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Private Sartre

John Sturrock, 7 February 1985

War Diaries: Notebooks from a Phoney War 1939-40 
by Jean-Paul Sartre and Quentin Hoare.
Verso, 366 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 0 86091 087 3
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... as yet unrepentant individualist lacks both the servitude and the grandeur it once held for Alfred de Vigny, it does offer him the rare opportunities of exile, from his familiars in Paris, from teaching philosophy, from going after women. The sudden impoverishment of his external life prompts him to look within, to enjoy a happy, voluble season of ...

Mother’s back

Lorna Sage: Feminists with Tenure, 18 May 2000

What is a Woman? And Other Essays 
by Toril Moi.
Oxford, 517 pp., £25, October 1999, 9780198122425
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... extricate ourselves? Moi argues that we need to go back to the future – back, in particular, to Simone deBeauvoir, whose phenomenological understanding of lived experience will provide a way out. Her 1994 book on Beauvoir, The Making of an Intellectual Woman, paid implicit tribute ...

She Who Can Do No Wrong

Jenny Turner, 6 August 1992

Curriculum Vitae 
by Muriel Spark.
Constable, 213 pp., £14.95, July 1992, 0 09 469650 0
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... Spark’s favourite catch-phrases, along with such classics of the catch-phrase form as ‘crème de la crème’, ‘pisseur de copie’, ‘neither good-looking nor bad-looking’, ‘we must always think about les autres.’ The Comforters, in fact, itself concluded with a character going on his way rejoicing; Loitering ...

It’s she, it’s she, it’s she

Joanna Biggs: Americans in Paris, 2 August 2012

Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis 
by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 289 pp., £17, May 2012, 978 0 226 42438 5
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As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Diaries 1964-80 
by Susan Sontag.
Hamish Hamilton, 544 pp., £18.99, April 2012, 978 0 241 14517 3
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... On campus everyone wore jeans but in the city everyone wore mink, Simone deBeauvoir observed when she visited Vassar College to give a talk in February 1947. The reason, she thought, was that American women dress to tell the world about their standard of living, or to make men stare: ‘The truth is that the way European women dress is much less servile ...

I, too, am an artist

Linda Nochlin: Dora Maar, 4 January 2001

Dora Maar with and without Picasso: A Biography 
by Mary Ann Caws.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £24.95, October 2000, 0 500 51009 1
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... sock and a strikingly nonchalant slouch leans against a rugged wall beneath a sign saying ‘rue de Genets’. Specificity of place and texture is admirably juxtaposed with formal elegance in these images, which consistently make an analogy between the city wall and the plain surface of the paper on which they appear. Maar’s portraits of members of the ...

Upstaged in Palestine

Nigel Williams, 18 May 1989

Prisoner of Love 
by Jean Genet, translated by Barbara Bray.
Picador, 375 pp., £12.95, February 1989, 9780330299626
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... Europe as a thief and male prostitute in the Thirties, is dedicated to Sartre, together with Simone deBeauvoir. It is also the case that his later novels almost always include a gesture towards philosophy, a trait that does not deform his masterpiece Notre Dame des Fleurs. ‘We should like these reflections and ...

I am them

Richard Wollheim, 7 October 1993

Love of Beginnings 
by J.-B. Pontalis, translated by James Greene and Marie-Christine Régius.
Free Association, 260 pp., £13.95, May 1993, 9781853431296
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... J.-B. Pontalis is a Parisian intellectual de pur sang. Born into a wealthy upper-middle-class family, he was brought up in Neuilly, and, as a child, spent long summers at a family house in Cabourg, Proust’s Balbec. He studied philosophy under Sartre, and taught it for some years. He entered psychoanalysis under the aegis of Lacan, and having weaned himself from that unfortunate affiliation, is now one of the leading figures in the French psychoanalytic world ...


Edward Said: My Encounter with Sartre, 1 June 2000

... a seminar on peace in the Middle East in Paris on 13 and 14 March this year. Please respond. Simone deBeauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre.’ At first I thought the cable was a joke of some sort. It might just as well have been an invitation from Cosima and Richard Wagner to come to Bayreuth, or from T.S. Eliot and ...

Pick the small ones

Marina Warner: Girls Are Rubbish, 17 February 2005

Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet: Women in Proverbs from around the World 
by Mineke Schipper.
Yale, 422 pp., £35, April 2004, 0 300 10249 6
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... As they approach, she curtseys: ‘O brave new world, that has such women in it!’ Captain Simone deBeauvoir leads the group; her bosun Germaine Greer beside her, and her crew of investigators fast behind (they include Kate Millett, purser; Mary Daly, doctor; Erica Jong, navigator). Soon, the whole group is ...

From Script to Scream

Richard Mayne, 18 December 1980

Caligari’s Children 
by S.S. Prawer.
Oxford, 307 pp., £8.95, March 1980, 9780192175847
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The Cinema of Loneliness: Penn, Kubrick, Coppola, Scorsese, Altman 
by Robert Phillip Kolker.
Oxford, 395 pp., £8.50, April 1980, 0 19 502588 1
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... watching a horror movie – involved but powerless, transfixed by uncontrollable events. As Simone deBeauvoir once quaintly put it, ‘when I go into a cinema, my praxis is paralysed.’ Many films resemble dreams or nightmares: many directors are Luna-park sorcerers, turning the spectator into a spellbound ...

Performing Seals

Christopher Hitchens: The PR Crowd, 10 August 2000

Partisans: Marriage, Politics and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals 
by David Laskin.
Simon and Schuster, 319 pp., $26, January 2000, 0 684 81565 6
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... Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique. But two of them had a crack at the earlier work of Simone deBeauvoir. Mary McCarthy pointed out waspishly that the great Parisienne was no more than an appendage to Sartre. Elizabeth Hardwick took a higher tone, at least as sarcastically described by Lowell, who wrote in ...

Under Her Buttons

Joanna Biggs: Ottessa Moshfegh, 31 March 2016

by Ottessa Moshfegh.
Cape, 260 pp., £16.99, March 2016, 978 0 224 10255 1
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... her crack open a peanut, lick her fingers: I would die one day, but not yet. There I was. Simone deBeauvoir saw housework as the Sisyphean task par excellence: the repetition was an effective way of not living, of simply keeping time until death. But if you’re trapped, what else is there to do but watch the ...

Short Cuts

Joanna Biggs: The Manifesto Instinct, 18 June 2020

... women want hasn’t been that much of a mystery at all. (Mary Wollstonecraft, Sojourner Truth, Simone deBeauvoir: century after century, girls just wanna be human, not other.) But finding the moment to speak and the words to use? Reading Breanne Fahs’s collection of feminist manifestos, Burn It ...

Nothing he hasn’t done, nowhere he hasn’t been

Adam Shatz: Claude Lanzmann, 5 April 2012

The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir 
by Claude Lanzmann, translated by Frank Wynne.
Atlantic, 528 pp., £25, March 2012, 978 1 84887 360 5
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... early 1950s as an editor at Les Temps modernes. He also became – with Sartre’s blessing – Beauvoir’s lover, ‘the only man with whom Simone deBeauvoir lived a quasi-marital existence’. He marched with the left against the wars in Algeria and Vietnam; moonlighted in ...

Good Girl, Bad Girl

Elaine Showalter, 5 June 1997

Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment 
by Jane Gallop.
Duke, 104 pp., £28.50, June 1997, 0 8223 1918 7
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A Life in School: What the Teacher Learned 
by Jane Tompkins.
Addison-Wesley, 256 pp., $22, January 1997, 0 201 91212 0
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Bequest and Betrayal: Memoirs of a Parent’s Death 
by Nancy Miller.
Oxford, 208 pp., £19.50, February 1997, 0 19 509130 2
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... Gallop recalls that she not only became a better student, but improved her sex life by reading Simone deBeauvoir (‘I ... learned that women could masturbate, and had my first orgasm’); she danced bare-breasted with other students, and began to ‘fantasise teacher-student sex alongside other brave new ...

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