"[Old] age is a problem on which all the failures of society converge. And this is why it is so carefully hidden."

— Simone de Beauvoir, interview to Nina Sutton about her book La Vieillesse (The Guardian, Feb. 16, 1970) 

Mosaic portrait of Simone De Beauvoir made out of butterflies. Created for the cover of Womankind magazine in Australia. By Charis Tsevis.

Mosaic portrait of Simone De Beauvoir made out of butterflies. Created for the cover of Womankind magazine in Australia. By Charis Tsevis.

"The erotic experience is one that most poignantly discloses to human beings the ambiguity of their condition; in it they are aware of themselves as flesh and as spirit, as the other and as the subject. This conflict has more dramatic shape for woman because at first she feels herself to be object and does not at once realize a sure independence in sex enjoyment; she must regain her dignity as transcendent and free subject while assuming her carnal condition - an enterprise fraught with difficulty and danger, and one that often fails."

— Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, p. 402

"It continues to be more difficult for a woman than for a man to establish the relations with the other sex that she desires. Her erotic and affectional life encounters numerous difficulties. In this matter the unemancipated woman is i no way privileged: sexually and affectionally most wives and courtesans are deeply frustrated. If the difficulties are more evident in the case of the independent woman, it is because she has chosen battle rather than resignation."

— Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, p. 686

Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre et Claude Lanzmann, Egypte, 1967. Photo: Gallimard.

"Vous savez, pour moi l’existence ne va pas de soi, bien que j’aie toujours été très heureuse, peut-être parce que je veux tellement être heureuse. J’aime avec passion la vie, j’abomine l’idée de devoir mourir. Je suis terriblement avide, aussi, je veux tout de la vie, être une femme et aussi un homme, avoir beaucoup d’amis, et aussi la solitude, travailler énormément, écrire de bons livres, et aussi voyager, m’amuser, être égoïste, et aussi généreuse… Vous voyez, ce n’est pas facile d’avoir tout ce que je veux. Or quand je n’y parviens pas, ça me rend folle de colère."

Simone de Beauvoir, lettre à Nelson Algren, 3 juillet 1947.

Simone de Beauvoir and her sister Hélène de Beauvoir. Sartre’s funeral. Cemitière Montparnasse, Paris, April 19, 1980. Photo: France Presse Archives.

Simone de Beauvoir and her sister Hélène de Beauvoir. Sartre’s funeral. Cemitière Montparnasse, Paris, April 19, 1980. Photo: France Presse Archives.

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. Brasserie La Coupole, Paris, 1969. Photo: Bruno Barbey.

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. Brasserie La Coupole, Paris, 1969. Photo: Bruno Barbey.

Simone de Beauvoir e Jean-Paul Sartre. Sestiere San Marco, Venezia, Italia, 1976. Fotografia: Archivo Graziano Arici. 

Simone de Beauvoir e Jean-Paul Sartre. Sestiere San Marco, Venezia, Italia, 1976. Fotografia: Archivo Graziano Arici. 

Simone de Beauvoir (droite), sa mère Françoise et sa soeur Hélène vers 1912. Lieu unconnu. Photo: collection de famille.

Simone de Beauvoir (droite), sa mère Françoise et sa soeur Hélène vers 1912. Lieu unconnu. Photo: collection de famille.

"Un vero romanzo non si lascia quindi né ridurre in formule né raccontare; non si può slegarne il senso più di quanto non si possa staccare un sorriso da un volto. Anche se produce delle parole, esso esiste come gli oggetti del mondo che eccedono tutto ciò che se ne può dire con delle parole. E senza dubbio, quell’oggetto è stato costruito da un uomo e quest’uomo aveva un progetto; ma la sua presenza deve essere ben nascosta, altrimenti questa operazione magica che è il sortilegio romanzesco non potrebbe compiersi; come il sogno esplode in pezzi se la minima percezione si rivela come tale al dormiente, così la credenza immaginaria si dilegua non appena si pensa di confrontarla con la realtà: non si può porre l’esistenza del romanziere senza negare quella dei suoi eroi."

— Simone de Beauvoir, Letteratura e metafisica (traduzione di Beatrice Catini - testo integrale qui)

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre arrested for selling the banned newspaper La Cause du Peuple. Paris, 1970. Photographer: unknown.
(By arresting them - together with newspaper’s editors and reporters and press freedom activists - the French police made exactly what both philosophers had in mind: call all attentions to the banned newspaper and the fact that free expression didn’r exist in France. The police tried to release Beauvoir and Sartre a few minutes later, but they denied and said they would only leave the police station if they released also the others. And so it was done.)

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre arrested for selling the banned newspaper La Cause du Peuple. Paris, 1970. Photographer: unknown.

(By arresting them - together with newspaper’s editors and reporters and press freedom activists - the French police made exactly what both philosophers had in mind: call all attentions to the banned newspaper and the fact that free expression didn’r exist in France. The police tried to release Beauvoir and Sartre a few minutes later, but they denied and said they would only leave the police station if they released also the others. And so it was done.)

"Nelson, meu amor, recebi suas cartas esta tarde em Estocolmo e entrei em uma pequena conditorei (uma confeitaria) em frente ao correio central para lê-las. Elas me causaram muita satisfação, e o dia todo pensei o quanto eu o amava. É meia noite, estou morta de cansaço, mas é preciso lhe dizer: eu o amo muito! É espantoso como o compreendo e como você me compreende, e essa compreensão recíproca é uma das coisas mais preciosas no nosso amor."

— Simone de Beauvoir em carta a Nelson Algren, 13 de agosto de 1947.

"Je souhaitais que toute vie humaine fût une pure liberté transparente : et je me rencontrais dans la vie des autres comme une barrière opaque ; je ne pouvais pas m’y résigner."

— Simone de Beauvoir, Le Sang des Autres

And remember: when reading Simone de Beauvoir, mark only the most important information.