The Useless Mouths and Other Writings

Simone de Beauvoir, edited by Margaret A. Simons and Marybeth Timmermann, foreword by Sylvie Le Bon Beauvoir. Univ. of Illinois, $50 (360p) ISBN 978-0-252-03634-7
The centennial of Beauvoir's birth was marked in 2008, which provided a platform for a re-evaluation of the author of The Second Sex. This volume includes a lesser-performed drama, notes toward a novel, a broadcast interview, lectures, articles, essays of literary criticism and philosophy, as well as miscellaneous prefaces to such works as a book of James Joyce in photos, fairy tales, and an autobiography of author Violette Leduc. The volume covers the postwar period, from autumn 1945, when The Useless Mouths was performed, to the late 1970s. Throughout, an impressive team of experts introduces the book's 10 pieces and thoroughly annotates them. One of the central aspects of the collection shows Beauvoir engaged with her critics: for example, in her unbridled support of Dos Passos, Hemingway, and Faulkner; on the problematic image of Shakespeare in France; and in the 1964 essay "What Can Literature Do?" The title play, with its medieval setting, gives Beauvoir the opportunity to discuss the German occupation as well as to explore modern feminist themes. Overall, this book nicely puts the philosopher's work into an expanded context for nonspecialists. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/04/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 424 pages - 978-0-252-08595-6
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