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"On ne naît pas femme, on le devient" - Salute Simone

Medium_simone_ds_beauvoir__brassai Simone de Beauvoir would have been 100 years old today.  Salute the be-turbaned one by tuning into the following:

Vintage TV interview footage
Simone De Beauvoir writing in a St Germain Café plus interviews etc  - (check out St Germain looking like Barbès!)

TV - Arte
"Simone de Beauvoir, une Femme Actuelle" - Thursday 22h30
"Les Amants du Flore" - Friday at 21h

Colloque Centenaire Simone de Beauvoir 2008 offers readings and debates. Réfectoire des Cordeliers - 15 rue de l’Ecole de Médecine 75006 Paris


And from our archives a piece on Hazel Rowley's "Tete-a-Tete: Simone De Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre":  The 20th century's most controversial public intellectuals do not disappoint.  I couldn't put it down for 5 days and it seriously curtailed my nocturnal activities, or just leaving the house in general.

Tête-à-Tête is the story of Sartre and de Beauvoir's world famous open relationship and an undeniable page-turner. It rakes in the muck good and proper, uncovering what really went on at the (Cafe de) Flore and chez "the family". Namely, procurement of young acolytes, "incest" amongst said family members, corrupting young minds with filthy Lesbianism and other juicy stuff. 

But mainly, the myth of "contingent relationships" - yeah, it's fine if you're a guy, doesn't seem to work for  les femmes, (witness de Beauvoir's deep anguish throughout her life).  She was beautiful, talented and possibly more intelligent than he was, how and why did she put up it? She loved him no matter what?  I'm sorry but this is NOT what I want to hear from the woman who penned The Second Sex.  And why didn't she give it a proper try with Nelson Algren (author of The Man with the Golden Arm)?

Despite Sartre and de Beauvoir's admirable careers and support for numerous just causes (notably the Algerian War of Independence but let's forget Stalinism) it tainted both their myths for me - as of course they are inextricably linked. Summed up by the husband of Evelyne Lanzmann/Rey (who shot herself):
 
"Today I can say that Evelyne was the consenting victim of a misogynous frivolousness which, until 1968, characterised the Left Bank intelligentsia".

The book doesn't explain how the hideous Sartre managed to pull all these young lovelies, even late into his life.  Only one or two seem to have put up much of a fight and the rest capitulated and slowly but surely, each one went bonkers.

From a political history it was fascinating and I loved sitting in on the editorial meetngs of "Les Temps Modernes". Sartre's affair with his Russian interpreter, Lena Zonina, during the Cold War was one of the highlights of the book. During the four years of his affair with Zonina, Sartre "fell into line with Soviet propaganda almost completely," says Rowley.  Tsk. Men.

Bonapart Paris apartments

Comments

Stu

I do believe the narrow street with kittens, shown in the vintage TV clip, is R. de la Huchette, 5eme -- the "Narrow Street" of Eliot Paul's famous memoir. Wonder if the kitties are relatives of the famous "chat qui pêche"?

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