Simone de Beauvoir’s books are the condensations of her ideas on feminism. Some of them provide info on the women’s conditions in the male-dominated world. Others describe how it feels to grow up a female within the bounds of a respectable bourgeois family.
Simone de Beauvoir was one of the most prominent French existentialist philosophers and writers of the 20th century. Working alongside other famous existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, de Beauvoir produced a huge amount books. Her works covered everything on ethics, feminism, fiction, autobiography, and even politics.
Simone de Beauvoir’s books highlight freedom, responsibility, and give voice to core themes of existentialist philosophy. Yep, it really seems hard to understand this outstanding feminist. But it is no trouble.
You can find the volumes of her autobiography as well. You will be able to track down her childhood, her transition from a student into an adult and more. She also developed the theory known as existentialist feminism.
Recognizing the writer and feminist Simone de Beauvoir
French writer and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir laid the foundation for the modern feminist movement. She is a household name across Europe whose life story is worth knowing. She made her way through strict bourgeois rules.
One of the beautiful minds of the 20th century Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris, in 1908. She was the eldest daughter in the de Beauvoir family. While growing up in a bourgeois family, De Beauvoir was brought up strictly Catholic. She was even sent to convent schools during her youth. Little Simone was so devoutly religious that she considered becoming a nun.
However, Simone was not destined to stay at a convent. At the age of 14, the intellectually curious de Beauvoir had a crisis of faith. Soon she declared herself an atheist. She never changed her mind later on. She kept being an atheist for whole her life. As a matter of fact, she dedicated herself to the study of existence. That choice shifted her focus instead to math, literature, and philosophy.
Soon De Beauvoir attended Sorbonne and studied philosophy. During the years at the University de Beauvoir encountered young existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Their acquaintance was a fatal one. It bonded the two bright minds and influenced both of their personal and professional lives.
Simone de Beauvoir was a passionate feminist as well. She made huge contributions to the feminist movement, especially the French women’s liberation movement. She believed in women’s economic independence and equal education.
However, initially, de Beauvoir was hesitant to call herself a feminist, as the movement didn’t come up her expectations. But the recovery of the feminist movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s made her change her mind.
In 1972 in an interview with a French periodical, she publicly declared herself a feminist. Simone de Beauvoir’s books touch upon the theory of feminism and share the reasons she became one of the most passionate advocates of feminism.
The Top List of Simone de Beauvoir’s Books
As an influential thinker of the previous century, de Beauvoir published a number of remarkable novels, essays, and autobiographies worth reading.
Simone de Beauvoir’s books, the autobiography, as well as her diaries, offer invaluable and unique insight into the development of her theories and attitudes concerning nearly everything including feminism.
Below you can find her best works. Perhaps you will need to add them to your reading list.
Simone de Beauvoir’s Books #1: The Second Sex
I couldn’t start my list with another book. This is her best one. And if you want to discover de Beauvoir as a feminist, pick up this book. The Second Sex sets the plan for the women’s movement in modern days.
Within this book, the feminist Simone provides an account of woman’s condition. She describes them as “other” in a world dominated by male commands and power.
For this reason, the book found its way onto the Papal “blacklist”. The book remains salutary to read even today when societies impose their standards on women.
The sections of the book describe young girls, marriage, the narcissist and the woman in love. De Beauvoir is very good at describing women from all the angles. The book defends de Beauvoir’s existentialist feminism against the many reproaches, which have been leveled against it over many years.
Simone de Beauvoir’s Books #2: The Mandarins
Another novel filled with the ideas of feminism. This novel was a winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt. Through her characters de Beauvoir discovers the choices women can make in various situations.
It takes the readers into the heart of the left bank during what has now become its mythical post-war epoch. One can read many familiar names, such as Camus and Sartre.
In the novel The Mandarins, they appear somehow veiled. De Beauvoir has created a heroine as well. She is a psychoanalyst. Her own passionate affair with Nelson Algren- the American novelist, is key both to the action and to her understanding of the choices women can make.
Simone de Beauvoir’s Books #3: She Came to Stay
This is de Beauvoir’s first novel and if you are crazy about unexpected endings, it is the right one for you. The book touches upon the problem of sexual jealousy.
It focuses on the triangle that has appeared between older women, her younger attractive woman and with whom her partner falls in love. The shocking finale the author created will definitely blow your mind.
Simone de Beauvoir’s Books #4: Autobiography: Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter is the first volume of de Beauvoir’s autobiography. The author vividly explains what it feels like to grow up a female.
Well, all women are familiar with that feeling. But Simone’s case is different. She opens up about being brought up within the restrictions of a respectable and well-known bourgeois family at the beginning of the 20th century.
Such life is like a box for a girl who loves life, books, and men. Simone’s rebellious character fights against that constricting faith and family. This portrait of hers makes the book a classic in the genre.
Simone de Beauvoir’s Books #5: Autobiography: The Prime of Life
The Prime Life is the second volume of de Beauvoir’s autobiography. She portrays herself as an adult here. The book covers the early years of her relationship with Sartre and the war years.
It is both a chronicle of those times and an intimate portrait as well. She brings the bare facts of her life to light. Besides, in this autobiography de Beauvoir describes the life under the Nazi occupation, the migration from Paris and her return to the city.
Simone de Beauvoir’s Books #6: Old Age
Being young is the best feeling a person can ever experience. But it is hard to stop getting old. It’s a natural phenomenon and nobody can avoid it. De Beauvoir pondered over it as well. In this amazing study, she explains what it means to be old in a world which is focused on the young.
The Old Age is probably the first book that breaks the silence about the humiliations of age. It still remains as relevant as it was in 1970 when it originally appeared and was published.
Simone de Beauvoir’s Books #7: Beloved Chicago Man. Letters to Nelson Algren 1947-64
De Beauvoir wrote what she felt. Her characters were real, their actions were the results of the way they led their lives. While writing her famous ‘The Second Sex’ she was engaged in a passionate affair with the “beloved Chicago man” of these tender, playful, troubled letters.
If in the first book she tells us that the women in love “lives on her knees” and few crimes “entail worse punishment than the generous fault of putting oneself entirely in another’s hands”, here the readers see the struggle with the raw emotion which did, indeed, have her on her knees.
Written in English the letters reveal a far different and attractive woman.
De Beauvoir’s Relationship: Existential Love Affair with Jean-Paul Sartre
When someone is busy with social issues it seems he or she has no time to lead a private life. It is de Beauvoir’s case as well with some exceptions. The existential love affair of the two prominent philosophers is a hot topic of discussions for being far unusual.
These two philosophers first appeared together in October 1929. But their relationship was never a traditional one. They neither married, nor shared the same roof.
That is to say, they had an open relationship. Simone de Beauvoir used to say that, “The comradeship that welded our lives together made a superfluous mockery of any other bond we might have forged for ourselves.”
Regardless this unofficial relationship, Sartre and de Beauvoir were the intellectual power couple of the 20th century. Louis Menand once wrote in The New Yorker:
…with independent lives, who met in cafés, where they wrote their books and saw their friends at separate tables… but who maintained a kind of soul marriage.
Maybe you would condemn them for that. But you have to consider a nuance in their relationship; the relationship of the two thinkers worked for 50 years.
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