My article focuses on Le Théâtre existentialiste (Existentialist Theater) by Simone de Beauvoir, recently translated and published in the volume of the Beauvoir Series on her literary writings. The first part introduces the original sound recording of this text and the circumstances behind its possible production in New York City in 1947 and my discovery of it at Wellesley College in 1996. The second part analyzes the divisions of Beauvoir's remarks as she presents Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and their principal plays from the period of the Occupation: The Flies, No Exit, and Caligula. The third part then evaluates certain of Beauvoir's key concepts in terms of how they were able to define adequately the substance of existentialist theater for a postwar American audience and whether they remain valid for a more contemporary theatrical public some six decades later.
Dennis A. Gilbert
A Dialectic on Freedom
According to Toril Moi, ‘freedom – not identity, difference or equality – is the fundamental concept in de Beauvoir’s feminism’. 1 Simone de Beauvoir insists that women and men are free human beings capable of independent, creative action. However
Judith G. Coffin
This essay considers the near simultaneity of The Second Sex and Alfred C. Kinsey's reports on sexual behavior. It shows how reviewers in both France and the United States paired the studies; it asks how that pairing shaped the reception of The Second Sex; and it situates the studies in their larger historical context—a moment in which sexuality commanded new and much broader attention. An ever-widening number of disciplines, institutions, sectors of mass culture, and representatives of an expanding consumer economy (from studies of the authoritarian personality or juvenile delinquency to advertising) insisted that sexuality was key to their concerns and enterprises. The ways in which sexuality might be understood multiplied—to the point where an allencompassing notion of “sex” collapsed, giving way, eventually, to a plurality of terms: sexuality, sex roles, and gender.
Ingrid Galster, Beauvoir dans tous ses états. Paris, Tallandier, 2007, 347pp. ISBN 978-2-84734-454-7 €25 (paperback)
Engagements, Contexts, Reconsiderations
At one hundred, we are told, a book becomes a classic; at one hundred Simone de Beauvoir has surely become a legend. And yet, like all legends, she remains something of an enigma, yet to be discovered. To be discovered, perhaps, in a way similar to her own attempt at self-discovery in Hard Times (the second volume of The Force of Circumstance), which results in a moving encounter with symptoms, repressions, and defenses that reveal those darker unrepentant forces―dreams and nightmares―that haunt her life. To discover is also to uncover the pages of a partly-written life that recurs in a succession of dreams and nightmares. As Beauvoir puts it: “In my dreams … there are objects that have always recurred” as “receptacles of suffering … the hands of a watch that begin to race [moved] by a secret and appalling organic disorder; a piece of wood bleeds beneath the blow of an ax … I feel the terror of these nightmares in my waking hours, if I call to mind the walking skeletons of Calcutta orthose little gourds with human faces―children suffering from malnutrition.”
For Sartre, shame is not an ethical but an ontological experience. With this in mind, the article examines the philosophical connection between shame and ambiguity through analysis of the experiences of abortion and the Nazi Occupation. The article demonstrates how Beauvoir develops Sartre's ontological notion of shame into an ethical philosophy of ambiguity as a result of wartime experiences. It demonstrates how encounters with shame, abortion, ambiguity and Occupation life in Beauvoir's 1945 novel Le sang des autres elucidate and are developed by Sartre and Beauvoir's philosophies of shame and ambiguity. The paper proposes that Sartre's and Beauvoir's thought was shaped by living through the Nazi Occupation and reveals how the memory of wartime shame is activated in contemporary ethical dilemmas in later literary works of both writers.
Kathryn T. Gines
Is Jean-Paul Sartre to be credited for Richard Wright's existentialist leanings? This essay argues that while there have been noteworthy philosophical exchanges between Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Richard Wright, we can find evidence of Wright's philosophical and existential leanings before his interactions with Sartre and Beauvoir. In particular, Wright's short story "The Man Who Lived Underground" is analyzed as an existential, or Black existential, project that is published before Wright met Sartre and/or read his scholarship. Existentialist themes that emerge from Wright's short story include flight, guilt, life, death, dread, and freedom. Additionally, it is argued that "The Man Who Lived Underground" offers a reversal of the prototypical allegory of the cave that we find in the Western (ancient Greek) philosophical tradition. The essay takes seriously the significance of the intellectual exchanges between Sartre, Beauvoir, and Wright while also highlighting Wright's own philosophical legacy.
Jean Pierre Boulé's Sartre, Self Formation and Masculinities argues that we cannot adequately understand Sartre without taking account of the unique ways in which he negotiated the gender mandates of patriarchy. Taking Boulé's cue, I call on Lacan, Cixous and Beauvoir to interrogate Sartre's relationship to women, to his body and to writing. I argue for Boulé's approach but against several of his conclusions. Further, I credit Boulé with providing ammunition for challenging Lacan's universal account of the mirror stage, and for pushing me to read Beauvoir's "Must we Burn Sade?" as a critique of Sartre's betrayal of the erotic's ethical demands.
The Genesis of Sartre’s Theatrical Career in Writings to, with, and by Beauvoir
Dennis A. Gilbert
information, namely writings to, with, and by Simone de Beauvoir. In this regard, I will look at the exchange of letters between Sartre and Beauvoir, her wartime diary, an article and a recording by Beauvoir from the 1940s in which she presents Sartre
compris les rapports sexuels. Dans la fiction, on trouve de nombreux passages sur la sexualité. Nous avons également de multiples interviews qui portent sur le sujet, le film Sartre par lui-même , ainsi que les entretiens avec Simone de Beauvoir d