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"One is not born a woman, but becomes one", Simone de Beauvoir
A symbol of liberated womanhood, Simone de Beauvoir's unconventional relationships inspired and scandalised her generation. A philosopher, writer, and feminist icon, she won prestigious literary prizes and transformed the way we think about gender with The Second Sex. But despite her successes, she wondered if she had sold herself short.
Her liaison with Jean-Paul Sartre has been billed as one of the most legendary love affairs of the twentieth century. But for Beauvoir it came at a cost: for decades she was dismissed as an unoriginal thinker who 'applied' Sartre's ideas. In recent years new material has come to light revealing the ingenuity of Beauvoir's own philosophy and the importance of other lovers in her life.
This ground-breaking biography draws on never-before-published diaries and letters to tell the fascinating story of how Simone de Beauvoir became herself.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
[Kirkpatrick] gives more space to De Beauvoir's contrary relationship with feminism, and the discussion here is helpfully rich ... The letters to Lanzmann do constitute a major new resource ... Where Kirkpatrick's biography is strongest is in clarifying and showing the strength of De Beauvoir's ethical commitments, and how these were transformed into political commitments after the war. * The Guardian * A book to be read slowly and savoured. There's too much detail to gulp it down. But it is worth the time it takes to read a fascinating portrait of a woman who inspired women around the world and who changed the way many people think. * The Sunday Times * Kirkpatrick's biography is an exercise in meticulous research. Using newly published diaries - only recently made available to researchers - it refuses simple characterisations and reveals de Beauvoir in all her brilliance and complexity ... Becoming Beauvoir is a beautiful tribute to a remarkable woman. * Times Higher Education * 4 stars ... Illuminating. * The Daily Telegraph * Fascinating and deeply researched. * Daily Mail * Kirkpatrick offers a far more detailed and analytical account of de Beauvoir's philosophy than any previous biography ... Kirkpatrick's essential achievement here is to have related Simone de Beauvoir's logic to her life ... This is the best Beauvoir biography yet. * Standpoint Magazine * In her excellent new biography, Kate Kirkpatrick [..] shows us why we've much more to learn from Beauvoir. * New Statesman * In Kirkpatrick's biography, Beauvoir is restored to her full body of work, her full complexity, her full bravery - so much more than one misquoted line. * Literary Review * An admirable biography probing beneath the surface of misogynistic predecessors and exposing the complexities and contradictions of this extraordinary woman. * Irish Examiner * While she advocates for de Beauvoir, contesting various criticisms, she allows complexity...Meticulously and engagingly, Kirkpatrick catches myriad "instants" of the flux behind the icon. * The Australian * Kirkpatrick has trawled fastidiously through her commentaries, diaries and, significantly, the interviews she gave towards the end of her life. The result is a rich rediscovery of this inspirational feminist, philosopher and existentialist. It will spark a whole new love affair since such politically-aware feminists remain thin on the ground - and more needed than ever. * SA Weekend Magazine * This powerful, important book offers a necessary and radical, new, evidence-based reading of Simone de Beauvoir's life and work. It unpicks and undermines the extraordinary torrent of belittling and sexist criticism that has been directed at Beauvoir, both in her lifetime and since, and recovers her from Jean-Paul Sartre's shadow to bring her to stand in her own light. This haunting, scholarly, and compelling biography lingers long in the reader's mind. * Suzannah Lipscomb FRHS, Professor of History, University of Roehampton, UK * Do we need another biography on Simone de Beauvoir? Definitely! Here we finally have a biography that makes Beauvoir's philosophical ideas the focal point - not her love life. Based on new material, and written with insight, respect and sympathy, Kate Kirkpatrick re-examines Beauvoir's life and demonstrates how it was guided by her own existentialist ideals as well as twisted by her circumstances. A timely and fascinating book! * Tove Pettersen, Professor of Philosophy, University of Oslo, Norway. President of the International Simone de Beauvoir Society * Beautifully written and meticulously researched, Kirkpatrick draws on new material to find contradictions in previous accounts of Simone de Beauvoir's biography, including those from Beauvoir herself. Becoming Beauvoir is essential reading for anyone interested not just in Beauvoir's life, but the philosophy within it. * Fiona Vera-Gray, Assistant Professor in Sociology, Durham University, UK *