Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre: The Remaking of a Twentieth-Century Legend

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre: The Remaking of a Twentieth-Century Legend

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre: The Remaking of a Twentieth-Century Legend

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre: The Remaking of a Twentieth-Century Legend

Excerpt

We always intended, since the inception of this project, to devote our introductory remarks to our experience of the process of collaboratively writing a study of one of the most famous collaborations of the century - the extraordinary personal and intellectual partnership between Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. We had developed, separately, long-term interests in the couple and in their work, and though the nature of our interests varied, we were intrigued to see what would happen when we combined our fascination, knowledge, and, at times, annoyance with well-known aspects of our subjects' life histories. At the beginning of our research, we felt we were treading well-known ground. After all, Beauvoir, in her four volumes of autobiography and in her studies of her mother's and Sartre's deaths, had provided enough material for any biographical undertaking. Sartre, like Beauvoir, was also the author of a classic autobiography, The Words, and the highly revelatory War Diaries. It seemed clear to us that the couple had themselves left more information than we could possibly use within the confines of a relatively brief study. In addition to their autobiographies, there were their many articles, travel writings and interviews on which to draw. It seemed to us, for a time, that Beauvoir and Sartre could scarcely have had time to live: they must have been too busy narrating their own experiences to so much as eat without pens in their hands or tape recorders at their elbows. They seemed to have specialized in telling all ... repeatedly.

Further, we soon became aware of just how well the couple had been served by their biographers. It is the most obvious of truisms to note how serious research concentrates attention, and we soon realized just how much ground the dedicated biographers of Beauvoir and Sartre, whom we . . .

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