Simone de Simone de Beauvoir and the Cold War : repression on the other side of the Berlin Wall : support of the 1956 rebellion in Budapest and her distance with the USSR and the French Communist Party.

October 8th, 2009


Simone de Simone de Beauvoir, modernité et engagement, Simone de Simone de Beauvoir, modern and committedClaudine Monteil, Ed L’Harmattan ISBN 978-2-296-10025-1

In this essay I examine Beauvoir’s difficult and contentious relationship with the USSR. In 1956, she had the courage to provide the Hungarian people a forum to tell detailed stories of their resistance to the brutal Communist invasion in a remarkable special issue of Les Temps Modernes. My essay provides quotations from this issue, and in this essay I give the details of the evolution of her relationship with the Hungarian rebels and with the French left.

The title of the Beauvoir’s articles, such as “The Years of Intellectual Terror (1949-1953)”, are in themselves polemics, and reveal that she was quite depressed during this era. At the time when the French left needed to be united on the question of the Algerian war, internal fights divided the opposition. Beauvoir, who was viciously attacked by many on the Left when The Second Sex was published, was attacked yet again, sometimes brutally, by the Communists.

I spoke with Beauvoir about these attacks on her political work, and she reminded me that since in the 1970s we were also dismissed and denigrated because we were fighting for women’s rights. “One gets used to it. We just need to continue,” she said.


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