Jacket Image

Enlarge Image

200 × 130 × 13 mm
192 pages
36 illustrations
01 Jun 2009
Critical Lives

Simone de Beauvoir Ursula Tidd

‘One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman,’ wrote Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) in her controversial bestseller The Second Sex (1949), widely acclaimed as the founding book of modern feminism. Beauvoir lived through some of the most dramatic and harrowing events of the twentieth century, a time of huge change for women across the world. Ursula Tidd illuminates these and many other facets of Beauvoir's complex personality: her relentless autobiographical drive, living life as a continually unfolding narrative; her personal and intellectual relationships, essentially lived as a series of dialogues with a variety of interlocutors, including Jean-Paul Sartre and Nelson Algren; her active involvement in political struggles; and how Beauvoir the woman became Beauvoir the myth.

This concise and up-to-date appraisal of the life and works of the quintessential feminist intellectual draws on the most recent scholarship on Beauvoir's work, and on newly published and extant volumes of her diaries and correspondence, to allow the reader unrivalled access to the voice of this pivotal modern figure.

‘Tidd does an excellent job of linking the life to the work . . . This is an accessible study that doesnt reduce or simplify De Beauvoirs work in any way, while simultaneously attempting to understand her way of living.’ — Independent on Sunday

‘The task of presenting a major thinker and prolific writer in such a short space cannot have been easy, but Tidd has done it very well. She has synthesized a lot of information and presented it in a clear narrative . . . she expertly weaves together Beauvoirs life and the major historical events of the twentieth century and shows what impact these have had on her thinking and writing . . . Tidd obviously respects Beauvoir, and this is reflected in the tactful handling of some of the more controversial aspects of her life. This is an excellent introduction to Beauvoir's work, life, and myth.’ — Modern language Review

‘Ursula Tidd distils some of her earlier groundbreaking analysis on Beauvoir's understanding of self and other, and resituates it in a more general appraisal of the authors life and works . . . particularly helpful for students, or indeed anyone looking for a way into Beauvoir's oeuvre . . . a wide-ranging and informative study.’ — French Studies

‘Tidds brief survey of Beauvoirs life ends with a poignant commentary: She sought to inscribe a path of freedom from which those who came after her could derive their own. Tidd offers her readers a roadmap to that path which is well worth following.’ — Metapsychology

Show all

Ursula Tidd is Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Manchester. She is the author of Simone de Beauvoir, Gender and Testimony (1999).

1   The Birth of an Intellectual
2   The Problem of the Other
3   The Discovery of History
4   Becoming a Woman
5   Bearing Witness
6   The Death of the Other
7   All Said and Done: Castor the Myth
Select Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements