The Second Sex Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 13, 2010
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“[A] masterpiece. . . . Restores essential passages that have been missing for 60 years.” —The Times
“Groundbreaking. . . . A fresh, much expanded, more intelligible book which repays re-reading by adherents of the old version, and cries out for attention from young women who have not been exposed to this most powerful of feminist thinkers. The Second Sex [is] the foundation text of second-wave feminism. It is probably the most important and influential philosophical treatise of the 20th century.” —The Irish Times
“The Second Sex is an inquiry into a subject with profound implications for the entire human race, and its ideas are as fresh and inspiring as they were when [Beauvoir] began work. . . . Now Beauvoir’s great work is available in a full English translation for the first time. . . . It is a fine piece of work, a lucid translation.” —The Independent
About the Author
Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier, both American, are longtime residents of France and former teachers at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris.
Judith Thurman, author of Isak Dinesen and Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette, is a staff writer at The New Yorker.
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From pages 381 – 382:
"The girl’s character and behavior express her situation: if it changes, the adolescent girl’s attitude also changes. Today, it is becoming possible for her to take her future in her hands, instead of putting it in those of the man. If she is absorbed by studies, sports, a professional training, or a social and political activity, she frees herself from the male obsession; she is less preoccupied by love and sexual conflicts. However, she has a harder time than the young man in accomplishing herself as an autonomous individual. I have said that neither her family nor customs assist her attempts. Besides, even if she chooses independence, she still makes a place in her life for the man, for love. She will often be afraid of missing her destiny as a woman if she gives herself over entirely to any undertaking. She does not admit this feeling to herself: but it is there, it distorts all her best efforts, it sets up limits. In any case, the woman who works wants to reconcile her success with purely feminine successes; that not only requires devoting considerable time to her appearance and beauty but also, what is more serious, implies that her vital interests are divided. Outside of his regular studies, the male student amuses himself by freely exercising his mind, and from there emerge his best discoveries; the woman’s daydreams are oriented in a different direction: she will think of her physical appearance, of man, of love, she will give the bare minimum to her studies to her career, whereas in these areas nothing is as necessary as the superfluous. It is not a question of mental weakness, of a lack of concentration, but of a split in her interests that do not coincide well. A vicious circle is knotted here: people are often surprised to see how easily a woman gives up music, studies, or a job as soon as she has found a husband; this is because she had committed too little of herself to her projects to derive benefit from their accomplishment. Everything converges to hold back her personal ambition while enormous social pressure encourages her to find a social position and justification in marriage. It is natural that she should not seek to create her place in this world by and for herself or that she should seek it timidly. As long as perfect economic equality is not realized in society and as long as customs allow the woman to profit as wife and mistress from the privileges held by certain men, the dream of passive success will be maintained in her and will hold back her own accomplishments."
From page 612:
"Cinderella does not always dream of Prince Charming: husband or lover, she fears he may change into a tyrant; she prefers to dream of her own smiling face on a movie theater marquee. But it is more often thanks to her masculine “protection” that she will attain her goal; and it is men---husbands, lovers, suitors---who confirm her triumph by letting her share their fortune or their fame. It is this need to please another or a crowd that connects the movie star to the hetaera. They play a similar role in society: I will use the word "hetaera" to designate women who use not only their bodies but also their entire position as exploitable capital. Their attitude is very different from that of a creator who, transcending himself in a work, goes beyond the given and appeals to a freedom in others to whom he opens up the future; the hetaera does not uncover the world, she opens no road to human transcendence: on the contrary, she seeks to take possession of it for her profit; offering herself for the approval of her admirers, she does not disavow this passive femininity that dooms her to man: she endows it with a magic power that allows her to take males into the trap of her presence, and to feed herself on them; she engulfs them with herself in immanence."
I couldn’t have said it better myself! This is an amazingly accurate description of the endless parade of the interchangeable and artless "scion" of young women (and there's no shortage of men, that fit this bill too), produced by Hollywood and the music industry here in the US and abroad. Their only talent is "self-aggrandizement" and "publicity" thanks to the polluted world of social media.
I could go on and on about this all-important work, that is not only relative to women or "feminism," but encompasses something for all of humanity in general as well, men and women alike. Her words are truly eloquent and poetic too, made all the more so in this new edition and translation by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier (thank-you, both), a huge debt of appreciation and gratitude is owed to them. I can truly say that Simone de Beauvoir was one of the greatest minds of our time, and believe me, there aren’t that many anyway! She herself acknowledges in how there are very few truly "great minds" in Art/Science/history that were women (due to their social position in the "hierarchy of man"), let alone very few men, for that matter. But, she explains that this is not due to some natural predisposition or biological cause, but is the result of the "man-made" world we live in, that is then assisted and enabled by the weak, unaware, unknowing, and just plain ignorant men and women that are willing to play along with the charade!
The Second Sex (hardcover) by Simone de Beauvoir, complete and unabridged for the first time. Translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. Alfred A. Knopf, New York 2010.
Love and Peace,
Top international reviews
However, the issues I have with the book are that of print quality.
I bought this book for my university course - and have had to spend a lot of time deciphering the first word of each line of the text on the left-hand page because it is not printed properly. It becomes very frustrating and tiring. The difficulty of reading a book should be in the comprehension of the presentation and exploration of complex ideas - not trying to work out what the ink on the page says. I am thoroughly disappointed with the print quality of the text; particularly when the content of the text is so beautiful.