Today, January 9th is the birthday anniversary of French writer, philosopher and intellectual Simone de Beauvoir.
She was a feminist and she made a huge impact because of her ideas and point of view of women.
She wrote essays, novels, biographies and an autobiography.
Also monographs on politics, philosophy and social issues.
She had a famous, very well known (and controversial) relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre.
Both Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre were the most famous philosophers in the 20th century France.
Sartre and Beauvoir always read each other’s work. Debates rage on about the extent to which they influenced each other in their existentialist works, such as Sartre’s Being and Nothingness and Beauvoir’s She Came to Stay. However, recent studies of Beauvoir’s work focus on influences other than Sartre, including Hegel and Leibniz.
Since she was young, Simone de Beauvoir was intellectually precocious, fuelled by her father’s encouragement; he reportedly would boast, “Simone thinks like a man!”
After passing baccalaureate exams in mathematics and philosophy in 1925, she studied mathematics at the Institut Catholique and literature/languages at the Institut Sainte-Marie. She then studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, writing her thesis on Leibniz for Léon Brunschvicg.
She first worked with Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Claude Lévi-Strauss, when all three completed their practice teaching requirements at the same secondary school. Although not officially enrolled, she sat in on courses at the École Normale Supérieure in preparation for the agrégation in philosophy, a highly competitive postgraduate examination which serves as a national ranking of students. It was while studying for the agrégation that she met École Normale students Jean-Paul Sartre, Paul Nizan and René Maheu (who gave her the lasting nickname “Castor”, or beaver). The jury for the agrégation narrowly awarded Sartre first place instead of Beauvoir, who placed second and, at age 21, was the youngest person ever to pass the exam.
Beauvoir died of pneumonia in Paris, aged 78.
She is buried next to Sartre at the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris.
Among some of her works are:
L’Invitée (1943) (English – She Came to Stay)
Tous les hommes sont mortels (1946) (English – All Men are Mortal)
The Woman Destroyed (1967)
Le deuxième sexe (The Second Sex)
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter (1958)
Adieux: A Farewell to Sartre (1981)
Must We Burn Sade? (1955)
Le Sang des autres (1945) (English – The Blood of Others)
Pour une morale de l’ambiguïté (1947) (English – The Ethics of Ambiguity)
Remembering Simone de Beauvoir…