Kunzum recommends four books by Beauvoir that shed light on the life of one of the greatest feminists of the 20th century. By Paridhi Badgotri
“One is not born, but rather becomes, woman,” Simone de Beauvoir famously asserted in her seminal book The Second Sex. With this, Beauvoir became a pioneer in presenting gender as a social construct—and a foundation for later concepts like Judith Butler’s gender performativity.
While she’s best known for writing The Second Sex, widely credited to have triggered the second wave of the feminist movement, Simone de Beauvoir wrote other lesser-known groundbreaking books that combine the personal with the philosophical and the political. Read about Beauvoir’s fascinating life and work through these four books curated by Kunzum.
A Simone de Beauvoir Reading List
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter is an autobiography that explores the rebellious teenage years of Beauvoir’s life. It offers an intimate portrait of the bourgeois French family and the conventional expectations from a woman of her class in that time. Evoking her friendships, love interests, and mentors against the backdrop of a politically turbulent France, Beauvoir showcases her intellectual and existential prowess.
The Mandarins sketches the emotional trajectory of a Beauvoir torn between her inner desires and public life in the Parisian intellectual society. Set close to the end of Second World War, and drawing on the work of philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and journalist Arthur Koestler, Beauvoir dissects the philosophical and political currents of her time.
Adieux: A Farewell to Sartre
Here, Beauvoir illustrates the last decade of Jean-Paul Sartre’s life. The book provides an insight into one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, by exploring conversations between Satre and Beauvoir about his life and work. It also cultivates an understanding of their complex lifelong relationship — a bond that lived up to the concept of individual freedom that their philosophies propounded.
Published posthumously, The Inseparables is the story of an intimate relationship between two girls who build a world of their own. They talk for hours on war, equality, and religion, and become rebellious against their teachers and society. But as they grow, societal pressures mount on them, threatening the tether that binds them.
All four of these books, along with The Second Sex, are available at Kunzum.