My conversations with Simone de Beauvoir on the characters in her novels

November 14th, 2009

In

Simone de Beauvoir, modernité et engagement,

Simone de Beauvoir, modern and committed

Claudine Monteil,

Ed L’Harmattan ISBN 978-2-296-10025-1


The second part of my book is called “the literary project as the expression of freedom and social solidarity” and it develops a literary and academic analysis of her writings.

I had the opportunity to talk about this matter in details with Simone de Beauvoir in the context of writing my PHD on her writings. These pages in my book have been written when Simone de Beauvoir was still alive, and you will find her reaction to my comments. We did not always have the same approach on her characters in her novels and I had real fruitful and friendly discussions with her.

Simone de Beauvoir read my PHD entirely before I received the best judgement from the jury.

Hélène de Beauvoir, her sister, was at my PHD defence and supported some of my criticizing on her characters. As a result, the two sisters had quite a discussion about my comments after our return from the PHD defence. Simone and I remained close friends until Beauvoir’s passing in 1986. Hélène used to stay at my apartment in Paris near the Schoelcher street and these are happy moments I recount in Les Amants de la liberté, Sartre et Beauvoir dans le siècle, Ed J’ai lu ISBN 978-2-290-31728-9 and in The Beauvoir Sisters, Seal Press, Avalon group ISBN 978-2-84612-2 vérifier ISBN

I analyze the jobs and life attitudes of Beauvoir characters in the context of literary writing, and of the love of the male and female characters. There are between them striking differences which I detail. Creative women, in particular secondary characters, are criticized in Beauvoir’s writing.

It was a frequent subject of discussion between Beauvoir and I. Despite the fact that I did make some remarks about it she would always answer me with warmth and affection. Walking me back to the entrance door of her apartment, she would blush and say to me these words I never forgot, “Thank you for devoting time to my work.”

I will never forget how humble she was as so few mention it nowadays. In a number of our meetings which were going to change women’s condition in France, she never mentioned her writings. She was too discreet and well educated.

Simone knew that we all had read her writings and that they were an inspiration to me. This made our conversations even more interesting when we would chat on her writings, and I could feel she trusted me in spite of our age difference (forty two years).

 CLAUDINE MONTEIL

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