ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

by Simone de Beauvoir

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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby nebraska » Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:33 pm

gemini, I did not stop to think about the part that alcohol played/might have played in Simone's behavior, but she does frequently mention whisky and other beverages. It seems when she drank, she drank the hard stuff. Artfully showing the parts of themselves that they wanted to be known may have been part of the game, "grooming" the public, as it were.

fireflydances, I don't think we want to be harsh judgmental people. I would hate to have to tell you the sordid details of my own life; however, I am not a "public figure", which Simone and Sartre chose to be. The behavior we are discussing in this question was dishonorable, in my opinion, not once but many times over a period of years, and it affected several other people; and while we are discussing the possible underlying causes and motives, I think mental instability is one valid possibility to consider. For me, it would be easier to forgive that than some of the alternatives. :-/ Their private lives and their professional lives were different, and the messy private lives they lived don't need to negate their scholarly achievements. On the other hand, I am not sure you can completely separate the two. Hundreds of shades of gray is a really good description!

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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby gemini » Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:17 pm

Yes Nebraska, you bring up a good point here. Simone seems to have started hard drinking very young and bars as well as cafes were her life style. Ironically she noticed the problem in Sartre and afraid his excessive drinking was affecting his health tried to stop him. I read that Simone did suffer from alcoholism to the point of it affecting her sound thinking in her last years. It seems Sylvie then had the same problem with her that she had trying to stop Sartre from drinking.

Fireflydances said
Geez though we use a tough yardstick on people don't we? Unfortunately I agree with you here, though it is hard to talk about her dealings with people without sounding overly critical. I may even find myself more liberal than Nebraska on this point, although our similar ages may tend to affect our outlook. As I said previously, I really don’t have a problem with her bisexuality. To each their own, its her harsh use of so called lovers that appalls me. And like Algren, I am sure not all of them wished their lives in print, which she intended all along. To her credit, she and Sartre used many aliases but it only took a few minutes of comparing books to see through them.
One other thought on this point was her harsh opinion of her early friend Marc Zuorro. She says he was very good looking when she first meets him as a young man. He dated Olga and Wanda and Simone even went out with him along with other women they knew. Later when she finds he has a crush on Bost she starts talking badly about him. He is bisexual, like her, but she has no tolerance at all and considers him an embarrassment. She considers him gay at this point and even forgets his association with most of the females in their so called family. She later refers to him as balding and ugly

I would prefer that we accept all sides of Simone, bad and good -- the talented and the dumb as dirt and even the 'you have got to be kidding' antics she pulled. Makes her human. Well, I guess I’ve done that. I have all five of her bios and 3 writiten by other authors. There is no way I can sit here with a straight face and say her life doesn’t interest me. Sadly as late I am getting just as bad about Sartre.
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby fireflydances » Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:31 pm

Fireflydances said:
I would prefer that we accept all sides of Simone, bad and good -- the talented and the dumb as dirt and even the 'you have got to be kidding' antics she pulled. Makes her human.
And Gemini said
Well, I guess I’ve done that. I have all five of her bios and 3 writiten by other authors. There is no way I can sit here with a straight face and say her life doesn’t interest me. Sadly as late I am getting just as bad about Sartre
.

I think we are very much in the same place. I believe one of my earliest posts somewhere in the ATLA question series regarded my discomfort with how she spoke about her friend in letters to Algren. I regard myself as an apprentice here, coming on after others have spent their time wisely reading and learning, and now -- i must play a good game of catch up.

Really enjoy this though. LOVE sitting around and talking about books and writers.
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby nebraska » Sat Oct 23, 2010 9:18 pm

gemini wrote:Yes Nebraska, you bring up a good point here. Simone seems to have started hard drinking very young and bars as well as cafes were her life style. Ironically she noticed the problem in Sartre and afraid his excessive drinking was affecting his health tried to stop him. I read that Simone did suffer from alcoholism to the point of it affecting her sound thinking in her last years. It seems Sylvie then had the same problem with her that she had trying to stop Sartre from drinking.

Fireflydances said
Geez though we use a tough yardstick on people don't we? Unfortunately I agree with you here, though it is hard to talk about her dealings with people without sounding overly critical. I may even find myself more liberal than Nebraska on this point, although our similar ages may tend to affect our outlook. As I said previously, I really don’t have a problem with her bisexuality. To each their own, its her harsh use of so called lovers that appalls me. And like Algren, I am sure not all of them wished their lives in print, which she intended all along. To her credit, she and Sartre used many aliases but it only took a few minutes of comparing books to see through them.

For me, the part that apalls me is the growing feeling I get that she and Sartre used these people and then sat and compared notes and laughed at them.

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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby stroch » Sat Oct 23, 2010 9:38 pm

I don't think Simone had real feelings for any of these people. Her lifestyle included alcohol, drugs, night life, sexual promiscuity, revolutionary politics, and the ferment of ideas -- a university student's ideal life. The common person's idea of morality just did not apply to those who were intellectually superior because it was just that -- common. It's as if she lived as an adolescent all of her life, indulging her whimseys, prattling on about her feelings, mocking the less gifted, looking always at herself.
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby Liz » Sat Oct 23, 2010 10:17 pm

nebraska wrote:For me, it would be easier to forgive that than some of the alternatives. :-/ Their private lives and their professional lives were different, and the messy private lives they lived don't need to negate their scholarly achievements. On the other hand, I am not sure you can completely separate the two. Hundreds of shades of gray is a really good description!

It is similar with politicians.

nebraska wrote:For me, the part that apalls me is the growing feeling I get that she and Sartre used these people and then sat and compared notes and laughed at them.

Yes, this bothered me too.


stroch wrote:I don't think Simone had real feelings for any of these people. Her lifestyle included alcohol, drugs, night life, sexual promiscuity, revolutionary politics, and the ferment of ideas -- a university student's ideal life. The common person's idea of morality just did not apply to those who were intellectually superior because it was just that -- common. It's as if she lived as an adolescent all of her life, indulging her whimseys, prattling on about her feelings, mocking the less gifted, looking always at herself.

This is an interesting description of Simone, stroch. We will be asking, in an upcoming question, for y'all to describe Simone. I'm looking forward to the descriptions that y'all come up with.

What I find interesting by all of these early affairs is that they seemed to keep it in the family. And to take it a step further, they seemed to be more attracted to the one the other was seeing at the time or their brother or sister or husband or wife or whatever. And sometimes they shared. I hate to say it, but I think Simone was more the orchestrator.
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby Buster » Sat Oct 23, 2010 10:47 pm

I'm far less well-read than many of you on this subject, and have only a general feel for deBeauvoir's relationships. However, what strikes me most is not her relatively cavalier attitude toward sex, nor her occasionally catty or mean remarks about her friends and lovers, but that she thinks that writing about her relationships is of value, or is of interest to readers. I think that convoluted and almost incestuous nature of her relationships is actually not too surprising; she was trying desperately to be neither bored nor boring. I, for one, am very grateful that her narcissism led her to reveal as much as she did.

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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby Lady Jill » Sun Oct 24, 2010 12:02 am

:goodvibes: Such enjoyment to read all your comments!
My take on all these affairs is that it all seems natual of the times! Viva La France! as also was in the US. Everyone was having affairs - remember free love? And I must say I have always had an impression that the French led the way. so perhaps our characters were just caught up in the times ( as well as politcal views, etc.).

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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby gemini » Sun Oct 24, 2010 12:30 am

Liz wrote:
What I find interesting by all of these early affairs is that they seemed to keep it in the family. And to take it a step further, they seemed to be more attracted to the one the other was seeing at the time or their brother or sister or husband or wife or whatever. And sometimes they shared. I hate to say it, but I think Simone was more the orchestrator.


Yes, I have come the long way around to the same conclusion. :perplexed:
Buster wrote:I'm far less well-read than many of you on this subject, and have only a general feel for deBeauvoir's relationships. However, what strikes me most is not her relatively cavalier attitude toward sex, nor her occasionally catty or mean remarks about her friends and lovers, but that she thinks that writing about her relationships is of value, or is of interest to readers. I think that convoluted and almost incestuous nature of her relationships is actually not too surprising; she was trying desperately to be neither bored nor boring. I, for one, am very grateful that her narcissism led her to reveal as much as she did.


Not only her bios but her novels, had characters from real life. She and Sartre both seem to have lived their lives and saved letters as though they planned that people would be interested in their every thought once they became famous.
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