In this classic introduction to existentialist thought, French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir’s The Ethics of Ambiguity simultaneously pays homage to and grapples with her French contemporaries, philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, by arguing that the freedoms in existentialism carry with them certain ethical responsibilities. De Beauvoir outlines a series of ways of being (the adventurer, the passionate person, the lover, the artist, and the intellectual), each of which overcomes the former’s deficiencies, and therefore can live up to the responsibilities (...) of freedom. Ultimately, de Beauvoir argues that in order to achieve true freedom, one must battle against the choices and activities of those who suppress it. The Ethics of Ambiguity is the book that launched Simone de Beauvoir’s feminist and existential philosophy. It remains a concise yet thorough examination of existence and what it means to be human.--Description from an alternate version. (shrink)
In this article de Beauvoir defends a conception of literature as a kind of unveiling of something that exists outside itself, a mode of action which reveals certain truths about the world. What we call “literature” is eminently capable of grasping the world—a world which de Beauvoir, following Jean-Paul Sartre, conceives of as a “detotalized totality”; one that is real and independent of us, which exists for all, but is only graspable through our own projects and our perspectives. Yet far (...) from keeping us stranded within our unique subjectivities, literature restores to subjective experience its generality; it allows other to “taste” the world as it exists for others. We can communicate through literature because in it our world, our languages, and our projects overlap. Ultimately, for de Beauvoir, literature is what allows us to see the world as others see it—all the while remaining, irreducibly, ourselves. (shrink)
In these interviews from 1982 and 1985, I ask Beauvoir about her philosophical differences with Jean-Paul Sartre on the issues of voluntarism vs social conditioning and embodiment, individualism vs reciprocity, and ontology vs ethics. We also discuss her influence on Sartre's work, the problems with the current English translation of The Second Sex, her analyses of motherhood and feminist concepts of woman-identity, and her own experience of sexism.
In these letters, de Beauvoir tells Sartre everything, tracing the extraordinary complications of their triangular love life; they reveal her not only as manipulative and dependent, but also as vulnerable, passionate, jealous, and committed.
The Useless Mouths" and Other Literary Writings brings to English-language readers literary writings--several previously unknown--by Simone de Beauvoir. Culled from sources including various American university collections, the works span decades of Beauvoir's career. Ranging from dramatic works and literary theory to radio broadcasts, they collectively reveal fresh insights into Beauvoir's writing process, personal life, and the honing of her philosophy. The volume begins with a new translation of the 1945 play The Useless Mouths, written in Paris during the Nazi occupation. (...) Other pieces were discovered after Beauvoir's death in 1986, such as the 1965 short novel "Misunderstanding in Moscow," involving an elderly French couple who confront their fears of aging. Two additional previously unknown texts include the fragmentary "Notes for a Novel," which contains the seed of what she later would call "the problem of the Other," and a lecture on postwar French theater titled Existentialist Theater. The collection notably includes the eagerly awaited translation of Beauvoir's contribution to a 1965 debate among Jean-Paul Sartre and other French writers and intellectuals, "What Can Literature Do?". (shrink)
Simone de Beauvoir, still a teen, began a diary while a philosophy student at the Sorbonne. Written in 1926-27—before Beauvoir met Jean-Paul Sartre—the diaries reveal previously unknown details about her life and times and offer critical insights into her early intellectual interests, philosophy, and literary works. Presented for the first time in translation, this fully annotated first volume of the Diary includes essays from Barbara Klaw and Margaret A. Simons that address its philosophical, historical, and literary significance. It remains an (...) invaluable resource for tracing the development of Beauvoir’s independent thinking and her influence on philosophy, feminism, and the world. (shrink)
Revelatory insights into the early life and thought of the preeminent French feminist philosopher Dating from her years as a philosophy student at the Sorbonne, this is the 1926-27 diary of the teenager who would become the famous French philosopher, author, and feminist, Simone de Beauvoir. Written years before her first meeting with Jean-Paul Sartre, these diaries reveal previously unknown details about her life and offer critical insights into her early philosophy and literary works. Presented here for the first time (...) in translation and fully annotated, the diary is completed by essays from Barbara Klaw and Margaret A. Simons that address its philosophical, historical and literary significance. The volume represents an invaluable resource for tracing the development of Beauvoir’s independent thinking and influence on the world. (shrink)
Written from September 1939 to January 1941, Simone de Beauvoir’s Wartime Diary gives English readers unabridged access to one of the scandalous texts that threaten to overturn traditional views of Beauvoir’s life and work. The account in Beauvoir’s Wartime Diary of her clandestine affair with Jacques Bost and sexual relationships with various young women challenges the conventional picture of Beauvoir as the devoted companion of Jean-Paul Sartre, just as her account of completing her novel She Came to Stay at a (...) time when Sartre’s philosophy in Being and Nothingness was barely begun calls into question the traditional view of Beauvoir’s novel as merely illustrating Sartre’s philosophy. Most important, the Wartime Diary provides an exciting account of Beauvoir’s philosophical transformation from the prewar solipsism of She Came to Stay to the postwar political engagement of The Second Sex. Cast in the crucible of the Nazi Occupation, Beauvoir’s existentialist ethics reflects dramatic collective experiences, such as joining the tide of refugees fleeing the German invasion in June 1940, as well as the courageous reaffirmation of her individuality in constructing a humanist ethics of freedom and solidarity in January 1941. (shrink)
Revelatory insights into the early life and thought of the preeminent French feminist philosopher Dating from her years as a philosophy student at the Sorbonne, this is the 1926-27 diary of the teenager who would become the famous French philosopher, author, and feminist, Simone de Beauvoir. Written years before her first meeting with Jean-Paul Sartre, these diaries reveal previously unknown details about her life and offer critical insights into her early philosophy and literary works. Presented here for the first time (...) in translation and fully annotated, the diary is completed by essays from Barbara Klaw and Margaret A. Simons that address its philosophical, historical and literary significance. The volume represents an invaluable resource for tracing the development of Beauvoir's independent thinking and influence on the world. (shrink)
'Alors, c'est la cérémonie des adieux?' m'a dit Sartre, comme nous nous quittions pour un mois, au début de l'été. J'ai pressenti le sens que devaient prendre un jour ces mots. La cérémonie a duré dix ans : ce sont ces dix années que je raconte dans ce livre.
"L'homme cherche toujours son intérêt", "La nature humaine ne changera jamais", "Loin des yeux, loin du cœur", "On n'est jamais si bien servi que par soi-même", "Tout nouveau, tout beau", "On n'est pas sur terre pour s'amuser"... Ces lieux communs, ces partis pris, qui constituent la sagesse des nations, expriment une vision du monde incohérente, cynique et omniprésente, qu'il convient de mettre en question. C'est en son nom en effet qu'on reproche à l'existentialisme d'offrir à l'homme une image de lui-même (...) et de sa condition propre à le désespérer. Au contraire, cette philosophie veut le convaincre de refuser les consolations du mensonge et de la résignation : elle fait confiance à l'homme. (shrink)