Politics with Beauvoir
Freedom in the Encounter
Duke University Press 2017
New Books in French StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network August 21, 2017 Lilly Goren
Lori Marso’s new book, Politics with Beauvoir: Freedom in the Encounter (Duke University Press, 2017), delves into Simone de Beauvoir’s political thought, feminism, and activism. The text is a fascinating exploration of these topics and complexities, but Marso takes Beauvoir’s work even further, connecting these concepts to what Marso has defined as the encounter interpreting Beauvoir’s account of the idea of freedom and the experience of freedom not only as an individual but in its relationality. Marso’s impressive engagement with Beauvoir is not just in exploring the theoretical partnering that Beauvoir has with her intellectual contemporaries like Richard Wright and Frantz Fanon, but also in putting Beauvoir into conversation with other theorists and artists, like Lars von Trier–through Beauvoir’s work on Marquis de Sade, or Allison Bechdel–as a fellow feminist theorist, or Hannah Arendt–on the topic of confronting evil and violence. The book is structured into three sections, focusing the reader’s attention on the concepts of enemies, allies, and friends, and how these personal relationships are, by definition, political, and how Beauvoir’s work and thought can and should be used to analyze contemporary cultural artifacts as well as the urgent issues of her day. Marso interrogate Beauvoir’s concept of freedom but not without also connecting that concept to its relational engagement with violence, with oppression, with colonialism, and with the broader expanse of how we think about ourselves within personal and political structures and encounters.