Written from September 1939 to January 1941, Simone de Beauvoir’s Wartime Diary gives English readers unabridged access to one of the scandalous texts that threaten to overturn traditional views of Beauvoir’s life and work. The account in Beauvoir’s Wartime Diary of her clandestine affair with Jacques Bost and sexual relationships with various young women challenges the conventional picture of Beauvoir as the devoted companion of Jean-Paul Sartre, just as her account of completing her novel She Came to Stay at a time when Sartre’s philosophy in Being and Nothingness was barely begun calls into question the traditional view of Beauvoir’s novel as merely illustrating Sartre’s philosophy.
Most important, the Wartime Diary provides an exciting account of Beauvoir’s philosophical transformation from the prewar solipsism of She Came to Stay to the postwar political engagement of The Second Sex. Cast in the crucible of the Nazi Occupation, Beauvoir’s existentialist ethics reflects dramatic collective experiences, such as joining the tide of refugees fleeing the German invasion in June 1940, as well as the courageous reaffirmation of her individuality in constructing a humanist ethics of freedom and solidarity in January 1941.
This edition also features previously unpublished material, including her musings about consciousness and order, recommended reading lists, and notes on labor unions. In providing new insights into Beauvoir’s philosophical development, the Wartime Diary promises to rewrite a crucial chapter of Western philosophy and intellectual history.
“What gives these notebooks additional zest and texture are allusions to an unexpectedly wide range of writers the diarist read during these searing days. . . . English readers are now afforded a very different portrait of the feminist philosopher approaching middle age in this well-annotated volume.” -- Publishers Weekly
“The revelations in Beauvoir’s Wartime Diary are stunning, stimulating, and exciting. This diary shows the importance of Beauvoir’s influence on Sartre and the originality of her own thought. It gives the English-speaking audience a first glimpse into the world in which Beauvoir wrote some of her most important novels and philosophical books.” -- Kelly Oliver, editor of The French Feminism Reader and The Portable Kristeva
“There is nothing to compete with Beauvoir’s Wartime Diary; the translation is clear, jargon-free, and engaging. Not only is the diary a very significant contribution to Beauvoir scholarship, but it is also an amazing eyewitness testimonial of what daily life in and near Paris was like for civilians under the German occupation. Once I started reading it, I literally couldn’t put it down.” -- Claudia Card, author of The Cambridge Companion to Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir (1908–86) was a French existentialist philosopher who employed a literary-philosophical method in her essays, including Ethics of Ambiguity (1946) and The Second Sex (1949), as well as in her novels, multivolume autobiography, and other works. Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir, adopted daughter and literary executor of Simone de Beauvoir, is the editor of Lettres à Sartre and many other works by Beauvoir. Margaret A. Simons is a professor and chair of philosophy at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and the author of Beauvoir and The Second Sex: Feminism, Race and the Origins of Existentialism. Anne Deing Cordero is a professor emerita of French at George Mason University.