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Diary of a Philosophy Student

Diary of a Philosophy Student: Volume 1, 1926-27

Barbara Klaw
Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir
Margaret A. Simons,
with Marybeth Timmermann
Foreword by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir
Translations, Notes, and Annotations by Barbara Klaw
Barbara Klaw
Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    Diary of a Philosophy Student
    Book Description:

    Dating from her years as a philosophy student at the Sorbonne, this is the 1926-27 diary of the teenager who would become the famous French philosopher, author, and feminist, Simone de Beauvoir. Written years before her first meeting with Jean-Paul Sartre, these diaries reveal previously unknown details about her life and offer critical insights into her early philosophy and literary works. Presented here for the first time in translation and fully annotated, the diary is completed by essays from Barbara Klaw and Margaret A. Simons that address its philosophical, historical, and literary significance. The volume represents an invaluable resource for tracing the development of Beauvoir’s independent thinking and influence on the world.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09721-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword to the Beauvoir Series
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir

    It is my pleasure to honor the monumental work of research and publication that the Beauvoir Series represents, which was undertaken and brought to fruition by Margaret A. Simons and her team. These volumes of Simone de Beauvoir’s writings, concerning literature as well as philosophy and feminism, stretch from 1926 to 1979, that is to say, throughout almost her entire life. Some of them have been published before and are known, but they remain dispersed throughout time and space, in diverse editions, newspapers, or reviews. Other pieces were read by Beauvoir during conferences or radio programs and then lost from...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Margaret A. Simons

    Some readers may be surprised to find a teenage diary included in a series on the philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir, but a fully annotated, scholarly translation of Beauvoir’s student diary, dating from her years as a philosophy student at the Sorbonne, has been a key part of the Beauvoir Series from the beginning. In addition to revealing previously unknown details about the life of one of the twentieth century’s most important and fascinating writers, Beauvoir’s student diary provides access to her early philosophy, written years before her first meeting with Jean-Paul Sartre, whom most critics have credited with originating...

  6. The Literary and Historical Context of Beauvoir’s Early Writings: 1926–27
    (pp. 7-28)
    Barbara Klaw

    Simone de Beauvoir is the Paris-born author of five novels, one play, two collections of short stories, numerous volumes of autobiography, lengthy volumes of correspondence with several men, a war diary, and a wide variety of philosophical and political essays. Her most revolutionary sociopolitical essay,Le deuxième sexe(The Second Sex), concerns the mythical and real relationships between men and women in society. It laid the foundation for twentieth-century discourses concerning sexuality and gender relations, and for feminism after 1949. There are those who hold that Beauvoir has yet to be fully understood and that inLe deuxième sexeshe...

  7. Beauvoir’s Early Philosophy: 1926–27
    (pp. 29-50)
    Margaret A. Simons

    For philosophers familiar with the traditional interpretation of Simone de Beauvoir as a literary writer and philosophical follower of Jean-Paul Sartre, Beauvoir’s 1926 – 27 student diary is a revelation. Inviting an exploration of Beauvoir’s early philosophy foreclosed by the traditional interpretation, the student diary shows Beauvoir’s dedication to becoming a philosopher and her own formulation of philosophical problems and positions usually attributed to Sartre’s influence, such as the central problem of “the opposition of self and other,” years before she first met Sartre in 1929.

    Also challenging the traditional interpretation of Beauvoir’s work is the wide range of authors quoted...


    • Second Notebook August 6–December 2, 1926
      (pp. 53-224)

      Nothing is more cowardly than to violate a secret when nobody is there to defend it. I have always suffered horribly from every indiscretion, but if someone, anyone, reads these pages, I will never forgive him. He will thus be doing a bad and ugly deed.

      Please respect this warning despite its ridiculous solemnity.

      Second notebook(Stopped December 1926)¹

      Everything that happens to me is so important!

      (J. Rivière)²

      You say that you do not want to give me pain and suffering, But it is that which I expect from you and that is my role.


      What good are...

    • Fourth Notebook April 17–October 21, 1927
      (pp. 225-336)

      The years gone by can be held in the hollow of my hand. Will even one very light cinder remain of the one who I am today? Easter Sunday 1927! The vague memory of past holidays does not move me. Deep down, I barely like my childhood. Rarely do I glance behind the partition that brusquely appeared at the beginning of 1926 to split my life in two. It does not seem to me that any link attaches me to the little girl whom I was; although sometimes I am amused to find in her some of the traits of...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 337-348)
  10. Index
    (pp. 349-374)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 375-378)