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)
Simone de Beauvoir’s early enthusiasm for the philosophy of Henri Bergson (1859-1941)—denied in her 1958 autobiography, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter—is a surprising discovery in her 1927 handwritten student diary, as I reported in 1999 and explored at more length in 2003 (Simons 1999; Simons 2003). Discovered by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir after Beauvoir’s death in 1986 and now housed in the Bibliothèque nationale, Beauvoir’s student diary first appeared in print in the 2006 volume, (...) Diary of a Philosophy Student: 1926-27, followed in 2008 by the French publication, Cahiers de jeunesse: 1926-1930. Since my 1999 analysis of the 1927 diary, the publication of the 1926 diary and other posthumously discovered texts has deepened and complicated the evidence of Bergson’s influence.1 In this chapter, I propose to take up and expand upon my earlier analyses in the light of this new evidence, arguing that Beauvoir’s methodological turn to the description of immediate experience, especially her method of writing philosophy in literature and her lifelong interest in describing the subjective experience of time, drew upon Bergson’s philosophy before her first encounter with Husserl’s phenomenology which may have come as early as 1927; that her concept of bad faith and interest in exposing distortions in perception and thinking, as in the chapters in The Second Sex on myths about women, drew upon Bergson’s philosophy long before she had read Marx; and that her earliest formulation of the problem of the Other drew upon Bergson’s distinction between the “social self and the deep self,” two years before she met Jean-Paul Sartre and two decades before she first read Hegel’s Phenomenology. (shrink)
Simone de Beauvoir’s readers who saw a heterosexual ideal in her relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre must have been dismayed by the 1990 French publication of her Journal de guerre (Wartime Diary) and Lettres à Sartre (Letters to Sartre). Discovered after Beauvoir’s death in 1986 and edited for publication by her adopted daughter, Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir, Beauvoir’s Wartime Diary and Letters to Sartre recount her sexual affairs with several young women. In Deirdre Bair’s authorized (...) biography of Beauvoir, also published in 1990, Bair describes the young women in question as merely Beauvoir’s friends and reports that Beauvoir denied having sexual relationships with women (Bair 1990, 213-15, 510). With the publication of the wartime diary and letters, Beauvoir’s readers and her biographer were thus confronted with the uncomfortable revelation that Beauvoir had lied to them about her sexual relationships. -/- Given society’s attitudes towards bisexuality, Beauvoir’s lies about her relationships with women may be understandable. But evidence, first discovered in Beauvoir’s and Sartre’s wartime diaries and letters by Edward Fullbrook, that Beauvoir lied about her work in philosophy and her influence on Sartre, is more perplexing (Fullbrook and Fullbrook 1993, 97-127; Fullbrook 1999). Beauvoir earned a graduate agrégation degree in philosophy and authored numerous philosophical novels and essays. But her philosophical work, including her metaphysical novel, She Came to Stay (1943)—the story of an unconventional solipsist who, forced to recognize the existence of other minds, resorts to murder as a solution to the problem of the Other—has traditionally been dismissed as a literary application of Sartre’s philosophy in Being and Nothingness (1943), a view paradoxically encouraged by Beauvoir herself. While the evidence that Beauvoir lied about her work in philosophy may be disconcerting, it does open up new areas of research, as I’ll suggest below, raising questions about her philosophy in She Came to Stay, her philosophical relationship with Sartre, and the wartime transformation in her philosophy that were foreclosed by the traditional reading of Beauvoir as Sartre’s follower. -/- . (shrink)
Cet ouvrage comble un vide dans l'histoire des femmes et du féminisme, qui ne s'était guère intéressée jusqu'ici à la période qui va de 1945 à 1970, à l'exception de travaux comme ceux de Dominique Loiseau sur le militantisme des femmes à Nantes ou notre recherche commune Michelle Zancarini-Fournel et moi-même sur des parcours de femmes à Saint-Étienne, incluant les années 1950. Grâce à ce livre, nous disposons maintenant, d'une bibliographie assez complète sur le féminisme françai..
La vie d’Antoine-Jean Solier, protestant rouergat établi à Marseille comme négociant à la fin du xviiie siècle, a été scandée par l’écriture. Au fil de ses textes autobiographiques se révèle le for privé d’un homme pourtant peu enclin aux confidences. Le fils, le frère, le mari et le père s’expriment sous sa plume au gré des circonstances, esquissant le portrait complexe d’un être à la charnière de deux époques et de deux sensibilités. Porteur d’une tradition familiale construite sur de fortes (...) solidarités, tant professionnelles que confessionnelles, Antoine-Jean appartient aussi à cette génération des Lumières ouverte sur l’individu, dont la relation au divin se détend au profit d’une sensibilité plus humaniste. Ses écrits témoignent ainsi de toute l’ambiguïté de la relation à l’autre, selon le statut, le genre ou la place de chacun au sein de sa famille. (shrink)
1. ProlégomènesL’usage de méthodes mathématiques pour traiter de données textuelles a une longue tradition. On se souvient que c’est en étudiant Pouchkine que Markov a élaboré ses chaînes. La linguistique mathématique (qui dépasse de très loin l’analyse des données textuelles) a connu un peu partout un essor important et a fourni des modèles à bon nombre de travaux portant sur le langage (Chomsky, Harris, Montague, …). On connaît aussi, via des mathématiques fort sophistiquées, la profonde in..
Malebranche's conception of imagination is often thought to be entirely contained in Book II of La Recherche de la vérité, which aims at destroying the beliefs and false theories resulting from the untempered use of that faculty. And yet Malebranche shows, in Book VI of the same work, that imagination has an essential function in the construction of science, particularly when it comes to producing geometrical models for phenomena; and it is, from the point of view of cognition, a singular (...) cunning of reason which associates the presence of corporeal affects in the mind, and ideas, which enlighten it without touching it. This conception rests upon unacknowledged quotations from the Regulae ad directionem ingenii, which Malebranche must have had at hand while working on the Recherche. At stake is, for us, the precise understanding of the relation between mathematics and imagination, first in the Regulae and then in the Recherche, in the general context of the project of a universal science or mathesis universalis. (shrink)
My article focuses on Le Théâtre existentialiste by Simone de Beauvoir, recently translated and published in the volume of the Beauvoir Series on her literary writings. The first part introduces the original sound recording of this text and the circumstances behind its possible production in New York City in 1947 and my discovery of it at Wellesley College in 1996. The second part analyzes the divisions of Beauvoir's remarks as she presents Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and their (...) principal plays from the period of the Occupation: The Flies, No Exit, and Caligula. The third part then evaluates certain of Beauvoir's key concepts in terms of how they were able to define adequately the substance of existentialist theater for a postwar American audience and whether they remain valid for a more contemporary theatrical public some six decades later. (shrink)
Since her death in 1986 and the publication of her letters and diaries in 1990, interest in the philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir has never been greater. In this engaging and timely volume, Margaret A. Simons and an international group of philosophers present 16 essays that reveal Beauvoir as one of the century’s most important and influential thinkers. As they set Beauvoir’s work into dialogue with Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, Foucault, Levinas, and others, these essays consider questions such (...) as Beauvoir’s philosophical relationship with Sartre; her ethic of the erotic; her views on marriage, motherhood, and female friendship; and her interpretations of oppression and liberation. This book discusses the full range of Beauvoir’s work, including The Second Sex, her unpublished diaries, autobiographical writings, novels, and philosophical essays, and broadens the scope and interpretive context of her unique philosophy. Contributors are Nancy Bauer, Debra Bergoffen, Suzanne Laba Cataldi, Edward Fullbrook, Eva Gothlin, Sara Heinämaa, Laura Hengehold, Stacy Keltner, Michèle Le Doeuff, Ann Murphy, Shannon M. Mussett, Margaret A. Simons, Ursula Tidd, Andrea Veltman, Karen Vintges, Julie Ward, Gail Weiss. (shrink)