Simone de Beauvoir
9 January 1908 - 14 April 1986
Simone de Beauvoir was a writer, an existentialist philosopher and a social theorist. Her name is a synonym for feminism. Her book 'The Second Sex', which was released in 1953, is the ultimate feminist classic.
The Life of Simone de Beauvoir
Born in Paris, France on January 9, 1908, she was the older of two sisters. Her father, a lawyer and amateur actor, who hoped for but never got a son, told her that she had 'the brain of a man'.
She was in a life-long relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre, however she chose to never marry, nor share a joint household.
De Beauvoir's "The Ethics of Ambiguity", published in 1947, is by many considered to be the best entry book into French existentialism. Praised for its clarity and simplicity while some other similar works, including Sartre's "Being and Nothingness", were much harder to understand.
After the second World War De Beauvoir and Sartre were editors (and co-founders) of the political magazine "Les Temps Modernes" (French for 'Modern Times'). The title was inspired by Charlie Chaplin's movie from 1936. She also used the magazine to test her ideas on a small scale and promote her work. She remained an editor of "Les Temps Modernes" until her death.
Her life-defining work ,"The Second Sex" (Le deuxième sexe), was originally published in 1949, when she was 41 years old, as a book in two volumes.
"In the chapter 'Woman: Myth and Reality' of The Second Sex, Beauvoir argued that men had made women the 'Other' in society by putting a false aura of 'mystery' around them. She argued that men used this as an excuse not to understand women or their problems and not to help them, and that this stereotyping was always done in societies by the group higher in the hierarchy to the group lower in the hierarchy. She wrote that this also happened on the basis of other categories of identity, such as race, class, and religion. But she said that it was nowhere more true than with sex in which men stereotyped women and used it as an excuse to organize society into a patriarchy."
Quote from Wikipedia
Many scholars have argued that the original translation of "Le deuxième sexe" into English was incomplete (certain parts have been simply left out). The severe editing has at times even distorted her intended message. In an 1985 interview even Simone De Beauvoir requested a more true translation of her work.
Today both versions of "The Second Sex" are available. The "new" edition was translated by Constance Borde and published in 1989. The illustration to the left shows the cover of the the new edition of "The Second Sex".