Study Guide

Simone de Beauvoir Biography

Basic Information

Name

Simone de Beauvoir

Nickname

"Castor" (that's French for beaver because I work as hard as that determined little semi-aquatic rodent), Mother of French Feminism, Midwife of Existentialism

Sex

Second (a.k.a. female)

Home town

I was born in Paris, where all great intellectuals are born.

Work & Education

Occupation

I was a high school teacher in Marseilles—until I got an underage student in the sack and was unceremoniously fired (my bad). What a mess. The hours weren't great anyway, so I've committed myself to writing novels, conjuring up revolutionary feminist ideas, and smoking an insane number of cigarettes. Oh, and cooking for JP.

Education

Only the best will do. I studied math at the Institut Catholique and literature and languages at the Institut Sainte-Marie. Then I took on philosophy at the Sorbonne, writing my thesis on Leibniz (big time German mathematician and philosopher). I then attended courses at the École Normale Supérieure getting prepared for the agrégation in philosophy. That's fiercely competitive postgraduate examination that makes the SAT look like connect the dots. At 21, I became the youngest person ever to get a pass on that exam. Snap.

Beliefs

Political views

Anti-colonialist (France out of Algiers now!); pro-abortionist; socialist with Marxist sympathies

Religious views

My mother, Françoise, was wildly god-fearing, so she sent me and my sister to a fancy Catholic convent school. For a long time, I was really in a groove with God, and even thought I'd be a nun. Then I had a predicament of sorts at age 14—I'll spare you the details—and from then on it was atheism for me.

Activities & Interests

Likes

Legal birth control and legal abortion
Men, women, and a good ménages-à-trois now and again (all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, as they say!)
Radical freedom
Transcendence
Women's Liberation
Absolute Freedom
Fashion magazines
Riding my bike

Dislikes

Children
Domination—racism, colonialism, haters of all kind
Bourgeois constructs of all sorts—esp. the institution of marriage
Reductive thinking and stereotyping, i.e., "the eternal feminine," "the black soul," "the Jewish character"
Myths
Patriarchy
Broken teeth

Interests

Travel
Reading women writers (love George Eliot)
Working
Shopping
Loving
Politics

Groups

Marxists
Existentialists
Feminists who also Happen to be Hot
Teachers who have Dated Their Students
Women Intellectuals Who Haven't Gotten Enough Credit

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