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Simone de Beauvoir (1908 - 1986)

Related: France - Sartre - feminism

Simone de Beauvoir anticipated the sexually-charged feminism of Erica Jong and Germaine Greer. Algren, no paragon of primness himself, was outraged by the frank way de Beauvoir later described her American sexual experiences in Les Mandarins (dedicated to Algren and on whose character Lewis Brogan is based) and elsewhere, venting his outrage when reviewing American translations of her work. [Aug 2006]

"Must We Burn Sade?" - Simone de Beauvoir, edition shown: Gallimard (June 29, 1972)

"Faut-il brûler Sade?"(1952) - Simone de Beauvoir [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Born Simone Lucie-Ernestine-Marie-Bertrand de Beauvoir on January 9, 1908 in Paris, France, she studied at the Sorbonne where she met lifelong companion Jean-Paul Sartre. In 1981 she wrote A Farewell to Sartre (La Cérémonie des adieux), a painful account of Sartre's last years. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simone_de_Beauvoir

Marquis De Sade [...]

As Simone de Beauvoir noted in her controversial Marquis de Sade essay: "Pleasant sensations are too mild; it is when the flesh is torn and bleeding that it is revealed most dramatically as flesh."

Faut-il brûler Sade? aka Must We Burn Sade? Simone de Beauvoir, in Les Temps Modernes, 1951-2. Reprinted in [93].

Must We Burn Sade?

by Laura Wilson
Emerson College

In 1952, the Paris journal Les Temps Modernes featured an essay by Simone do Beaovoir that kindled controversy even within the radical community to which she belonged. Interestingly enough, "Must We Burn Sade?" appeared in print just as do Beauvoir wrote the final pages of her groundbreaking feminist tract, The Second Sex. The essay in Les Temps Moderns explored the psychological and philosophical dimensions of male sadism, daring to suggest that the Marquis do Sade's literary works were politically worthwhile. How so? Because, de Beauvoir argued, Sade admitted and articulated the troubling but real connections between power and eroticism (1). Although the essay focused on men, the question presented in its title continues to pose a daunting challenge to feminism. Must women burn Sade? What are feminists to make of women - both real and fictional who cooperate and take some pleasure in their own sexual domination? Do films portraying such disturbing female complicity serve only to enforce gender inequality? And, to pose the question more provocatively, is it possible for self-consciously feminist spectators to experience such representations as sexually pleasurable?

De Sade, Forerunner of Freud [...]

In a 1951 essay, "Must We Burn Sade," Simone de Beauvoir identifies Sade as a forerunner of Freud with an intuitive grasp of the nature of the human heart:


  1. The Marquis de Sade: an essay by Simone de Beauvoir (1953) - Simone de Beauvoir [Amazon US]

The Second Sex (1949) - Simone De Beauvoir

The Second Sex (1949) - Simone De Beauvoir [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The Second Sex (French: Le Deuxième Sexe, 1949) is the best known work of Simone de Beauvoir and a seminal text in twentieth-century feminism. It is a work on the treatment of women throughout history and often regarded as a major feminist work. In it, she argues that women throughout history have been defined as the "other" sex, an aberration from the "normal" male sex. It helped lead the way of second-wave feminism. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Second_Sex [Mar 2006]

Second-wave feminism
Second-wave feminism refers to a period of feminist activity beginning in the late 1960s and 1970s. It was concerned with independence and greater political action to improve women's rights.

If the period associated with First-wave feminism focused upon absolute rights such as suffrage (which led to women attaining the right to vote in the early part of the 20th century), the period of the second-wave feminist movement was concerned with the issue of economic equality (including the ability to have careers in addition to motherhood, or the right to choose not to have children) between the genders and addressed the rights of female minorities. One phenomenon included the recognition of lesbian women within the movement, due to the simultaneous rise of the gay rights movement, and the deliberate activism of lesbian feminist groups, such as the Lavender Menace. The developments led to explicit lesbian feminist campaigns and groups, and some feminists went further to argue that heterosexual sexual relationships automatically subordinated women, and that the only true independence could come in lesbian relationships ("lesbian separatism").

The second wave is sometimes linked with radical feminist theory. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-wave_feminism [Mar 2006]

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