Kate Kirkpatrick

Sep 10, 2019

Becoming Beauvoir

A Life

Bloomsbury Academic 2019

purchase at bookshop.org Kate Kirkpatrick is a lecturer in Religion, Philosophy and Culture at King’s College London and author of Becoming Beauvoir: A Life (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019). Kirkpatrick has given us a biography that addresses the puzzle and contradictions of the life of the philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, drawn from never-before-published diaries and letters to tell the fascinating story of how choices shaped her life. Beauvoir, a writer and feminist icon, won prestigious literary prizes and scandalized many with her now classic The Second Sex. She is now celebrated, but during her life she was a controversial figure both by conventional and feminists’ standards. As one who chose to write about lived ideas, both in fiction and essays, rather than build philosophical systems she was easily dismissed as Jean-Paul Sartre’s overly loyal side kick. Kirkpatrick shows how Beauvoir’s thinking evolved as a feminist and a philosopher – labels she was reluctant to embrace. The author reexamines the overemphasis on Beauvoir’s atheism, the extent of her political engagement, and her ethical failures in regard to third parties in the Sartre/Beauvoir relational triads. Beginning with her childhood to her adoption of Sylvie Le Bon, Kirkpatrick focuses on the significant relationships in Beauvoir’s life to expand our understand of how they shaped her thinking about the nature of subjectivity. Becoming Beauvoir demonstrates how the choices we make shape who we become.
Lilian Calles Barger, www.lilianbarger.com, is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her most recent book is entitled The World Come of Age: An Intellectual History of Liberation Theology, (Oxford University Press, 2018). Her current research project is on the intellectual history of feminist thought seen through the emblematic life and work of Simone de Beauvoir.

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