Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Woman of the Week - Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir is one of my favorite writers of all time. She was a French feminist theorist, existentialist philosopher and political activist. De Beauvoir was born in 1908, and she died in 1986. Her most famous book is "The Second Sex." I have read most of it, but it's a huge book, and I’m still working on finishing it.

Her novels are amazing. I love "The Woman Destroyed." The main character is a woman in her mid-forties who discovers that her husband is having an affair. Her life unravels as it becomes clear that her only option is to stay with her philandering husband because she doesn't have any means of supporting herself. It's Simone de Beauvoir's cautionary tale about getting married and then losing your self-worth and independence.

Simone de Beauvoir never married. She and Jean Paul Sartre were partners, but they never got married. They had an open relationship, which they both claimed to be okay with, but their relationship was volatile. Sartre's most famous book, and his masterpiece, "Being and Nothingness," was heavily influenced by De Beauvoir. Her novel "She Came to Stay," which was written before "Being and Nothingness," outlined several existentialist ideas that were featured in Sartre's book. No one likes a copycat!

One of my favorite experiences in Paris was visiting Simone de Beauvoir's grave in Montparnasse cemetery. While we were trying to find the cemetery, my husband and I took a wrong turn, and we ended up in front of the apartment building where De Beauvoir lived for over 20 years. That was pretty exciting! Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre were buried in the same grave. I suppose that's a creepy way.

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