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Quotes by Simone de Beauvoir

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Wikipedia Summary for Simone de Beauvoir

Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir (UK: , US: ; French: [simɔn də bovwaʁ]; 9 January 1908 – 14 April 1986) was a French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist, and social theorist. Though she did not consider herself a philosopher, she had a significant influence on both feminist existentialism and feminist theory.

Beauvoir wrote novels, essays, biographies, autobiographies and monographs on philosophy, politics, and social issues. She was known for her 1949 treatise The Second Sex, a detailed analysis of women's oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism; and for her novels, including She Came to Stay and The Mandarins. Her most enduring contribution to literature is her memoirs, notably the first volume, “Mémoires d’une jeune fille rangée” (1958), which have a warmth and descriptive power. She won the 1954 Prix Goncourt, the 1975 Jerusalem Prize, and the 1978 Austrian State Prize for European Literature. She was also known for her open, lifelong relationship with French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

It's not a very big step from contentment to complacency.

Love is then renunciation of all possession, of all confusion. One renounces being in order that there may be that being which one is not.

It's only arrogance if you're wrong.

When we abolish the slavery of half of humanity, together with the whole system of hypocrisy it implies, then the division of humanity will reveal its genuine significance and the human couple will find its true form.

Have you ever felt in your inmost being, the conscience of others?' again she was trembling, the words were not releasing her. 'It's intolerable you know.

Patience is one of those feminine qualities which have their origin in our oppression but should be preserved after our liberation.

The women of today are in a fair way to dethrone the myth of femininity; they are beginning to affirm their independence in concrete ways; but they do not easily succeed in living completely the life of a human being.

The body is the instrument of our hold on the world.

The characteristic feature of all ethics is to consider human life as a game that can be won or lost and to teach man the means of winning.

The ballot box is a most inadequate mechanism of change.

Woman is determined not by her hormones or by mysterious instincts, but by the manner in which her body and her relation to the world are modified through the action of others than herself.

There is no justification for present existence other than its expansion into an indefinitely open future.

There are cases where the slave does not know his servitude and where it is necessary to bring the seed of his liberation to him from the outside: his submission is not enough to justify the tyranny which is imposed upon him.

It was easier for me to think of a world without a creator than of a creator loaded with all the contradictions of the world.

But I miss you to the point of anguish.

But an action which wants to serve man ought to be careful not to forget him on the way, if it chooses to fulfill itself blindly, it will lose its meaning or will take on an unforeseen meaning; for the goal is not fixed once and for all; it is defined all along the road which leads up to it.

The individuals who seem to us most outstanding, who are honored with the name of genius, are those who have proposed to enact the fate of all humanity in their personal existences.

Counselling man to treat her as a slave while persuading her that she is a queen.

At bottom, antipsychiatry is still psychiatry. And it doesn't really address itself to women's problems.

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.

Few books are more thrilling than certain confessions, but they must be honest, and the author must have something to confess.

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.

Harmony between two individuals is never granted-it has to be conquered indefinitely.

Can one say that there is a way of crying out, of speaking, which is properly feminine? Personally, I don't think so. In the end, I find this is another way of putting women in a kind of singularity, a ghetto, which is not what I want. I want them to be singular and universal at the same time.

There is a kind of universality in the human condition, masculine or feminine. That's one thing I continue to believe.

Feminism is one way of attacking society as it now exists.

It is for man to establish the reign of liberty in the midst of the world of the given. To gain the supreme victory, it is necessary, for one thing, that by and through their natural differentiation men and women unequivocally affirm their brotherhood.

I went to get a detective story. You have to kill time. But time will kill me too -- and there´s the true, preestablished balance.

To protest in the name of morality against 'excesses' or 'abuses' is an error which hints on active complicity. There are no 'abuses' or 'excesses' here, simpily an all-pervasive system.

At the moment of their emancipation, women have a need to write their own histories.

The emancipation of women must be the work of women themselves, independent of the class struggle.

Authentic love must be founded on reciprocal recognition of two freedoms. For each of them, love would be the revelation of the self through the gift of the self and the enrichment of the universe.

The day had been spent in the expectation of these hours, and now they were crumbling away, becoming, in their turn, another period of expectancy...It was a journey without end, leading to an indefinite future, eternally shifting just as she was reaching the present.

You can't define the future. And in my opinion, you can't define the avant-garde.

Jealousy is not contemptible, real love has a beak and claws.

I could see no reason for being sad. It´s just that it makes me unhappy not to feel happy.

I don't want to be just another blade of grass.

Woman is shut up in a kitchen or in a boudoir, and astonishment is expressed that her horizon is limited. Her wings are clipped, and it is found deplorable that she cannot fly.

Every war, every revolution, demands the sacrifice of a generation, of a collectivity, by those who undertake it.

Anger or revolt that does not get into the muscles remains a figment of the imagination.

The fear of death never left me; I couldn't get used to the thought; I would still sometimes shake and weep with terror. By contrast, the fact of existence here and now sometimes took on a glorious splendour.

It is not in giving life but in risking life that man is raised above the animal; that is why superiority has been accorded in humanity no to the sex that brings forth but to that which kills.

As long as there have been men and they have lived, they have all felt this tragic ambiguity of their condition, but as long as there have been philosophers and they have thought, most of them have tried to mask it.

From the very beginning, existentialism defined itself as a philosophy of ambiguity.

That's what's so wonderful about you, you're so self-sufficient that I feel that you've created your own self.

It is doubtless impossible to approach any human problems with a mind free from bias.

My worst mistake has been not grasping that time goes by. It was going by and there I was, set in the attitude of the ideal wife of an ideal husband. Instead of bringing our sexual relationship to life again I brooded happily over memories of our former nights together.

Feminism is a revolutionary movement which is different from the class struggle movement, the proletarian movement, but which is a movement which must be leftist. By that I mean at the extreme left, a movement working to overthrow the whole society.

If the feminine issue is so absurd, is because the male's arrogance made it a discussion.

To show your true ability is always, in a sense, to surpass the limits of your ability, to go a little beyond them: to dare, to seek, to invent; it is at such a moment that new talents are revealed, discovered, and realized.

There is no such thing as a natural death: nothing that happens to a man is ever natural, since his presence calls the world into question. All men must die: but for every man his death is an accident and, even if he knows it and consents to it, an unjustifiable violation.

Americans are nature-lovers: but they only admit of nature proofed and corrected by man.

What an odd thing a diary is: the things you omit are more important than those you put in.

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.

The day knowledge was preferred to wisdom and mere usefulness to beauty... Only a moral revolution -- not a social or a political revolution -- only a moral revolution would lead man back to his lost truth.

Suddenly I was struck motionless: I was living through the first chapter of a novel in which I was the heroine; she was still almost a child, but we, too, were growing up.

Sometimes speech is no more than a device for saying nothing -- and a neater one than silence.

It's true that what you find in New York is something other than America. Only small towns and small countries are self-satisfied; a real capital goes beyond its borders.

When someone you love dies you pay for the sin of outliving her with a thousand piercing regrets.

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.

Picasso never thought of himself as avant-garde. I just find it a bad way to think of yourself.

I realized that even if we went on talking till Judgment Day, I would still find the time all too short.

The way I approached a question, my habit of mind, the way I looked at things, what I took for granted -- all this was myself and it did not seem to me that I could alter it.

I willingly trust myself to chance. I let my thoughts wander, I digress, not only sitting at my work, but all day long, all night even. It often happens that a sentence suddenly runs through my head before I go to bed, or when I am unable to sleep, and I get up again and write it down.

You have to start from where you are today and from what can be done.

Legislators, priests, philosophers, writers, ans scientists have striven to show that the subordinate position of woman is willed in heaven and advantageous on earth.

When Goya was 80 he drew an ancient man propped on two sticks, with a great mass of white hair and beard all over his face, and the inscription, I am still learning.

She offered her mouth to him, as if enchanted. A Persian princess, a little Indian, a fox, a morning glory, a lovely wisteria -- it always pleased them when you told them they looked like something, like something else.

That's what I consider true generosity. You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.

The Communists, following Hegel, speak of humanity and its future as of some monolithic individuality. I was attacking this illusion.

Woman has always been man's dependent, if not his slave; the two sexes have never shaped the world in equality. And even today woman is heavily handicapped, though her situation is beginning to change.

It is not the inferiority of women that has caused their historical insignificance; it is rather their historical insignificance that has doomed them to inferiority.

Indeed, there is nothing more arbitrary than intervening as a stranger in a destiny which is not ours.

The human species is forever in a state of change, forever becoming.

One day I'll be old, dead, forgotten. And at this very moment, while I'm sitting here thinking these things, a man in a dingy hotel room is thinking, I will always be here.

There was a time, in the nineteenth century, for example, when women spoke mostly about the house, children, birth, and so forth, because it was their domain. That's changing a little, now.

Old age is life's parody.

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.

One can not, without absurdity, indefinitely sacrifice each generation to the following one; human history would then be only an endless succession of negations which would never return to the positive.

The state of emotional intoxication allows one to grasp existence in one's self and in the other, as both subjectivity and passivity. The two partners merge in this ambiguous unity; each one is freed of his own presence and achieves immediate communication with the other.

Insects were scurrying about in the shade cast by the grass, and the lawn was a huge monotonous forest of thousands of little green blades, all equal, all alike, hiding the world from each other. Anguished, she thought, I don't want to be just another blade of grass.

I think it's wrong to write in a totally esoteric language when you want to talk about things which interest a multitude of women.

She confessed her preference for trousers; every active woman likes low heels and sturdy materials. The significance of woman's attire is evident: it is decoration, and to be decorated means to be offered.

Anyway I know only too well that all life is nothing but a brief reprieve from death.

It is perfectly natural for the future woman to feel indignant at the limitations posed upon her by her sex. The real question is not why she should reject them: the problem is rather to understand why she accepts them.

To make something good of the future, you have to look the present in the face.

Being on the fringes of the world is not the best place for someone who intends to re-create it: here again, to go beyond the given, one must be deeply rooted in it. Personal accomplishments are almost impossible in human categories collectively kept in an inferior situation.

Living by proxy is always a precarious expedient.

Retirement revives the sorrow of parting, the feeling of abandonment, solitude and uselessness that is caused by the loss of some beloved person.

Self-consciousness is not knowledge but a story one tells about oneself.

A writer is hoisted up onto a pedestal only to scrutinize him more closely and conclude that it was a mistake to put him up there in the first place.

The nearer I come to the end of my days, the more I am enabled to see that strange thing, a life, and to see it whole.

However gifted an individual is at the outset, if his or her talents cannot be developed because of his or her social condition, because of the surrounding circumstances, these talents will be still-born.

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