Simone de Beauvoir and Michel Foucault. Simone de Beauvoir and structuralism.

October 22nd, 2009


Simone de Beauvoir, modernité et engagement,

Simone de Beauvoir, modern and committed

Claudine Monteil, Ed L’Harmattan ISBN 978-2-296-10025-1

In the 1970’s, I met Michel Foucault who knew my parents when they were students together at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (equivalent of Harvard in France). Witty and extremely bright, I was pleased to have discussions with him on our actions for human rights. One day though, his tone changed. He became more sarcastic, especially when I was mentioning our feminist struggles to change women’s condition in France.

I spoke about it to Simone de Beauvoir: “It does not surprise me, we have had disagreements.” Foucault had heard about my friendship with Beauvoir. She reminded me that she and Sartre are criticized Foucault’s book Les Mots et les Choses. I mention in detail the political and philosophical issues, which could have explained this mutual hostility.

It is with regret that I watched this disagreement, because it seems to me that Beauvoir and Foucault could have agreed on a certain causes. They both fought for human rights. They were activists together but never reconciled. In this chapter I explain why and give details of it.


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