Simone de Beauvoir is a French thinker and author. Many consider him one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century. Books, articles, and diaries are Simone de Beauvoir memorabilia for the future; Valuable resources in which the results of years of research and study on various topics, from death and the cause of existence to political issues and perhaps most importantly, issues related to women and their role in society can be traced and studied. Married to Simone de Beauvoir Jean-Paul Sartre, A prominent French philosopher and writer, was another reason why his name became more widely known. In the following, we will introduce you to the philosophy and the most important books of Simone de Beauvoir. Stay with us.
A little more about the life of Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir was born in 1908 into a Catholic and religious family. His family was from the middle class (the bourgeois landlord class) and had a good financial situation. The bankruptcy of his father in the years after World War I made things even more difficult for Simon and his family.
It was here that the sacrifices of Simon’s mother, François, paved the way for her children to develop their talents. Never living without a maid, after her husband went bankrupt, she took on household chores and other chores to enroll her daughters at the Sorbonne (France’s most prestigious and best university in Paris).
Extensive research and studies
Simone de Beauvoir, from here on out, spent most of her time researching and studying. His field of study, like any other great thinker, was vast. From classical literature and ancient Latin texts to modern literature and philosophy.
He met Jean-Paul Sartre at university. A number of students registered to take a very prestigious exam in the field of philosophy. Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir were also among these students. Sartre came in first with the highest ranking, followed by Simon. It was from that time that they became interested in each other and their love lasted almost to the end of their lives. The special interest of both thinkers in the philosophy of existentialism was one of the foundations that kept their relationship strong.
Simone de Beauvoir, as she put it, felt more like “being” than “being a woman.” Of course, she was not the only woman who did not experience the limitations of her predecessors. Many of Simone de Beauvoir’s contemporaries were able to study, work, and publish books and articles freely with men.
The last years of life
In the last years of his life, if we consider the characters of his novels as evidence of his feelings, he was not in a good mental condition. Many of the main characters in his final novels struggle with disturbing thoughts such as suicide. During his lifetime, he was not praised as he deserved, that is, as a genuine philosopher and thinker. It did not take long for his name to be immortalized by the likes of Julia Kristova (a Bulgarian-French philosopher and literary critic).
Perhaps the main reason was that his name always faded in the shadow of his famous wife, Jean-Paul Sartre. It was during these years that he realized that the price of free love for women would be much heavier than for men. He died in 1986 in Paris, his hometown.
Introducing the most important books of Simone de Beauvoir
The works of Simone de Beauvoir are very diverse. In the following, we will introduce and review 8 books of Simone de Beauvoir in more detail.
Part One: Articles
1. The second sex
Translator: Qasim Sanawi
number of pages: 1171 (in 2 volumes)
In this voluminous book, Simone de Beauvoir finds ample opportunity to comment in detail on one of his main concerns. Why in societies women are considered the weaker and more emotional sex and men the stronger and wiser sex. According to Simone de Beauvoir, the natural and social sciences, the literary, social, political and religious traditions of European societies, hand in hand, have created a world in which impossible and conflicting ideals of femininity have produced an ideology in which Women are considered weaker and inferior as beings. The first part of the book is more about these issues.
One of the important tasks that Simone de Beauvoir does in this book is the phenomenological analysis of the female body. In doing so, it addresses issues that call into question popular beliefs about women being weaker.
In the final sections of the book, the topic is more about solutions. What progress and achievements women have made so far and what they need to do from now on. That mere access to various facilities is not enough for women, and more work needs to be done on the populist mentality of societies, in which the original and natural human being is considered a man and the other a woman.
2. Critique of folk wisdom
Translator: Mustafa Rahimi
Publisher: Agah (Tehran, 1975)
number of pages: 115
This short book, translated by Shiva Mostafa Rahimi, contains four examples of the most mature and best articles by Simone de Beauvoir. Four short essays entitled “Critique of Folk Wisdom”, “Moral Idealism and Political Realism”, “Literature and Philosophy”, and “Eye to Eye”.
In the first article, popular wisdom is criticized. Most of us have a laid back attitude when it comes to painting a picture about ourselves. Simone de Beauvoir, according to what this article proves, believes that many of these examples are contradictory and, in general, are not ideas that can be relied on in life.
In part of the book we read:
Existentialism does not condemn human beings to inescapable misery. If man is not naturally good, he is not naturally bad either; In the beginning there is none. It gets better or worse depending on whether he takes his freedom or denies it. This is in his hands. Good and evil belong on the other side of nature, on the other hand. That is why reality can be described with complete neutrality. A case for impact [= ناراحتی] is not. Reality is neither sad nor happy. Event is event and no more […]. Man is alone and in control of his own destiny; Only if he wants to take control of his own destiny. This is what existentialism says, and that means optimism.
Simone de Beauvoir, Critique of Folk Wisdom, pp. 32 and 33.
Part II: Novels
Many of Simone de Beauvoir’s books are his novels. He was particularly interested in presenting his ideas and beliefs in the form of fiction; Therefore, in finding the key to his philosophies and ideas, his novels are as important as his other works. In the following, we introduce novels by Simone de Beauvoir that have been translated into Persian:
3. The blood of others
Translator: Mahvash Behnam
Publisher: Jami (Tehran, 2017)
number of pages: 304
The story of the novel is related to the time when Paris was occupied by Nazi Germany. A young bourgeois boy named Jean has just joined the French Resistance. The main narrative of the story is about how a relationship is formed between this young boy and a girl named Helen.
One of the main themes of this story is the concept of freedom. What it basically means and its place; How real and how imaginary. Freedom was also one of Simone de Beauvoir’s concerns, and he thought and wrote a lot about it.
Another interesting issue that arises throughout the story is the particular view of existentialist philosophy on “resistance to cooperation.” The view can be expressed in simple terms: If we can not reject something, that is, we can not reject it, it is exactly the equivalent of having chosen it ourselves. To resist means to accept.
Translator: Parviz Shahdi
Publisher: New World (Tehran, 2013)
number of pages: 1102 (in 2 volumes)
The Mandarins is perhaps the most famous novel by Simone de Beauvoir. In this voluminous two-volume novel, Simone de Beauvoir, throughout the story, provides a true account of the lives of the intellectuals of his time: led by the likes of Albert Camus (creator of The Plague and The Alien, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Arthur Koestler (A British-Hungarian journalist who once served in the German Communist Party until he retired in 1938 and joined the opposition intellectuals).
The confusion of intellectuals in the years after World War II and their inability to find their way is one of the main issues you will find in the novel. Also information about the socio-political situation of the world at that time and related issues.
5. Everyone dies
Translator: Mehdi Sahabi
Publisher: New publishing culture
number of pages: 413
The main character in this novel is concerned with achieving immortality. He wants to live forever, to overcome time, and he thinks that by doing so he can overcome the eternal failure of mankind and achieve happiness. He succeeds and attains eternal life; But contrary to what he thought, immortality not only does not make him happy, it turns all his passion into despair and disregard.
In the end, he finds the right human face in one of his descendants. One who uses all his abilities in the present, helps others and himself, and life is like events that happen one after the other until there is complete extinction and nothingness.
6. A very quiet death
Translator: سیروس ذکاء
number of pages: 128
Aging and death are two familiar themes in Simone de Beauvoir’s books, which in this beautiful novel are measured and studied in different situations and from different perspectives. The story is about a time when Simone de Beauvoir’s mother was sick and did not have much time to live. During the story, the reader will get acquainted with the different thoughts and ideas of the main characters of the story.
Excerpts from the story include interesting explanations of Simone de Beauvoir’s mother’s sacrifices after her father’s bankruptcy, such as the following:
My father did not leave a single dinar for my fifty-four-year-old mother. He passed exams, saw courses, and finally got a certificate […]. After the war he decided to sew at home. At that time I could help with the house expenses; But he did not like unemployment. Because he wanted to live the way he wanted to, he had a thousand jobs to do.
This story is a kind of biography and the feelings and events in it are very real.
Part 3: Memoirs and Biographies
In these works, Simone de Beauvoir, in complete simplicity and purity, speaks and writes about his ideas as if he were talking to himself. Surely reading these works can be helpful for you and you will find valuable information in them.
7. the memories
Translator: Qasim Sanawi
number of pages: 2833 (in 4 volumes)
This 4-volume book published in Iran actually contains memoirs written by Simone de Beauvoir at different times in his life; For example, the main title of the first volume of the book is “Memoirs of an Obedient Girl”, which describes the memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir in his youth (1958). What troubles it is to grow up in a bourgeois family, what young Simon, with his orthodox and progressive ideas, had to do to cope with family members and other issues he went through at the time. Perhaps the best book to get acquainted with Simone de Beauvoir’s thoughts and ideas is his memoirs.
8. Farewell to Sartre
Translator: Hamed Fooladvand
number of pages: 456
It is another valuable work by Simone de Beauvoir in the genre of autobiography. The narrative of this work is about the last decade of Jean-Paul Sartre’s life. In addition to the historical information he will have about Sartre’s life during this period, the reader will have good information about both French thinkers.
Many parts of the book contain conversations between Simon and Sartre, and they share their thoughts and ideas with each other. The result of this joint effort is a valuable book called Farewell to Sartre.
If you are familiar with the character and books of Simone de Beauvoir, you can share your information and experiences with us and the audience of “How” in the “Post a Comment” section; Likewise, if you find a book interesting and read it. Your feedback on each of these books is valuable to us, and we can learn new things from you.