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Simone de Beauvoir

Creating a Feminist Existence in the World

Sandrine Sanos

Publication Date - March 2016

ISBN: 9780190278090

256 pages
5 x 8 inches

In Stock

Profiles one of the most important women of the twentieth century


Simone de Beauvoir: Creating a Feminist Existence in the World situates Beauvoir's life and works in historical context, charting how she was enmeshed in most twentieth-century events and developments ranging from World War Two, to Decolonization, and to the Cold War. Her work considered numerous topics of contemporary relevance, like socialist politics, feminism, war crimes, human rights, and the possibilities and limits of political activism in support of social justice. Building on recent scholarship, this biography focuses especially on the colonial, transnational, and postcolonial influences that shaped Beauvoir and emphasizes her paradoxical and complicated relationship to politics. Written in accessible and lively prose, the book is divided into seven chapters and includes lesser-known photos of Beauvoir alongside primary sources of both historical and contemporary interest.

We live in a global age where big concepts like "globalization" often tempt us to forget the personal side of the past. The titles in The World in a Life series aim to revive these meaningful lives. Each one shows us what it was like to live on a world historical stage. Brief, inexpensive, and thematic, each book can be read in a week, fit within a wide range of curricula, and shed insight into a particular place or time. Four to six short primary sources at the end of each volume sharpen the reader's view of an individual's impact on world history.

About the Author(s)

Sandrine Sanos is Joe B. Frantz Associate Professor of Modern European History at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi. She is the author of The Aesthetics of Hate: Far-Right Intellectuals, Antisemitism, and Gender in 1930s France (2012).


"This is a terrific book. We have very little that is historical on Beauvoir, which is ironic and a shame, given Beauvoir's determination to be so fully 'engaged' in her time. Sanos's biography is not only historical, it is good, up-to-date historical, and it raises and lays out issues that are rarely considered by the purview of Beauvoir scholars, including Vichy, the Holocaust and its aftermath, and the Algerian war."--Judith G. Coffin, University of Texas at Austin

"Sanos does an excellent job of weaving together Beauvoir's life with her writings, an especially challenging task given the prodigious number and the wide variety of Beauvoir's publications, from philosophical works to essays, short stories, novels, and a series of memoirs written over the course of her long and event-filled life. It provides clear and concise explanations of Beauvoir's philosophy, and in particular of the genesis and central ideas contained in her most internationally influential work, The Second Sex. Sanos also situates Beauvoir's life and writings into the historical context of the twentieth century, whose many dramatic and traumatic world-historical events Beauvoir experienced, wrote about, and incorporated into her philosophical works. Doing all this in a very short biography represents a remarkable achievement."--Sarah Fishman, University of Houston

"This is a well written and compelling short biography of Simone de Beauvoir. The scholarship is solid and up to date, providing the historical context to help readers understand Beauvoir's life, ideas, and writing. Sanos provides just the right amount of history mixed with information on Beauvoir's life and work to make it a lively and informative read."--Darcie Fontaine, University of South Florida

"This is an excellent introductory and overview text written in accessible prose. It not only situates Beauvoir and the vicissitudes of her thought, writings, and other activities within her historical context and intellectual milieu, but it also uses one of the twentieth century's foremost intellectuals to illuminate the history of France and Europe."--Marc Matera, University of California, Santa Cruz

Table of Contents

    List of Illustrations
    List of Maps

    1. The Dutiful Daughter: Obligations, Hopes, and Possibilities: 1909-1939
    2. Living Through the War: Responsibilities and Choices: 1939-1944
    3. Becoming an Author: Desires, Dialogues, and Engagement: 1945-1954
    4. Being A Woman: The Making of A Feminist Philosophy: 1949 and After
    5. Being Free in the World: Ethics and Engagement: 1954-1964
    6. Acting in the World: Politics, Paradoxes, and Disillusions: 1961-1970
    7. Reflecting on the World: Feminism, Fame, and Scandal: 1970-1986

    Primary Documents & Study Questions:

    "An Eye for an Eye" (1946)
    Introduction, The Second Sex (1949)
    Introduction, Djamila Boupacha (1962)
    Chapter 7, The Force of Circumstance (1963)
    Introduction, The Bobigny Affair Report (1973)

    Further Reading

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