Wartime Diary

Simone de Beauvoir, Author, Margaret A. Simons, Editor, Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir, Editor , edited by Margaret A. Simons and Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir, trans. from the fr Univ. of Illinois $40 (350p) ISBN 978-0-252-03377-3

Discovered after de Beauvoir's death and published in French in 1990, these seven notebooks—beginning September 1, 1939, and concluding in January 1941 during the occupation of Paris by the Nazis—describe the crisis faced by Europe in relation to the philosopher's own separation from her lover, Jean-Paul Sartre. He was serving in the military and was subsequently detained. De Beauvoir describes her obsessive love for Sartre's student Jacques Bost, as well as sexual relations with several young women, particularly a clingy Russian. Throughout, de Beauvoir works on her novel She Came to Stay, which editor Simmons argues was a precursor to Sartre's Being and Nothingness . What gives these notebooks additional zest and texture are allusions to an unexpectedly wide range of writers the diarist read during these searing days, including Gide, Malraux, Lawrence, Jack London, Agatha Christie, Dostoyevski and Margaret Mitchell (“quite delightful”), not to mention her deriving entertainment from low comedies starring the Ritz Brothers and W.C. Fields. Last and shortest, notebook seven is pure philosophy. English readers are now afforded a very different portrait of the feminist philosopher approaching middle age in this well-annotated volume. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/06/2008
Release date: 02/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-252-08596-3
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