Simone de Beauvoir (1908-86)

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Beauvoir, Simone de (1908-86), French novelist and advocate of existentialism. Until 1943 she taught philosophy. After meeting Jean Paul Sartre at the Sorbonne in 1929, she became closely associated with him and his circle. In her first novel, She Came to Stay (1943; trans. 1949), she explored the existentialist dilemma of finding meaning in an absurd world. Later novels dealt with the same theme; among these are The Blood of Others (1944; trans. 1948) and The Mandarins (1954; trans. 1956), for which de Beauvoir received the Prix Goncourt. The existentialist thesis that one is responsible for oneself is also advanced in her series of autobiographical works, notably Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter (1958; trans. 1959) and All Said and Done (1972; trans. 1974). Her works give a revealing picture of her own life against the background of the times in which she lived.

Among de Beauvoir's nonfiction are The Second Sex (1949; trans. 1953), a profound analysis of women's role in society; The Coming of Age (1970; trans. 1973), her study of the aging process and passionate indictment of society's attitude toward the old; and Adieux: A Farewell to Sartre (1981; trans. 1984), a memoir about her long-time colleague.

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