Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir ( Paris , 9 of January of 1908 – ibid . 14 of April of 1986 ) was an author , teacher and philosopher French defender of human and women ‘s rights. 1 He wrote novels, essays, biographies and monographs on political, social and philosophical topics. His thinking is framed in the philosophical current of existentialism 2 and his work The second sex , is considered fundamental in the history of feminism . 3 He was a partner of the philosopher Jean Paul Sartre . 4


He was born on the family flat, located on the Parisian boulevard Raspail in the framework of a bourgeois family with very strict Christian morality. She was the daughter of Georges Bertrand de Beauvoir, who worked for a time as a lawyer and was an amateur actor, and of Françoise Brasseur, a deeply religious woman. She and her little sister Poupette with whom she always had a close relationship were educated in Catholic schools. 1 She was educated from her five years in the Cours Désir, where she used to be sent to the daughters of bourgeois families. His younger sister, Hélène (known by the nickname of Poupette), followed her two years later.

From his childhood, De Beauvoir stood out for his intellectual abilities, which made him finish first year of his class. She shared school brilliance with Elizabeth Lacoin (named Zaza in De Beauvoir’s autobiography), who quickly became her best friend.

As a teenager, on the other hand, he would rebel against family faith by declaring himself an atheist and considering that religion was a way of subjugating the human being. 1

After World War I , his maternal grandfather, Gustave Brasseur, then president of the Bank of the Meuse, filed for bankruptcy, precipitating the whole family in dishonor and shame. As a result of this family ruin, Simone’s parents were forced to leave the stately residence of the boulevard Raspail and to move to a dark apartment, located on a fifth floor without elevator in the street of Rennes. Georges de Beauvoir, who had planned to live with the money of his wife and family, saw his plans defrauded. The guilt Françoise felt then never left her throughout her life and the missing dowry became a familiar shame.

Little Simone suffered from the situation, and saw the relations between her parents deteriorated little by little. Important in the birth of Simone’s feminist political ideas, all her childhood will be marked by the fact of being born a woman: her father did not hide the fact that she had wanted a child, with the dream that she had studied in the Prestigious Polytechnic School of Paris . Many times he told Simone: “You have a man’s brain” by Beauvoir, Simone (1959). Silvina Bullrich, ed. Memories of a Formal Girl (1967 edition). Passionate about the theater, which he practiced as an amateur, he shared this taste with his wife and daughters, along with his love of literature. Georges de Beauvoir often told Simone that for him “the most beautiful office is that of writer” [ citation needed ] . With his wife, he shared the conviction that, given the mediocre economic condition in which the family was, the only hope for social improvement for his two daughters was the studies.

The De Beauvoir often spent the summer in Saint-Ybard , on the estate of Mayrignac in Correze . The park, founded around 1880 by his grandfather, Ernest Bertrand de Beauvoir, was acquired in the early 19th century by his great-grandfather, Narcisse Bertrand de Beauvoir. De Beauvoir narrated these happy times in her Memoirs of a Formal Girl . The contact with nature and the long solitary walks in the countryside gave rise to the spirit of the young Simone the ambition of an out of the ordinary destination.

At only fifteen, she was already determined on the form of this destiny: she wanted to be a writer. After graduating in 1925, De Beauvoir began her studies at the Catholic Institute in Paris , a private religious institution which was attended by girls of good family. There he completed his mathematical training while expanding his literary training at the Sainte-Marie Institute of Neuilly . After his first university year in Paris, he obtained certificates of general mathematics, literature and Latin. In 1926, he dedicated himself to study philosophy and obtained in June of 1927 his certificate of general philosophy. After these certifications, he graduated in letters, with specialization in philosophy, in the spring of 1928, after having also approved certifications of ethics and psychology. His university studies concluded in 1929 with the writing of a dissertation on Leibniz , culmination of his higher studies. 1

The teacher

After being an added teacher of philosophy in 1929, De Beauvoir, or Castor, nickname given by her friend Herbaud and Sartre continued to use, in a play on words between “Beauvoir” and beaver , in English, 5 prepared to be a teacher headline. His first destination was Marseille . Sartre himself was given a post in Le Havre in March 1931, and the prospect of separating from him destroyed De Beauvoir. So that they could be named in the same institute, Sartre proposed to him that they married to what she refused. In The Strength of Things , he explained why:

I have to say that I did not think of accepting that proposal for a second. Marriage multiplies by two the family obligations and all the social tasks. By modifying our relations with others, it would have fatally altered those that existed between us. The desire to preserve my own independence did not weigh heavily on my decision; It would have seemed artificial to me to seek in the absence a freedom which, in all sincerity, I could only find in my head and in my heart.

The following year, he managed to approach Sartre when he was transferred to Rouen , where he met Colette Audry, who also taught at the same high school. He maintained romantic relations with some of his students, among them Olga Kosakiewitcz and Bianca Bienenfeld: the pact that united Sartre allowed him to know these “contingent loves.” I also had a brief relationship with a student of Sartre, nicknamed “the little Bost, 6 future husband of Olga. Sartre also courted the girl, unable to conquer her.

This group of friends, who were called “the little family” among them, remained united until the death of its members, despite the slight tensions or the more serious conflicts that they crossed. Shortly before World War II , the Sartre-De Beauvoir couple were assigned to Paris. From 1936 to 1938, De Beauvoir taught at the Lycee Moliere, which was fired after having engaged in an affair with Bianca Bienenfeld, one of his students [ citation needed ] .

The publishers Gallimard and Grasset rejected his first novel, Primaldad of the spiritual , written between 1935 and 1937, that was published belatedly in 1979 with the title When the spiritual predominates . The Guest was published in 1943; In this novel, the writer described, through fictional characters, the relationship between Sartre, Olga and herself, while elaborating a philosophical reflection on the struggle between the consciences and the possibilities of reciprocity. It was an immediate editorial success that led her to be suspended in June 1943 of the National Education, after the presentation of a complaint for incitement to the perversion of minors in December 1941 by the mother of Nathalie Sorokine, one of her students. She was reintegrated as a teacher after the Liberation ; During the Occupation he worked for French free radio (“Radio Vichy”), where he organized programs dedicated to music.

The committed writer

With Sartre, Raymond Aron , Michel Leiris , Maurice Merleau-Ponty , Boris Vian and other leftist French intellectuals, he was the founder of a magazine, Les Temps Modernes , which sought to spread the existentialist current through contemporary literature. In parallel, she continued her personal productions: after the publication of several essays and novels where she spoke of her commitment to communism, atheism and existentialism, she became economically independent and devoted herself to being a writer. He traveled to many countries (US, China , Russia , Cuba …) where he met other communist personalities such as Fidel Castro , Che Guevara , Mao Zedong or Richard Wright . In the United States , he entered into a passionate relationship with the American writer Nelson Algren with whom he had an intense epistolary relationship, getting to exchange some three hundred letters.

Its literary consecration took place in 1949: the publication of The second sex , which sold more than twenty-two thousand copies in the first week, caused scandal and was the subject of lively literary and philosophical debates. The Holy See , for example, was against the test. François Mauriac, who always had animosity towards the couple, published in Les Temps Modernes an editorial that created controversy when affirming: “now, I know everything about the vagina of your boss”. The second sex was translated into several languages: in the United States, a million copies were sold, and became the theoretical framework essential for the reflections of the founders of the women’s liberation movement . De Beauvoir became a precursor of the feminist movement in describing a society in which women are relegated to inferior status. Her analysis of the feminine condition, in rupture with existentialist beliefs, is based on myths, civilizations, religions, anatomy and traditions. This analysis sparked a scandal, particularly the chapter on motherhood and abortion, then equated with homicide. She described marriage as a disgusting bourgeois institution, similar to prostitution in which the woman is economically dependent on her husband and has no possibility of independence.

The Mandarines , published in 1945, marked the recognition of his literary talent by the intellectual community: he was awarded the prestigious Goncourt Prize for this novel . De Beauvoir was then one of the most globally-rated writers. In this novel, that treats of the postwar period, exposed its relation with Nelson Algren, although always through fictitious personages. Algren, jealous, no longer endured the relationship between De Beauvoir and Sartre: the rupture between her and Algren demonstrated the strength of the bond between the two philosophers, and that of their covenant. Later, from July 1952 to 1959, De Beauvoir lived with Claude Lanzmann.

From 1958, she began writing her autobiography, describing the bourgeois world in which she grew up, her prejudices, her degrading traditions and the efforts she made to get rid of them despite her status as a woman. He also recounts his relationship with Sartre, who he called total success. In spite of everything and the strength of the bond of passion that still united them, they were no longer a couple in the sexual sense, although De Beauvoir made him believe his readers.

In 1964, he published A Very Sweet Death , which relates the death of his mother: Sartre always considered that this was the best writing of De Beauvoir. The euthanasia or mourning form the core of this story charged with emotion. Throughout her mourning, the writer is accompanied by a girl she met at the time: Sylvie Le Bon, student in philosophy. The relationship that united the two women was ambiguous: mother-daughter, friendship or love. In his fourth autobiographical writing, ultimately , De Beauvoir declared that Sylvie shared with the same kind of relationship that joined fifty years earlier, her best friend Zaza. Sylvie Le Bon was officially adopted as daughter by the writer, and was named heiress of his literary work and his property.

Death of Sartre and end of the life of Beauvoir

After Sartre’s death in 1980, he published the Goodbye ceremony in 1981 , where he recounted the last ten years of his life partner’s life: the intimate medical details of the philosopher’s life were badly received by many of his followers. This text was supplemented by the publication of his conversations with Sartre recorded in Rome between August and September 1974. In these dialogues, Sartre reflected on his life and expressed some doubts about his intellectual production. In publishing these intimate conversations, De Beauvoir sought to show how his departed couple had been manipulated by the French philosopher and writer Benny Levy: Sartre made Sartre recognize a certain “religious inclination” in existentialism, although Sartre and the other existentialists had Proclaimed always that atheism was one of its pillars. For de Beauvoir, Sartre no longer had the fullness of his intellectual capacities when he had held this debate with Lévy and was not in a position to confront him philosophically. In these texts that reveal Sartre’s life, he also showed how bad his relationship with Sartre’s adopted daughter Arlette Elkaïm-Sartre was. He concludes farewell ceremony with the following sentence: “His death separates us. My death will not reunite us. So is; It is already too beautiful that our lives have been able to come together for so long. ”

From 1955 to 1986, she resided at number 11bis of Victor-Schœlcher Street in Paris, where she died accompanied by her adopted daughter and Claude Lanzmann . She was buried in the Montparnasse cemetery of the French capital, in Division 20, next to Sartre. Simone de Beauvoir was buried carrying in her hand the silver ring that her lover Nelson Algren gave her upon waking from her first night of love.

Personal relationships

Throughout her university period in Paris , Simone de Beauvoir met other young intellectuals, among them Jean-Paul Sartre, who described with admiration of genius. A mythical relationship was born between the two philosophers, which only ended Sartre’s death. Simone will be their “necessary love,” as opposed to the “contingent loves” that the two of them will know in parallel: a pact of polyfidelity, renewed every two years, established between them from 1929, about a year after Their encounter. Both fulfilled this philosophical pact: he had many contingent loves, she not so many. The climax of the university career of the couple happened in 1929, when Sartre and De Beauvoir appeared to the contest of the aggregation of philosophy, which he won while she was in second place.

Despite this success, the sudden death of her friend Zaza the same year caused great suffering to the philosopher. De Beauvoir, raised by a religious mother, lost her Christian faith at the age of fourteen, as she recounted in her Memoirs of a Formal Girl : 7 years before her philosophical studies, she had emancipated herself from her family and bourgeois values .

The meeting with Sartre supposes for De Beauvoir the beginning of a life of permanent intellectual dialogue with a privileged interlocutor of a level that she defined as greater than her own, at least at the beginning of the relationship. Sartre and De Beauvoir did not separate since they met, or during the separation of this from their family. Their relationship lasted until Sartre’s death. However, they never married or lived under the same roof. Both lived in complete freedom, practicing the polyamor and feeling happy with the bond they had created between them. This new relational schema was grounded in the deep and visceral rejection of the way of life bourgeois .

Simone thought she was unique, but before Sartre she had to admit: “It was the first time in my life that I felt intellectually dominated by somebody.” They decided to unite their lives, but in a free love because neither De Beauvoir nor Sartre accepted the marriage:

Sartre did not have the vocation of monogamy ; He liked to be in the company of women, whom he found less comical than men; He did not understand, at twenty-three, to renounce forever his seductive diversity. [ Citation needed ]

Referring to Fig.

Anyway, she loved him and accepted him as he was. Sartre proposed the formula of their relationship: “Among us there is a need to love, but love should also know contingent [ citation needed ]

Literary work

During the Second World War and the German occupation of Paris , he lived in the city taken writing his first novel, The Guest (1943), where he explored the existentialist dilemmas of freedom, action and individual responsibility, themes that he also tackled in novels Later as The Blood of Others (1944) and Los mandarines (1954), novel for which he received the Goncourt Prize . 1

In 1945 next to Jean Paul Sartre and other scholars of the moment founded the magazine Modern Times

The existentialist theses, according to which each one is responsible for itself, are also introduced in a series of autobiographical works, four in total, among which are Memories of a young woman from a good family (also known as Memoirs of a Formal Girl ) (1958) and Final Countdown (1972). His works offer an extremely revealing vision of his life and his time.

Among his essays is The Second Sex (1949), an analysis on the role of women in society and the construction of the role and figure of women; The old age (1970), centered on the situation of old age in the western imaginary and where he criticized their marginalization and concealment, and The Goodbye ceremony (1981), a controversial work that evokes the figure of his life partner, Jean Paul Sartre .

In addition to her contributions to feminism, her reflections on literary creation, on the development of the left before and after the Second World War , on the pain and perception of the self, on the boundaries of psychoanalysis and on the deep premises Of existentialism.


Simone de Beauvoir defined feminism in 1963 as a way of living individually and a way of fighting collectively explains the doctor in philosophy, Teresa López Pardina one of the leading specialists in the figure of the French writer and philosopher. Referring to Fig.

It is not born woman, it becomes to be it

Main article: The Second Sex

Beauvoir argues that “woman” or what we mean by woman is a cultural product that has been socially constructed. It denounces that women have always been defined in relation to something (such as mother, wife, daughter, sister) and claim that the main task of women is to regain their own specific identity and from their own criteria. The characteristics that are identified in women are not given their genetics, but by how they have been educated and socialized. As a summary of this thought he wrote one of his most famous phrases: ” No woman is born, it becomes one

A solitary voice denouncing the situation of the women

In 1949 when he published The Second Sex was a solitary voice in the western society in which after the suffragist movement and the obtaining of the right to the feminine vote the women had been reinserted in the home. The book that was once a scandal and which over time is considered a “classic” that allows to balance the journey towards equality of the sexes says the philosopher Alicia Puleo . The theorists of the different and opposing currents of feminism ( liberal , radical and socialist ) that would re-emerge in the sixties after a long pause of silence, Pule says, recognize that they are “daughters of Beauvoir .” 10

Reference in equality policies and feminist studies

Beauvoir is not a fixed “essence” but an “existence”: “project”, “transcendence”, “autonomy”, “freedom” that can not be fooled by an individual because of belonging to the “second sex” . The fundamental idea of the Second Sex, Pule says, is today assumed by millions of people who have not read this book or heard of it and its principles have been incorporated into European equality policies and have given rise to feminist studies And gender of avant-garde university centers . 10

Beauvoir expressed in terms of existentialist philosophy a cycle of demands for equality of women beginning with the Enlightenment and leads to obtaining the vote and access to higher education in the first third of the twentieth century highlights the philosopher Celia Amorós . eleven

Fight for the right to abortion

Beauvoir also had a decisive role in the legalization of abortion in France . With Halimi she founded the Choisir movement and was one of the editors of the 343 Manifesto – signed by women from politics, culture and different areas of French society such as writer Marguerite Duras , lawyer Gisèle Halimi or filmmakers Françoise Sagan , Jeanne Moreau and Agnes Vardà acknowledging to have aborted – published on April 5, 1971 by the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur . 12

About abortion noted:

“Abortion is an integral part of evolution in nature and human history.” This is not an argument either for or against, but an undeniable fact: there is no people, no age where abortion was not practiced legally or illegally. Abortion is completely linked to human existence … “. 13

The activity of Simone de Beauvoir was, together with Gisèle Halimi and Elisabeth Badinter , key to achieving recognition of the ill-treatment suffered by women during the war in Algeria .

Prize Simone de Beauvoir

  • In 2008, on the occasion of the centenary of the anniversary of her birth, the Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women’s Freedom was created in honor of Julia Kristeva, sponsored by the Diderot University of Paris with an amount of 20,000 euros to highlight The people committed by their artistic work and their action to promote the freedom of the women in the world. 14


The relationship between the writer and Jean-Paul Sartre and his position relative to polyamory have generated numerous controversies about the kind of relationship they had. 15 The signing in 1977 of Simone De Beauvoir together with Jean Paul Sartre and other contemporary leftist intellectuals of a petition calling for the release of two men arrested for having sex with minors published in Le Monde in 1977. 16



  • “Violette”
  • “Les Amants du flore”


  • The guest. ( 1943 )
  • The Blood of Others ( 1945 )
  • All Men Are Deadly ( 1946 )
  • The Mandarines ( 1954 , winner of the Goncourt Prize ).
  • The Beautiful Pictures ( 1966 )
  • The Broken Woman ( 1968 )
  • When the spiritual predominates ( 1979 )
Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre interview Che Guevara in 1960. Photo by Alberto Korda published in the magazine Verde Oliva . Che Guevara Museum (Center for Che Guevara Studies in Havana, Cuba).
Tomb of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.


  • Why the action ( 1944 )
  • For a morality of ambiguity ( 1947 )
  • Existentialism and the Wisdom of Peoples ( 1948 )
  • America Day ( 1948 )
  • The second sex ( 1949 )
  • Political Right Thinking ( 1955 )
  • The Long March (Essay on China) ( 1957 )
  • Old age ( year 1970 )

Memories and diaries

  • North America to the naked ( 1948 )
  • Memories of a Formal Girl ( 1958 )
  • The fullness of life ( 1960 )
  • The Strength of Things ( 1963 )
  • A Very Sweet Death ( 1964 )
  • Final account ( 1972 )
  • The Goodbye Ceremony ( 1981 )
  • Journal of War: September 1939-January 1941 ( posthumous edition by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir) ( 1990 )
  • Cahiers de jeunesse, 1926-1930 . Edition by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir. Gallimard, 2008. (Unpublished in Spanish)


  • The Useless Mouths ( 1945 )


  • Letters to Sartre ( 1990 )
  • Letters to Nelson Algren: A Transatlantic Love ( 1998 )
  • Correspondance croisée avec Jacques-Laurent Bost (1937-1940) . Edition, presentation and notes of Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir. Gallimard, 2004. (Unpublished in Spanish)


  • López Paradina, Teresa (1999). Simone de Beauvoir . Editions of Orto. P. 94. ISBN  9788479232160 .
  • Sanabria, José Rubén. «Simone de Beauvoir. Rebellion and freedom. ” . STUDIES philosophy, history and letters . Accessed October 29, 2013 .
  • Blanco, José Joaquín (2004). The loneliness of the optimists. Mazatlán: Editions cal and sand.
  • Aguilar, Madrid. (1977). Complete Works Volume II – Simone de Beauvoir. (M. Aguilar, Ed.) Madrid, Spain. ISBN 9788403040885


  1. ↑ Jump to:a b c d e «The committed woman, Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986)» . . Retrieved on 11/16/2016 .
  2. Back to top↑ Tidd, Ursula (January 1, 2004). Simone de Beauvoir (in English) . Psychology Press. ISBN  9780415263641 . Accessed June 21, 2016 .
  3. Back to top↑ Various (January 1, 2000). Lexicon of politics . Flacso Mexico, SEP-Conacyt, FCE, Heinrich Böl. ISBN  9789681661076 . Accessed June 21, 2016 .
  4. Back to top↑ Seymour-Jones, Carole (December 31, 2011). A Dangerous Liaison (in English) . Random House. ISBN  9781448134977 . Accessed June 21, 2016 .
  5. Back to top↑ «BIOGRAPHY OF SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR. Simone … – The Attic of Bohemian | Facebook » . . Accessed May 6, 2016 .
  6. Back to top↑ «De Beauvoir Simone – Sartre Versus Merleau Ponty Pdf» . . Accessed May 6, 2016 .
  7. Back to top↑ De Beauvoir, Simone (2016). Memories of a Formal Young Woman . CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. P. 322 pp. ISBN  1523646136 . Accessed June 21, 2016 .
  8. Back to top↑ Sanabria, José Rubén. “3. Meeting with Sartre » . Simone de Beauvoir. Rebellion and Freedom . ITAM . Retrieved on May 6, 2015 .
  9. Back to top↑ «The feminist thinking of Simone de Beauvoir – Ameco Press» . . Consulted the 6 of November of 2016 .
  10. ↑ Jump to:a b Alicia Puleo (2008). “Simone de Beauvoir: existentialist philosopher, thinker of our freedom” . . Consulted the 6 of November of 2016 .
  11. Return to top↑ Amorós, Celia (2005). «Simone de Beauvoir: between vindication and criticism of androcentrism». The big difference and its small consequences for the struggles of women . Chair. P. 335-360. ISBN  9788437622491 .
  12. Back to top↑ «The 343 scoundrels» . . Consulted the 6 of November of 2016 .
  13. Volver arriba↑ «Aborto, ligado a la existencia humana: Simone de Beauvoir | Cimac Noticias». Consultado el 6 de noviembre de 2016.
  14. Back to top↑ “Christine Albanel, ministre de la Culture et de la Communication, is réjouit de l’attribution du« Prix Simone de Beauvoir pour la Liberté des femmes “Ayaan Hirsi Ali à Mesdames et Taslima Nasreen” . (in French) . January 11, 2008 . Retrieved on 11/16/2016 .
  15. Back to top↑ «Simone de Beauvoir, the polyamor and women who want to please their partners» . . Retrieved on 11/16/2016 .
  16. Back to top↑ «French petition against age of consent laws» . Accessed October 25, 2016 .