Shannon Mussett
Utah Valley University
In 1947, Simone de Beauvoir traveled to the United States for a four-month stay, during which she toured the country extensively. Her copious notes taken during this time eventually became the travelogue, America Day by Day as well as a piece written for the May 25, 1947 edition of the New York Times Magazine, “An Existentialist Looks at Americans.” In both of these writings, Beauvoir offers an astute criticism of American culture from a foreign perspective. This paper explores Beauvoir’s treatment of American abstraction and race with three goals in mind: first, to understand the American relationship to time and money as abstractions. Ignoring the past and projecting an idealistic future, leads to a strange kind of fatalism and lack of passion that profoundly impacts White and Black Americans but in distinctively different ways. The second part of the paper explores these differences through an analysis of how White Americans attempt to live with “good” consciences through the positing of and attachment to abstract values and things. This attitude, in turn, produces a largely instrumental and racist treatment of many populations, in particular, Black Americans. The final section focuses on how Beauvoir confronts the fact of her own whiteness, and in so doing undergoes the movement of race as an abstract theoretical category to one of lived embodiment.
Keywords America  Simone de Beauvoir  abstraction  money  race  time
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.5195/jffp.2020.940
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 58,981
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Philosophical Writings.Simone de Beauvoir & Margaret Simons (eds.) - 2005 - University of Illinois Press.
Simone de Beauvoir on Existentialist Theater.Dennis A. Gilbert - 2012 - Sartre Studies International 18 (2):107-126.
The Aesthetic Attitude in the Ethics of Ambiguity.Peg Zeglin Brand - 2001-2002 - Simone de Beauvoir Studies 18:31-48.


Added to PP index

Total views
5 ( #1,148,344 of 2,427,421 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #147,271 of 2,427,421 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes