’s student years, writing her diplôme on Leibniz and meeting with Sartre, including her argument with Sartre in the Luxembourg Gardens made famous in Le Doeuff 1991 (see The Second Sex and the Feminist Movement).

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                                                                                                                • Beauvoir, Simone de. Wartime Diary. Translated by Anne Deing Cordero. Edited by Margaret A. Simons and Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                  Chronicles Beauvoir’s experience of the Nazi occupation and her philosophical move away from prewar solipsism to a humanist philosophy of political engagement—drawing on Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger. Originally published in 1990 as Journal de guerre (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                                                                                  • Beauvoir, Simone de, and Jacques-Laurent Bost. Correspondence croisée; 1937–1940. Edited by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir. Paris: Gallimard, 2004.

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                                                                                                                    Letters exchanged by Beauvoir and Bost, an infantry soldier and former student of Sartre, shed light on the experience of the “phony war” awaiting the German invasion, reveal aspects of Beauvoir’s life hidden from the autobiographies, and provide references to her work on She Came to Stay.

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                                                                                                                    Interviews

                                                                                                                    Beauvoir in her interviews, as in her diaries and letters, was often more candid than she was in her autobiographies. In Chapsal 1960 Beauvoir discusses her reasons for writing her autobiographies; in Jardine 1979 and Schwarzer 1984 she discusses feminism as she also does, along with philosophy and The Second Sex, in Simons 1989 and Simons and Benjamin 1999.

                                                                                                                    • Chapsal, Madeleine. “Une interview de Simone de Beauvoir.” In Les écrivains en personne. By Madeleine Chapsal, 17–37. Paris: Julliard, 1960.

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                                                                                                                      Revealing interview about Beauvoir’s struggle as a woman to become a writer; reprinted in Francis and Gontier 1979 (pp. 381–396, cited under Bibliographies).

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                                                                                                                      • David, Catherine. “Beauvoir elle-même.” Le Nouvel Observateur (22 January 1979): 82–85.

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                                                                                                                        See also pp. 88–89. Includes a list of Beauvoir’s interviews.

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                                                                                                                        • Jardine, Alice. “Interview with Simone de Beauvoir.” Signs 5.2 (Winter 1979): 224–236.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1086/493705Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Beauvoir gives her views on women’s relation to language and on the postmodern feminists Helene Cixous, Luce Irigaray, and Julia Kristeva.

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                                                                                                                          • Schwarzer, Alice. Simone de Beauvoir Today: Conversations 1972–1982. Translated by Marianne Howarth. London: Chatto & Windus, 1984.

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                                                                                                                            Interviews by a leading German feminist and long-time friend of Beauvoir. Also available as a DVD in French and German: Simone de Beauvoir Live: Ein filmporträt von Alice Schwarzer for purchase.

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                                                                                                                            • Simons, Margaret A. “Two Interviews with Simone de Beauvoir.” Transcribed and translated by Jane Marie Todd. Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy 3.3 (Winter 1989): 11–27.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1527-2001.1988.tb00185.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Questions and answers on philosophy, feminism, and problems with the 1952 English translation of The Second Sex; Reprinted in Beauvoir and The Second Sex: Feminism, Race, and the Origins of Existentialism (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999), pp. 55–59 and 93–100.

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                                                                                                                              • Simons, Margaret A., and Jessica Benjamin. “Simone de Beauvoir: An Interview.” Transcribed and translated by Veronique Zaytzeff. In Beauvoir and The Second Sex: Feminism, Race, and the Origins of Existentialism. By Margaret Simons, 8–21. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                Questions and answers about how Beauvoir came by her philosophy, with a particularly interesting exchange on the Other in She Came to Stay. First published in an abridged version in 1979.

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                                                                                                                                Themes

                                                                                                                                The four subcategories here are Philosophical Relationship with Sartre, Literature and Philosophy, Ethics and Political Philosophy, and Feminist Philosophy.

                                                                                                                                Philosophical Relationship with Sartre

                                                                                                                                Although as a philosopher Beauvoir was feted in America immediately after World War II, she was soon relegated everywhere—excepting existentialism’s inner circle (see Jeanson 1966)—to the status of Jean-Paul Sartre’s most effective popularizer. To the end of her life Beauvoir remained ambivalent about this fate. On the one hand, her autobiographies encouraged the traditional view that at the creative level philosophy was not a woman’s business, but, on the other hand, in interviews and elsewhere she insisted that the philosophical ideas found in her novels originated with her rather than Sartre. Meanwhile she preserved her diaries as well as her and Sartre’s letters, which, when published after their deaths, would reveal in day-by-day detail who originated the famous ideas that they shared. Simons 1981 is one of the first articles to analyze Beauvoir’s philosophy of the Other and situated freedom and their influence on Sartre. Lundgren-Gothlin 1996, published in Swedish in 1991, is one of the first monographs to challenge the view of Beauvoir as Sartre’s philosophical disciple, analyzing her independent readings of Kojève and Hegel. Fullbrook and Fullbrook 2008 strengthens the argument of the authors, first presented in 1994 (see Biographies), that Beauvoir, rather than Sartre, originated much of the philosophy they shared. Daigle and Golomb 2009 illustrates the controversy surrounding the question of influence.

                                                                                                                                • Daigle, Christine, and Jacob Golomb. Beauvoir and Sartre: The Riddle of Influence. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                  An anthology of papers that illustrates the controversy surrounding the question of influence, the editors’ introduction omits Beauvoir’s She Came to Stay from the list of key texts in the development of their shared philosophy, thus ignoring the evidence of its influence on Sartre’s Being and Nothingness (p. 9).

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                                                                                                                                  • Fullbrook, Edward, and Kate Fullbrook. Sex and Philosophy: Rethinking de Beauvoir and Sartre. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                    Strengthens the argument of the authors that Beauvoir, rather than Sartre, originated much of the philosophy they shared, with new material on the phenomenon of absence.

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                                                                                                                                    • Jeanson, Francis. Simone de Beauvoir ou l’entreprise de vivre: Suivi d’entretiens avec Simone de Beauvoir. Paris: Le Seuil, 1966.

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                                                                                                                                      A reading of Beauvor’s work and commitment by a philosopher associated with Sartre’s existentialism.

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                                                                                                                                      • Lundgren-Gothlin, Eva. Sex and Existence: Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex.” Translated by Linda Schenck. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                        One of the first scholarly monographs to challenge the view of Beauvoir as Sartre’s philosophical disciple, with a particular focus on evidence of Beauvoir’s reading of Kojève and Hegel. Revised from the Swedish original, published in 1991.

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                                                                                                                                        • Simons, Margaret. “Beauvoir and Sartre: The Question of Influence.” Eros: A Journal of Philosophy and Literary Arts 8.1 (June 1981): 25–42.

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                                                                                                                                          Originally published in 1981 and revised and reprinted in 1986; one of the first articles to analyze Beauvoir’s original philosophical work and influence on Sartre; discusses the Other in She Came to Stay and situated freedom in The Second Sex, comparing them with Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, Anti-Semite and Jew, and Saint Genet. Also in Beauvoir and The Second Sex: Feminism, Race, and the Origins of Existentialism (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999), 41–54.

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                                                                                                                                          Literature and Philosophy

                                                                                                                                          Unlike Sartre’s fiction, especially his Nausea, Beauvoir’s fiction was, with some important exceptions, not generally read and studied with regard to its philosophical content until after her death. One exception was the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty in his essay on L’Invitee shortly after it was published (Merleau-Ponty 1964). Another notable exception was Sartre. In the days immediately following his reading of Beauvoir’s final draft in February 1940, he recorded in his War Diaries many of the philosophical ideas and arguments found in She Came to Stay (see Sartre 1984). Barnes 1959 gives a point-by-point detailing of the correlation between the philosophical content of She Came to Stay and Being and Nothingness, which would prove to be unintentionally devastating for traditional views. Fullbrook and Fullbrook 1998 offers textual readings, as do Holveck 2002 and McWeeny 2012.

                                                                                                                                          • Barnes, Hazel. The Literature of Possibility: A Study in Humanistic Existentialism. London: Tavistock, 1959.

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                                                                                                                                            Barnes, the English translator and respected critic of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, describes the similarity between the theory of intersubjectivity set out in Beauvoir’s She Came to Stay and the theory set out in Being and Nothingness as “too striking to be coincidence” (p. 158).

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                                                                                                                                            • Fullbrook, Edward, and Kate Fullbrook. Simone de Beauvoir: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                              Analyzes how Beauvoir develops her theories of embodiment and intersubjectivity in her fiction.

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                                                                                                                                              • Holveck, Eleanore. Simone de Beauvoir’s Philosophy of Lived Experience: Literature and Metaphysics. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                An innovative reading of Beauvoir’s philosophy of lived experience from the viewpoint of the “other” women who appear on the fringes of her fiction, namely, shop girls, seamstresses, and prostitutes.

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                                                                                                                                                • McWeeny, Jennifer. “The Feminist Phenomenology of Excess: Ontological Multiplicity, Auto-jealousy, and Suicide in Beauvoir’s L’Invitée.” Continental Philosophy Review 45.1 (2012): 41–75.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1007/s11007-011-9204-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Explores the philosophical continuity between Beauvoir’s novel, She Came to Stay and The Second Sex—arguing that the novel offers “a thick description of gender consciousness” (p. 47).

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                                                                                                                                                  • Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. “Metaphysics and the Novel.” In Sense and Non-sense. Translated by Hubert L. Dreyfus and Patricia Allen Dreyfus, 26–40. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1964.

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                                                                                                                                                    A major philosopher explains how fiction works as a method for phenomenological philosophy. Originally published in 1945 as “Le roman et la métaphysique.”

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                                                                                                                                                    • Sartre, Jean-Paul Sartre. War Diaries: Notebooks for a Phoney War: November 1939–March 1940. Translated by Quentin Hoare. London: Verso, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                      On 11 February 1940 the soldier Sartre returned from ten days leave in Paris during which he had numerous sessions reading a final draft of Beauvoir’s metaphysical novel, She Came to Stay. Between 11 and 29 February his notebooks 11 and 12 (see pp. 167–286; notebook 13 is missing) spell out numerous philosophical ideas found in Beauvoir’s novel but not previously identifiable with Sartre. Originally published in 1983 as Les carnets de la drôle de guerre: Novembre 1939–mars 1940 (Paris: Gallimard).

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                                                                                                                                                      Ethics and Political Philosophy

                                                                                                                                                      Between 1942 and 1946 Beauvoir wrote two book-length essays on ethics, Pyrrhus et Cinéas and, two years later, the more developed The Ethics of Ambiguity. In this same period she wrote and published numerous other works focused on ethical problems, including the essays “Idéalisme moral et réalisme politique” and “Eye for Eye,” the novels, The Blood of Others and All Men Are Mortal, and the play, The Useless Mouths. These works are all closely related and all provide examples of Beauvoir’s ethical thought. Beauvoirian ethics has been influential in providing philosophical ballast for liberation movements, including feminism, following World War II. For the earliest analysis of Beauvoir’s concepts of the Other and freedom limited by situation, see Simons 1981 (cited under Philosophical Relationship with Sartre). Arp 2001, Vintges 1996, and Kail 2006 offer good overviews of Beauvoir’s ethics. Bergoffen 1996 and Fullbrook and Fullbrook 1995 delve deeper into various aspects, and Bras and Kail 2011, Gagnebin 1968, Henry 1961, and Mounier 1949 all approach Beauvoir’s ethics from special vantage points. Kruks 1987 is centered on Beauvoir’s theory of freedom, whereas Kruks 2012 focuses on Beauvoir’s political philosophy.

                                                                                                                                                      • Arp, Kristana. The Bonds of Freedom: Simone de Beauvoir’s Existentialist Ethics. Chicago: Open Court, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                        A clearly written introduction to Beauvoir’s ethics, accessible to the nonspecialist.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Bergoffen, Debra B. The Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir: Gendered Phenomenologies, Erotic Generosities. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                          An innovative reading of Beauvoir’s ethics by a leading researcher, includes one of the first studies of “Pyrrhus and Cineas” and an early philosophical analysis of “Must We Burn Sade?”

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                                                                                                                                                          • Bergoffen, Debra. “Finitude and Justice: Simone de Beauvoir’s All Men Are Mortal.” Philosophy Today 53, Suppl. (2009): 116–120.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.5840/philtoday200953Supplement34Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            Argues that Beauvoir’s novel is an important investigation of the passion made possible by our mortality as essential to our humanity, a critique of humanism, and an account of freedom that takes account of our intergenerational responsibilities.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Bras, Pierre, and Michel Kail, eds. Simone de Beauvoir et la psychanalyse. Collection L’homme et la société. Paris: Harmattan, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                              A volume devoted to the links between Beauvoir’s thought and psychoanalysis.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Fullbrook, Edward, and Kate Fullbrook. “Whose Ethics, Sartre’s or Beauvoir’s.” Simone de Beauvoir Studies 12 (1995): 84–90.

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                                                                                                                                                                It identifies two key principles as central to Beauvoir’s ethics: denial that objective values exist and that human freedom is the ultimate and primary value.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Gagnebin, Laurent. Simone de Beauvoir, ou le refus de l’indifférence. Paris: Éditions Fischbacher, 1968.

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                                                                                                                                                                  A Protestant philosopher and theologian who explores the Christian elements in Beauvoir’s thought.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Henry, Antonin-Marcel. Simone de Beauvoir, ou l’échec d’une chrétienté. Paris: A. Fayard, 1961.

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                                                                                                                                                                    An analysis by a Dominican of Beauvoir’s atheism.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Kail, Michel. Simone de Beauvoir, philosophe. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2006.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.3917/puf.kail.2006.01Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      A study of Beauvoir’s work as a philosopher, especially her use of the concepts of situation and freedom.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Kruks, Sonia. “Simone de Beauvoir and the Limits to Freedom.” Social Text (Fall 1987): 111–122.

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                                                                                                                                                                        A sustained analysis of Beauvoir’s theory of freedom.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Kruks, Sonia. Simone de Beauvoir and the Politics of Ambiguity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381443.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          A reading of Beauvoir’s political philosophy as a humanism aware of its limitations, offering an alternative to both liberal humanism and postmodernism.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Mounier, Emmanuel. “La condition humaine: Simone de Beauvoir: Le deuxième sexe.” Esprit 12.17 (December 1949).

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                                                                                                                                                                            Critical but very supportive of the work of Beauvoir by the founding philosopher of personalism.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Vintges, Karen. Philosophy as Passion: The Thinking of Simone de Beauvoir. Translated by Anne Lavelle. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                              An original study of Beauvoir’s ethics in the context of her literary writings and The Second Sex; originally published in Amsterdam in 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Feminist Philosophy

                                                                                                                                                                              The extensive secondary literature on Beauvoir’s feminist philosophy is divided into three subsections: Readings of The Second Sex, Gender, and The Second Sex and the Feminist Movement.

                                                                                                                                                                              Readings of The Second Sex

                                                                                                                                                                              The Second Sex is one of those great books that invite readings, often contrary, from different points of view. Card 1985 critiques the treatment of lesbianism in The Second Sex, Spelman 1988 its handling of racism, and Chaperon 1997 its misuse of some conceptualizations. Eaubonne 1951 reads the book from the vantage point of the time and place of its publication, and Chaperon 2000 relates it to the 1960s and 1970s in France. Singer 1985 reads The Second Sex within the context of the traditional erasure of Beauvoir’s work from the philosophical canon.

                                                                                                                                                                              Gender

                                                                                                                                                                              Gender, the idea that the roles, norms, and behaviors that distinguish the sexes are in large part social constructions, was central to Beauvoir’s analysis of women’s situations and possibilities. In the opening line of the second volume of The Second Sex she famously expressed this idea as, “One is not born, but rather becomes a woman.” But it was more than a hypothesis; it was also perceived as, and intended to be, a threat to the status quo. Beauvoir’s analysis of the relations between the sexes was grounded in her ontology of relations between self and the other and between social groups. Monnin 2005 and Tidd 1999 offer overviews of Beauvoir’s approach to female identities. Bauer 2001, Butler 2006, and Heinämaa 2003 examine Beauvoir’s concept of gender from the vantage points of various philosophers and schools of philosophy. Gennari 1965, Grégoire 1965, and Lilar 1970 are essentially attacks on the idea that gender is socially constructed.

                                                                                                                                                                              • Bauer, Nancy. Simone de Beauvoir, Philosophy, and Feminism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                An important study of Beauvoir’s feminist philosophy in the context of her ethics; Hegel, Sartre, and, most originally, Descartes’s question “What is a man?” in the second meditation serves as a model for the question, “What is a woman?” in The Second Sex.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  An influential postmodernist reading of Beauvoir’s feminist philosophy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Gennari, Geneviève. Le dossier de la femme. Paris: Perrin, 1965.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    This work, like Grégoire 1965, opposes Beauvoir’s feminism with a feminism that claims ontological differences between the sexes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Grégoire, Ménie. Le métier de femme. Paris: Plon, 1965.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      This work, like Gennari 1965, rejects Beauvoir’s feminism in favor of one based on naturalism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Heinämaa, Sara. Toward a Phenomenology of Sexual Difference: Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Beauvoir. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        The definitive analysis of Beauvoir’s appropriation of Husserlean phenomenology.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Lilar, Suzanne. Le Malentendu du Deuxième sexe. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1970.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Strongly influenced by Platonic philosophy, Lilar rejects Beauvoir’s vision of sexuality to advocate the complementarity of the sexes and the mystical experience of love.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Monnin, Nathalie. On ne naît pas femme, on le devient: Simone de Beauvoir. Nantes, France: Pleins Feux, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Short philosophical analysis of Beauvoir’s theory of female identity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Tidd, Ursula. Simone de Beauvoir, Gender and Testimony. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511485893Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              An insightful analysis of Beauvoir’s autobiographical strategies as she sought to write herself into the male-constructed autobiographical canon.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              The Second Sex and the Feminist Movement

                                                                                                                                                                                              Because The Second Sex has been, and continues to be, so fundamental both for understanding women’s position in the world and for providing moral justification and strategic thought for changing it, it is in various combinations read, utilized, critiqued, and sometimes rejected by feminist theorists and movements of many varieties. Delphy and Chaperon 2002 provides a large global sampling of this vast literature, including extensive bibliographies. Le Doeuff 1991 reads The Second Sex in the context of the author’s own variety of feminism. Simons 1999 traces the impact of The Second Sex across a broad canvas. Dumas 1967 considers it from the point of view of the author’s theological feminism. Irigaray 2002 considers the book’s concept of Otherness from an essentialist point of view. Chaperon 2012 describes the divisional impact that The Second Sex had on feminism in France. Young 1985 finds Beauvoir’s feminism too male, and Fraisse 2008 considers it from the perspective of a woman who has served as a member of the European Parliament.

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Chaperon, Sylvie. “Beauvoir et le féminisme français.” In Simone de Beauvoir. Edited by Eliane Lecarme-Tabone and Jean-Louis Jeannelle, 277–283. Paris: Éditions de l’Herne, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Article studying feminist divisions regarding The Second Sex that formed in the 1960s and 1970s.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Delphy, Christine, and Sylvie Chaperon, eds. Cinquantenaire du Deuxième Sexe. Proceedings of a conference held at Paris, 19–23 January 1999. Paris: Syllepse, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  A collection of seventy papers presented at the international colloquium celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of The Second Sex, including papers on its philosophy, feminist legacy, and translation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Dumas, Françine. L’autre semblable, hommes et femmes. Neuchâtel, Switzerland: Delachaux et Niestlé, 1967.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    An essay on feminist Protestant theology, heavily influed by Beauvoir’s existentialism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Fraisse, Geneviève. Le privilège de Simone de Beauvoir suivi de Une mort douce. Arles, France: Actes Sud, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Short philosophical analysis from the perspective of a woman who has served as a member of the European Parliament on the way in which Beauvoir managed from her privileged situation to analyze women’s situation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Irigaray, Luce. “La question de l’autre.” labrys, études féministes 1–2 (July–December 2002).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        A critique of Otherness in Beauvoir by an essentialist feminist philosopher.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Le Doeuff, Michèle. Hipparchia’s Choice: An Essay Concerning Women, Philosophy, etc. Translated by Trista Selous. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          A major feminist work that includes an interpretation of Beauvoir’s life and work based on the autobiographies; originated the influential reading of a 1929 argument with Sartre in the Luxembourg Gardens as driving Beauvoir out of philosophy. Originally published in 1989 as L’Etude et le rouet (Paris: Le Seuil).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Simons, Margaret. Beauvoir and The Second Sex: Feminism, Race, and the Origins of Existentialism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Interviews with Beauvoir and articles on racism in feminism, The Second Sex translation, motherhood, sexism in philosophy, her lesbian relationships, radical feminism, Richard Wright, her 1927 diary, and a 1981 article on concepts of the Other and of situated freedom in The Second Sex that incfluenced Sartre’s Saint Genet.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Young, Iris Marion. “Humanism, Gynocentrism and Feminist Politics.” Women’s Studies International Forum 8.3 (1985): 173–183.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/0277-5395(85)90040-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Reads Beauvoir as working within a Sartrean framework; criticizes her philosophy as male-identified.

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