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Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986)

Author of The Second Sex [abridged English translation by H. M. Parshley]

177+ Works 24,795 Members 233 Reviews 104 Favorited

About the Author

Simone de Beauvoir, 1908 - 1986 Simone de Beauvoir was born January 9, 1908 in Paris, France to a respected bourgeois family. Her father was a lawyer, her mother a housewife, and together they raised two daughters to be intelligent, inquisitive individuals. de Beauvoir attended the elementary show more school Cours Desir in 1913, then L'Institute Sainte Nary under the tutelage of Robert Garric, followed by the Institute Catholique in Paris, before finally attending the Sorbonne, where she graduated from in 1929. It was there that she met the man who would become her life long friend and companion, John Paul Sartre, who contributed to her philosophy of life. She is perhaps best know for her novel entitled "The Second Sex", which describes the ideal that women are an indescribable "other", something "made, not born", and a declaration of feminine independence. After graduating from the Sorbonne, de Beauvoir went on to teach Latin at Lycee Victor Duruy, philosophy at a school in Marseilles, and a few other teaching positions before coming to teach at the Sorbonne. During the course of her twelve years of teaching, from 1931 to 1943, de Beauvoir developed the basis for her philosophical thought. She used her formal philosophy background to also comment on feminism and existentialism. Her personal philosophy was that freedom of choice is man's utmost gift of value. Acts of goodness make one more free, acts of evil decrease that selfsame freedom. In 1945, de Beauvoir and Sartre founded and edited Le Temps Modernes, a monthly review of philosophical thought and trends. In 1943, with the money she had earned from teaching, de Beauvoir turned her full attention to writing, producing first "L'Envitee", then "Pyrrhus et Cineas" in 1944. In 1948, she wrote perhaps her most famous philosophical work, "The Ethics of Ambiguity". "The Second Sex", regarded by many as the seminal work in the field of feminism, is her most famous work. Other works include "The Coming of Age", which addresses society's condemnation of old age, the award winning novel "The Mandarins", "A Very Easy Death", about the death of her mother and a four part biography. In "The Woman Destroyed", a collection of two long stories and one short novel, de Beauvoir discusses middle age. One of her last novels was in the form of a diary recording; it told of the slow death of her life-long compatriot, Jean Paul Sartre. On April 14, 1986, Simone de Beauvoir, one of the mothers of feminism, passed away in her home in Paris. (Bowker Author Biography) show less


Works by Simone de Beauvoir

The Second Sex (1953) 2,415 copies
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter (1958) 2,096 copies
The Mandarins (1956) 1,739 copies
The Woman Destroyed (1967) 1,532 copies
The Ethics Of Ambiguity (1948) 1,215 copies
She Came to Stay (1943) 1,102 copies
A Very Easy Death (1964) 1,069 copies
The Prime of Life (1960) 902 copies
The Blood of Others (1948) 777 copies
All Men Are Mortal (1946) — Author — 756 copies
Les Belles Images (1966) 601 copies
The Coming of Age (1960) 484 copies
Adieux: a Farewell to Sartre (1981) 452 copies
Force of Circumstance (1963) 410 copies
All Said and Done (1972) 388 copies
The Inseparables (2019) 295 copies
America Day by Day (1960) 270 copies
Letters to Sartre (1991) 229 copies
Les Mandarins : Tome 1 (1954) 125 copies
La Force des choses, tome 1 (1963) 122 copies
Misverstand in Moskou (2013) 111 copies
After The second sex : conversations with Simone De Beauvoir (1983) — some editions; Author — 110 copies
Les Mandarins : Tome 2 (1954) 109 copies
Must We Burn de Sade? (1953) 96 copies
The Independent Woman (2008) 70 copies
Toinen sukupuoli (1980) 41 copies
Pariisi 1939-44 (1960) 29 copies
Wij vrouwen (1981) 23 copies
Pyrrhus et Cinéas (1986) 19 copies
Who Shall Die? (1945) 18 copies
Autoritratto a settant'anni (1975) — interviewer — 17 copies
La force de l'âge T. 1 (2001) 16 copies
Marcelle (2014) 11 copies
Der Wille zum Glück (1980) 5 copies
Cartas a Sartre (1996) 4 copies
La vieillesse. Tome 2 (1970) — Author — 3 copies
Privilèges (1955) 3 copies
Memoires: volumes 1 et 2 (2018) 3 copies
La donna e la creatività (2001) 3 copies
Paroles de femmes (1999) 3 copies
Mémoires - Tome 1 (2018) 3 copies
Yıkılmış Kadın (2020) 2 copies
Monoloog 1 copy
Kadın 1 copy
MIKESHA 1 copy
The Vagabond 1 copy
Olgunluk çağı (1991) 1 copy
Olgunluk Cagi 2 (1991) 1 copy
Per Djamila Boupacha (2023) 1 copy
L'invite 1 copy
KONUK KIZ 1 copy
Veda Töreni (2019) 1 copy

Associated Works

History (1974) — Foreword, some editions — 1,391 copies
The 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings (1785) — Introduction, some editions — 1,217 copies
Dirty Hands (1948) — Contributor, some editions — 808 copies
Treblinka (1966) — Foreword, some editions — 632 copies
The Assassin's Cloak: An Anthology of the World's Greatest Diarists (2000) — Contributor, some editions — 555 copies
The Bastard (1964) — Foreword, some editions — 507 copies
The Norton Book of Women's Lives (1993) — Contributor — 411 copies
Cries of the Spirit: A Celebration of Women's Spirituality (2000) — Contributor — 375 copies
The Essential Feminist Reader (2007) — Contributor — 321 copies
Love Letters (1996) — Contributor — 184 copies
The Phenomenology Reader (2002) — Contributor — 96 copies
The Penguin Book of Erotic Stories by Women (1995) — Contributor — 82 copies
The Grim Reader: Writings on Death, Dying, and Living On (1997) — Contributor — 61 copies
The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century Protest (1998) — Contributor — 31 copies
Philosophy now : an introductory reader (1972) — Contributor — 25 copies
Philosophical Issues: A Contemporary Introduction (1972) — Contributor — 17 copies
Die Reise nach Sofia: Roman (1986) — Vorwort, some editions — 17 copies
The bird has no wings : letters of Peter Schwiefert (1974) — Foreword, some editions — 16 copies
Bluebeard and Other Fairy Tales (1964) — Introduction — 13 copies
Simone de Beauvoir. Rebellin und Wegbereiterin. (1999) — Associated Name — 8 copies
Simone de Beauvoir (2013) — Contributor — 5 copies
À cause d'elles (1985) — Preface — 3 copies
Les Temps Modernes (1981) — Editor — 2 copies
Les temps Modernes N° 407 - Les redresseurs de morts. (1980) — Contributor — 2 copies
LES TEMPS MODERNES N 448, NOV. 1983 (1983) — Editor — 1 copy


20th century (318) anthology (203) autobiography (549) Beauvoir (211) biography (510) classics (92) diary (152) erotica (83) existentialism (537) feminism (1,475) feminist theory (103) fiction (953) France (584) French (668) French literature (815) gender (167) gender studies (124) history (329) Holocaust (261) letters (103) literature (394) memoir (376) non-fiction (1,031) novel (257) Paris (88) philosophy (1,214) poetry (98) politics (115) read (105) Roman (245) sexuality (89) short stories (93) Simone de Beauvoir (237) sociology (195) to-read (1,367) translation (122) unread (160) women (433) women's studies (296) WWII (186)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Beauvoir, Simone de
Legal name
Beauvoir, Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de
Other names
Castor, Le (pseudonym)
Date of death
Burial location
Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris, Île-de-France, France
Country (for map)
Paris, France
Place of death
Paris, France
Places of residence
Paris, France
Institut Catholique (Mathematics)
Institut Sainte-Marie (Literature/Languages)
The Sorbonne, Paris, France (Philosophy)
political activist (show all 7)
Sartre, Jean-Paul (partner)
Algren, Nelson (lover)
Les Temps Modernes
Awards and honors
Austrian State Prize for European Literature (1978)
Jerusalem Prize (1975)
Prix Goncourt (1954)
Short biography
Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris to a devoutly Catholic bourgeois family. She was educated at a convent boarding school and originally wanted to become a nun; however, she lost her faith at age 14. After passing her baccalaureate exams, she studied mathematics at the Institut Catholique and literature and languages at the Institut Sainte-Marie, before entering the Sorbonne to study philosophy. She wrote her thesis on Leibniz. She sat in on courses at the École Normale Supérieure to prepare for the agrégation (postgrad exam) in philosophy, and it was there that she met Jean-Paul Sartre. De Beauvoir became a teacher, intellectual, and well-known writer, beginning with her first novel, She Came to Stay (1943). She also produced philosophical essays, plays, memoirs, travel diaries, and newspaper articles, and served as an editor of the influential literary review Les Temps modernes. She won the Prix Goncourt for her 1954 novel The Mandarins. De Beauvoir became a key figure in the struggle for women's rights in France and worldwide, sparked by her feminist work The Second Sex (1949). With her lifelong companion Sartre, she was a central player in the important philosophical debates of the 20th century.



The Second Sex — 2016 group read in Feminist Theory (November 2017)
Second Sex--thoughts? in Feminist Theory (March 2016)
de Beauvoir : The Second Sex in Author Theme Reads (October 2013)
de Beauvoir class and paper in Philosophy and Theory (March 2008)


If there's anything more irritating than the Roman à clef, with its cheap lacquering of lived experience, it's café-dwelling, pernod-sniffing French intellectuals with their unshakeable disdain for all things tangible. There's a paragraph on page 132 of this book which struck me with thunderous poetic force. Two of the characters come across a street market:

"Here were old shoes, gramophone records, silks that were falling to pieces, enamel bowls, chipped crockery, all on the bare muddy ground. Dark-skinned women clothed in brightly-coloured tatters were sitting on newspapers or old rugs, leaning up against the hoardings."

The reason this passage, which would be unremarkable in a normal novel, hit the way it did is that it deals with real, physical, empirical things; objects made of matter. It's about the only time in the book that reality — the thing that great fiction renders immediate and indelible in its infinite richness and variety — intrudes on the vaporous emotional-intellectual existence of these unbearable self-deluding characters.

It's doubly frustrating, because the author manages some acute descriptions of jealousy, the ugliest, least assuageable emotion, and the insidious way it stilettos its victims. But it's less than they deserve. The presence of Sartre and de Beauvoir in Paris in the late 30's was surely an even better reason to flee that part of the world than what was unfolding across the border to the east.
… (more)
yarb | 12 other reviews | May 17, 2024 |
As a fundimental feminist text, this was actually a surprisingly interesting read. I disagreed with so much of it. Mostly I don't support the general idea that "liberty" and "what is natural" is always positive. In my opinion, women by nature of their biological position are always at a slight physical and general disadvantage (based on their need to undergo pregnancy, for example). Creating a system in which this basic problem is removed is an important step, but to call this new system "natural" was frustrating to me. This is not "liberation" in the sense that she means it, but the creation of equality. It is not our social systems that cause inequality, but biology. Our social systems must correct for biological inequity, and blaming them for causing or widening the biological issues is sort of silly. Not to mention that I felt her entire interpretation of the biological differences were silly (men and women put in an equal amount of effort in the creation of a child? really?).… (more)
mrbearbooks | 31 other reviews | Apr 22, 2024 |
This is a subtle and evocative study of character and relationships. I read it some 40 years ago as I was improving my French, which forced me to absorb it attentively at a slower rate and probably enjoy it more.
sfj2 | 12 other reviews | Apr 3, 2024 |
they really don't make adults like this anymore
avv999 | 15 other reviews | Feb 16, 2024 |


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