Who is Simone de Beauvoir
French writer Simone de Beauvoir laid the foundation for the modern feminist movement. Also an existentialist philosopher, she had a long-term relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre.
When she was 21, Simone de Beauvoir met Jean-Paul Sartre, forming a partnership and romance that would shape both of their lives and philosophical beliefs. De Beauvoir published countless works of fiction and nonfiction during her lengthy career — often with existentialist themes — including 1949’s The Second Sex, which is considered a pioneering work of the modern feminism movement. De Beauvoir also lent her voice to various political causes and traveled the world extensively. She died in Paris in 1986 and was buried with Sartre.
Simone de Beauvoir Quotes
1. I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely. No one knows me or loves me completely. I have only myself
2. I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger.
3. She was ready to deny the existence of space and time rather than admit that love might not be eternal.
4. I am incapable of conceiving infinity, and yet I do not accept finity. I want this adventure that is the context of my life to go on without end.
5. One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others.
6. One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.
7. When I was a child, when I was an adolescent, books saved me from despair: that convinced me that culture was the highest of values
8. In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality: the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man; either, a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation.
9. That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.
10. A man attaches himself to woman — not to enjoy her, but to enjoy himself.
11. On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but in her strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself–on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger.
12. To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.
13. One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, and compassion
14. When she does not find love, she may find poetry. Because she does not act, she observes, she feels, she records; a color, a smile awakens profound echoes within her; her destiny is outside her, scattered in cities already built, on the faces of men already marked by life, she makes contact, she relishes with passion and yet in a manner more detached, more free, than that of a young man. Being poorly integrated in the universe of humanity and hardly able to adapt herself therein, she, like the child, is able to see it objectively; instead of being interested solely in her grasp on things, she looks for their significance; she catches their special outlines, their unexpected metamorphoses. She rarely feels a bold creativeness, and usually she lacks the technique of self-expression; but in her conversation, her letters, her literary essays, her sketches, she manifests an original sensitivity. The young girl throws herself into things with ardor, because she is not yet deprived of her transcendence; and the fact that she accomplishes nothing, that she is nothing, will make her impulses only the more passionate. Empty and unlimited, she seeks from within her nothingness to attain All.
15. What an odd thing a diary is: the things you omit are more important than those you put in.
16. No one is more arrogant toward women, more aggressive or scornful, than the man who is anxious about his virility.
17. Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female — whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male.
18. All oppression creates a state of war. And this is no exception.
19. I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties through my love for truth – and truth rewarded me.
20. Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.
21. I was made for another planet altogether. I mistook the way.
22. If you live long enough, you’ll see that every victory turns into a defeat.
23. The body is not a thing, it is a situation: it is our grasp on the world and our sketch of our project
24. Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with absolute truth.
25. Regardless of the staggering dimensions of the world about us, the density of our ignorance, the risks of catastrophes to come, and our individual weakness within the immense collectivity, the fact remains that we are absolutely free today if we choose to will our existence in its finiteness, a finiteness which is open on the infinite. And in fact, any man who has known real loves, real revolts, real desires, and real will knows quite well that he has no need of any outside guarantee to be sure of his goals; their certitude comes from his own drive.
26. I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom.
27. Two separate beings, in different circumstances, face to face in freedom and seeking justification of their existence through one another, will always live an adventure full of risk and promise.
28. Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.
29. If the feminine issue is so absurd, is because the male’s arrogance made it “a discussion”
30. She would never change, but one day at the touch of a fingertip she would fall to dust.
31. What would Prince Charming have for occupation if he had not to awaken the Sleeping beauty?
32. Capabilities are clearly manifested only when they have been realized.
33. My life was hurrying, racing tragically toward its end. And yet at the same time it was dripping so slowly, so very slowly now, hour by hour, minute by minute. One always has to wait until the sugar melts, the memory dies, the wound scars over, the sun sets, the unhappiness lifts and fades away.
34. Fathers never have exactly the daughters they want because they invent a notion a them that the daughters have to conform to.
35. It is in the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our lives that we must draw our strength to live and our reasons for living.
36. To catch a husband is an art; to hold him is a job.
37. Sex pleasure in women is a kind of magic spell; it demands complete abandon; if words or movements oppose the magic of caresses, the spell is broken.
38. There was once a man who lost his shadow. I forget what happened to him, but it was dreadful. As for me, I’ve lost my own image. I did not look at it often; but it was there, in the background, just as Maurice had drawn it for me. A straightforward, genuine, “authentic” woman, with out mean-mindedness, uncompromising, but at the same time understanding, indulgent, sensitive, deeply feeling, intensely aware of things and of people, passionately devoted to those she loved and creating happiness for them. A fine life, serene, full, “harmonious.” It is dark: I cannot see myself anymore. And what do the others see? Maybe something hideous.
39. Be loved, be admired, be necessary; be somebody.
40. In a way, literature is true than life,’ he said to himself. ‘On paper, you say exactly and completely what you feel. How easy it is to break things off on paper! You hate, you shout, you kill, you commit suicide; you carry things to the very end. And that’s why it’s false. But it’s damned satisfying. In life, you’re constantly denying yourself, and others are always contradicting you. On paper, I make time stand still and I impose my convictions on the whole world; they become the only reality.
41. No one would take me just as I was, no one loved me; I shall love myself enough, I thought, to make up for this abandonment by everyone. Formerly, I had been quite satisfied with myself, but I had taken very little trouble to increase my self-knowledge; from now on, I would stand outside myself, watch over and observe myself; in my diary I had long conversations with myself. I was entering a world whose newness stunned me. I learned to distinguish between distress and melancholy, lack of emotion and serenity; I learned to recognize the hesitations of the heart, and its ecstasies, the splendor of great renunciations, and the subterranean murmurings of hope. I entered into exalted trances, as on those evenings when I used to gaze upon the sky full of moving clouds behind the distant blue of the hills; I was both the landscape and its beholder: I existed only through myself, and for myself… My path was clearly marked: I had to perfect, enrich and express myself in a work of art that would help others to live.
42. Women’s mutual understanding comes from the fact that they identify themselves with each other; but for the same reason each is against the others.
43. There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless.
44. On ne naît pas femme: on le devient.
45. I could see no reason for being sad. It´s just that it makes me unhappy not to feel happy.
46. The point is not for women simply to take power out of men’s hands, since that wouldn’t change anything about the world. It’s a question precisely of destroying that notion of power.
47. Because we are separated everything separates us, even our efforts to join each other.
48. Some things I loved have vanished. A great many others have been given to me
49. Why one man rather than another? It was odd. You find yourself involved with a fellow for life just because he was the one that you met when you were nineteen.
50. Today, however, we are having a hard time living because we are so bent on outwitting death.
51. To abstain from politics is in itself a political attitude.
52. Even if one is neither vain nor self-obsessed, it is so extraordinary to be oneself – exactly oneself and no one else – and so unique, that it seems natural that one should also be unique for someone else.
53. But all day long I would be training myself to think, to understand, to criticize, to know myself; I was seeking for the absolute truth: this preoccupation did not exactly encourage polite conversation.
54. A day in which I don’t write leaves a taste of ashes.
55. One is not born a genius, one becomes a genius; and the feminine situation has up to the present rendered this becoming practically impossible.
56. And without a doubt it is more comfortable to endure blind bondage than to work for one’s liberation; the dead, too, are better suited to the earth than the living.
57. To be oneself, simply oneself, is so amazing and utterly unique an experience that it’s hard to convince oneself so singular a thing happens to everybody.
58. Tragedies are all right for a while: you are concerned, you are curious, you feel good. And then it gets repetitive, it doesn’t advance, it grows dreadfully boring: it is so very boring, even for me.
59. Self-consciousness is not knowledge but a story one tells about oneself.
60. Art, literature, and philosophy are attempts to found the world anew on a human freedom: that of the creator; to foster such an aim, one must first unequivocally posit oneself as a freedom. The restrictions that education and custom impose on a woman limit her grasp of the universe…Indeed, for one to become a creator, it is not enough to be cultivated, that is, to make going to shows and meeting people part of one’s life; culture must be apprehended through the free movement of a transcendence; the spirit with all its riches must project itself in an empty sky that is its to fill; but if a thousand fine bonds tie it to the earth, its surge is broken. The girl today can certainly go out alone, stroll in the Tuileries; but I have already said how hostile the street is: eyes everywhere, hands waiting: if she wanders absentmindedly, her thoughts elsewhere, if she lights a cigarette in a cafe, if she goes to the cinema alone, an unpleasant incident can quickly occur; she must inspire respect by the way she dresses and behaves: this concern rivets her to the ground and self. “Her wings are clipped.” At eighteen, T.E. Lawrence went on a grand tour through France by bicycle; a young girl would never be permitted to take on such an adventure…Yet such experiences have an inestimable impact: this is how an individual in the headiness of freedom and discovery learns to look at the entire world as his fief…[The girl] may feel alone within the world: she never stands up in front of it, unique and sovereign.