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Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter (Perennial Classics) Paperback – August 2, 2005
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“It is a book that will leave no one indifferent, and no one affected in quite the same way.” (New York Times)
“[Beauvoir’s] graciously written memoirs carry distinct appeal in recording the emotional and intellectual birth pangs of a fascinating woman.” (Time)
“This is perhaps the best piece of writing Mlle. de Beauvoir has yet done; the translator does it justice.” (Saturday Review)
About the Author
French Existentialist philosopher, novelist, essayist, editor, and groundbreaking feminist Simone De Beauvoir was born in Paris, where she lived most of her life. She was the author of the feminist classic The Second Sex, several volumes of autobiography, and highly acclaimed novels, including The Mandarins, winner of the Prix Goncourt.
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Top customer reviews
I do have some complaints. First, the first half of the book is exceptionally exhaustive. She gives detailed descriptions of things that could have easily been summarized. Second, I was expecting this book to elaborate on Beauvoir's early relationship with Sartre. Roughly ten pages are dedicated to Sartre. While her description of Sartre is effusive, it's very short!
Third, her memoirs give only a starting point for her intellectual curiosity. I guess I'll have to read "The Prime of Life" :)
not only is a great insight into Parisian and French life at the turn of the 20th
Century, but shows the growth of a great writer. Her seminal work, The Second Sex,
which was published in 1948, made her a star--a writer ticked off about how women
had been treated in society. From that book onward, her insights and philosophy, along
with Sartre and other intellectuals, made the world sit up and take notice.
De Beauvoir, in Dutiful Daughter, shows you a single-minded young girl who suddenly
becomes a beautiful woman with a lot on her mind. One of the great thinkers,
along with Hanna Arendt, of our time.
"The most innocent conversations were full of hidden traps; my parents construed my words with their own idiom and ascribed to me ideas that had nothing in common with what I really thought. I found myself repeating Barres' phrase: 'Why have words when their brutal precision bruises our complicated souls'. As soon as I opened my mouth, I provided them with a stick to beat me with, and once more I would be shut up in that world which I had spent years trying to get away from, in which everything, without any possibility of mistake, has its own name, its set place and its agreed function, in which hate and love, good and evil are as crudely differentiated as black and white, in which from the start everything is classified, catalogued, fixed and formulated, and irrevocably judged; that world with the sharp edges, its bare outlines starkly illuminated by an implacable flat light that is never once touched by the shadow of doubt."
In Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, Simone de Beauvoir lives in a stark black-and-white world with no gray areas or blurred edges. Everything is stiff and rigid -- almost suffocatingly so -- she cannot breathe (philosophically speaking) and cries a lot. "Dutifulness" has a death-grip around her throat! She abhors blatant tradition, mindless religious rites and glaring absurdity -- but, she loves Paris, books, her first cousin Jacques, writing and nature!
The Luxembourg garden in Paris (filled with picturesque fountains, diverse minds and fragrant flowers, near the Sorbonne university) plays a major (inspirational) focal point in her formative years. At a very early age, Simone decides she will become a world renowned writer -- but, in order to accomplish such a feat, must give up any idea of marriage and children -- at least in the traditional sense. She plans to focus all her creative energies toward her #1 passion, writing.
A meticulous undertaking, satisfying -- very "Dutiful". --Katharena Eiermann, 2007, the Realm of Existentialism, Presidential Hopeful