Simone de Beauvoir
- Category : Writers-Fiction
- Type : ME
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Penetration 4
French writer and existentialist teacher who fashioned an impressive literary career as a novelist, philosopher, essayist and writer of memoirs. A prominent member of the young avant-garde Parisian intelligentsia in the '40s, she was the presiding celebrity of the Existentialist movement along with Jean Paul Sartre, her life companion in an open relationship. They never lived in the same residence, nor did they require sexual fidelity of each other but they did keep a close and steady relationship, seeing each other daily from the time they met at the Sorbonne in 1929 until Sartre died in 1980. She looked on marriage as an obscene, bourgeois institution that put women in an inferior position. In rejecting marriage, she also rejected children, noting that she had escaped most of women's bondages.
Beauvoir was the eldest daughter of a middle-class lawyer, raised Catholic with a convent education. She sided with her dad as an atheist at 15. While at the Sorbonne, she gained the nickname "Beaver" for being industrious, a name by which she was known for the rest of her life.
In 1947 she made a trip to New York for a lecture tour where she met Nelson Algren, author of "The Man With the Golden Arm." They began a passionate affair that continued intermittently for some 15 years. When they finally parted, it was with some bitterness, however, in her last letter to him in 1963, she wrote that she would love him forever.
She obtained math and philosophy degrees from the Sorbonne when she was 21, and taught there from 1931-1943, when she wrote her first novel. She regarded herself more as a Marxist than a feminist. With a stern, though unconventional morality, she devoted her full time to grappling with the taboos of her time in her writing. Her work, "The Second Sex," 1949, was hailed as a landmark examination of the position of women in a male-dominated word and sold over a million copies in paperback in the U.S. alone. In 1954, she won the Prix Goncourt, France's most coveted literary award, for her novel "The Mandarine." Her books include "The Prime of Life," 1962 and "Force of Circumstances," 1965.
Increasingly reclusive, Beauvoir died of pneumonia almost six years to the day after Sartre, on 14 April 1986 in Paris. She was 78.