ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

by Simone de Beauvoir

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ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby Liz » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:45 pm

In this question I want to further explore the "contingent" relationships that Sartre and Simone had (i.e. with Nathalie, Bianca and Olga). What was going on there? I've been struggling with how to word this question because I don't really want to get too much into the relationship between Simone and Sartre just yet or that between Simone and Algren. But I do want to talk about where they were coming from when they had these various affairs (especially the ones they shared) and why they chose the particular people that they did. Seems that there was more going on here than just simple attraction.
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby gemini » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:25 pm

I am not exactly sure where you’re going with this but I’ll give it a try. I take it you are only addressing the females here. I was going to say many helped in advancing their careers but that was mainly the men, unless you call acting in their plays helpful. Olga (Simone’s student) who was first hired along with Bost (Sartre’s student) to help Sartre through his depression and hallucination after taking mescaline. We all know how that turned out, Sartre fell in love with Olga and she with Bost. :hypnotic:
The other two, Bianca and Nathalie, also students, seemed to be available to Simone during the war when all the men were away. She used them as a tool to keep Sartre interested in her letters and later when he returned she helped him seduce them. Some accuse her of being nothing but his procurer but I think she insisted the women were more loyal to her and if they started wanting equal time with Sartre they found themselves out as Bianca did. :bigwink:
Olga only had an affair with Simone, not Sartre; Nathalie slept with him but preferred Simone and later lived with boyfriends. Wanda, Simone did not like because she only had a long time affair with Sartre. :-)
It seemed obvious that as time went on, Simone and Sartre competed for the most lovers, with these women being where their tastes overlapped. Not sure it's pertinent here but Simone never seemed to be interested in any of the adult women that Sartre had affairs with. She only slept with her students who had been attracted to her in some way.
I am still not sure if I am on the same wavelength as you are in the question. :-/
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby Liz » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:42 pm

Gemini, I'm not sure where I'm going with it either. :lol:

I guess I'm trying to figure them out.....what each of their motives were....if they had them per se. It was something I read (and I wish I could remember where that was--maybe I'll find it this weekend) that made me wonder if there was more to this little dance they played than meets the eye.

It could be more than just the women. For example, why would Simone pick Bost to have an affair with, when he was the boyfriend of her good friend, Olga? Another example: Simone had an affair with Claude Lanzmann. Sartre had an affair with Evelyn Rey, Lanzmann's sister. (I can't remember which came first.)
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby gemini » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:28 pm

Simone's came first which seems to be a set pattern. There is no doubt they were competing as they did in their intellectual life. I still can’t understand how Sartre got all those young beautiful women. There’s charisma and then there's charisma. :biggrin: As for Simone picking Bost when he was Olga’s, just my two cents worth, but I think she was paying back Olga for Sartre falling in love with her. Her character killed Olga's character in "She Came to Stay". :bigwink:
She also started an affair with Pierre Gille while he was having one with her friend the older lady, Madame Morel. She also never cared if her lovers were married. One of my problems with Simone. :headache:

The only ulterior motive I can see for Simone and Sartre is help in their career field or for the lovers they were helped financially. All of Simone’s female lovers were her students but in later years they did help advance their careers by introducing them to people. Nathalie Sorokine introduced them to Hemingway’s brother and Giovanni the painter. Olga and Wanda were both actresses and acted in many of their plays but it was Simone Jollivet (Toulouse), Sarter's first love, that introduced them to Dullin and connected them to the Stage world, which was very profitable for them.

As for the men, friends and lovers both seemed to help them get ahead in their careers. Simone slept with most of Sartre’s friends from his University days. Pierre Gille (Pagiez) was a literature major and a writer, Rene Maheu taught in Morocco, and ended as director of UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization). Sartre’s friend Raymond Aron not only got Sartre a cushy job as meteorologist in the service but also set up his year of school in Berlin and later became DeGaulle’s Undersecretary of state. Paul Nizan was a famous writer long before Sartre and tried to help him get published. Bost, also one of Sartre’s philosophy students, had left leaning political ideas like they did. He had several jobs, including war correspondent for Camus.
bourgeois much? :lol:

Just one more point I stumbled on contingent lovers vs. essential. Sartre thought Simone broke their pact when during the war she wrote him and said Bost was no longer contingent but essential to her and she intended to keep him in her life. Sartre seems to have decided to live with it though, but in my opinion their relationship was never quite the same. :whistle:
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby fireflydances » Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:00 pm

Well my dears, you are way over my head now. Nothing to add that would be worth saying. However all of this DID motivate me (wrong verb: persuade, pique, arouse, whet the appetite perhaps) to investigate the matter further. Went and bought me a "Tete A Tete" (don't tell me it's the wrong one, the deed is done) as I am tired of looking at this extremely complex and seemingly inexhaustible subject with a tiny spy glass. The book will take a week to arrive. Foolish me, I should have thought of this earlier (but the vain hope was that I could merely dip a toe, not fall into the matter). I should have known better.

Ask me a question I can actually provide a worthy response to.
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby fansmom » Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:41 pm

fireflydances wrote:Ask me a question I can actually provide a worthy response to.
:harhar:

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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby gemini » Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:03 am

fireflydances wrote:Well my dears, you are way over my head now. Nothing to add that would be worth saying. However all of this DID motivate me (wrong verb: persuade, pique, arouse, whet the appetite perhaps) to investigate the matter further. Went and bought me a "Tete A Tete" (don't tell me it's the wrong one, the deed is done) as I am tired of looking at this extremely complex and seemingly inexhaustible subject with a tiny spy glass. The book will take a week to arrive. Foolish me, I should have thought of this earlier (but the vain hope was that I could merely dip a toe, not fall into the matter). I should have known better.
Ask me a question I can actually provide a worthy response to.


There are a couple books more revealing than “teta ta tete” but I must admit I really enjoyed reading that one. I just read “ The remaking of a 20th Century Legend” which is a very short read but I found a couple more things I did not find in ”tete ta tete” but it does not really get into the women much. The book I found the most revealing about Simone was her own “Letters to Sartre”. It is great to check the dates between the letters in each book to see what she was saying at the same time to different people. Liz gave a preview of that in some of the earlier tidbits.
I did enjoy “A disgraceful Affair" because it is nice to see the same story from another viewpoint to see how much of what Simone says is nonsense. I am reading Sartre's letters now to see how his compare to what Simone said about him. Some interviewers say her books make her the jealous women and him the womanizer but the more I read the less I see that. Simones bios leave out a lot about her. One of the things I find fascinating reading about them both is how many famous people they met in their lifetime.
You cant go wrong reading "Tete te Tete", because it gives the most information about all the players in their so called family.
As for worrying about a worthy response. Even armed with more facts, in the end we are just voicing an opinion and its hard not to have one about these people. :-)
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby Liz » Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:39 am

Gemini, you've said it well. Even with all that I have read, I still wonder about her.

Firefly, as gemini said, I posted a lot of letters to Sartre as "pre-bits" that give a lot of detail about her time in the US. There is also a lot of info in the tidbits on the various affairs. However, they are lacking (due to time constraints and matters of censorship). I did not post the Letters to Sartre regarding Bianca Bienenfeld, for example.

I think Tete-a-Tete is a good one to read because it covers the key aspects of "A Disgraceful Affair," and more. Because there is so much more in this book than I have ever read anywhere else I tend to wonder if it is embellished. While reading it I have periodically asked myself, "how the heck did she know that?"

Speaking of Tete-a-Tete, I'm off now to scan it for the reason that made me ask this question in the first place.......
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby nebraska » Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:42 am

Well, I am with Firefly on this one! I am astounded at the amount of reading gemini and Liz have done and the amount of complicated knowledge that has been amassed about this group of people. :-O However, I come to a point where I have to ask myself if I would care enough to go so deep. I am doing a little "outside reading," starting with the Man With the Golden Arm, but I am not going to immerse myself in the lives of these people quite so completely as some of you are doing.

Although Simone and Sartre were famous philosophers, well educated writers, political activists, etc. I am not sure their love lives are anything more than the perverted behavior of s*x addicts. Some of this was nothing more than sick behavior, using other people and their emotions for their own entertainment. I am not sure either of them really cared how much damage they did to the hearts and lives of their various transient lovers. It is possible there is nothing to "figure out" or understand or analyze. Maybe they were just a couple of sick nut cases.

Going away quietly now.......

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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby fireflydances » Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:17 pm

Well glad that Tete-a-Tete is not an incorrect choice. I went down to my local library today, fiend that I am for instant literary satisfaction when I want it. Only to learn, of course, that there are no biographies of Satre or de Beauvoir to be had -- and yet 12 (yes dear friends twelve) books on the Lady Diana. I will hold my tongue.
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby Liz » Sat Oct 23, 2010 2:49 pm

Apparently 2.5 billion worldwide watched Di’s funeral on the TV (as opposed to the 5,000 who mourned, in person, de Beauvoir’s death). I think Lady Di was more internationally loved than Simone de Beauvoir. I didn’t realize (until this morning) that she was the President of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children from 1989 until her death. And don't forget that she's related to John Wilmot. :biggrin:

Nebraska, no worries. I think you may have opened my eyes as to why I have dug so deep, why I am trying to figure this woman out. I really WANT to like her and admire her. I don't want to think badly of her. So I am looking for excuses for her behavior or just trying to find out what made her tick.
:blush:
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby fireflydances » Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:26 pm

Liz said
she was the President of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children from 1989 until her death. And don't forget that she's related to John Wilmot
-- Ah, didn't know that. Firm kick to lower posterior. Always politically incorrect, I'll wedge myself back in my lower bookcase and keep my slurs to myself in the future. :-O

On to the subject at hand...Liz also said
why I am trying to figure this woman out. I really WANT to like her and admire her. I don't want to think badly of her. So I am looking for excuses for her behavior or just trying to find out what made her tick


I figure that Simone was not black and white, like none of us are, just hundreds of shades of gray, and I am fascinated by her complexity, as one might be fascinated by a character in a good book, and by the play of characters around her. I think I like that she has left behind such a hodge podge mess of dirt and shine -- it seems a deliberate choice, full of truth, artifice, concoctions of the imagination and those unconscious revelatory things you do when you think you are saying 'this' about youself while it is obvious you are saying 'that'.

Could it be that if anyone is thinking of doing a movie around this couple, that it's this myriad of possible answers that draws them also?
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby Liz » Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:03 pm

fireflydances wrote:I figure that Simone was not black and white, like none of us are, just hundreds of shades of gray, and I am fascinated by her complexity, as one might be fascinated by a character in a good book, and by the play of characters around her. I think I like that she has left behind such a hodge podge mess of dirt and shine -- it seems a deliberate choice, full of truth, artifice, concoctions of the imagination and those unconscious revelatory things you do when you think you are saying 'this' about youself while it is obvious you are saying 'that'.

Could it be that if anyone is thinking of doing a movie around this couple, that it's this myriad of possible answers that draws them also?

Yes, he :bigwink: appears to be drawn to ambivalence in characters. And I think I am to. (even more so when they are real people)
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby gemini » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:04 pm

Liz said
I think Tete-a-Tete is a good one to read because it covers the key aspects of "A Disgraceful Affair," and more. Because there is so much more in this book than I have ever read anywhere else I tend to wonder if it is embellished. While reading it I have periodically asked myself, "how the heck did she know that?"
There are a couple books on amazon about them that the reviews say are based more on opinion than fact but I have not seen that said about Tete a Tete. Hazel Rowley admits that it is not so much about their famous lives but their personal lives.

The Remaking of a 20th Century Legend” pub 1994 has two authors. It not only agrees with facts about Simone’s affairs but also adds a bit (like Rene Mahue and Perre Gille.) It goes more into Simone and existentialism and not so much into her affairs, barely mentions the women except a comment here and there where they fit into another subject. The middle is a bit deep into philosophy. It does mention Simone’s rebellion from her parents; with her first apartment, Simone, her sister, and GeGe bar hopping, where Simone developed her taste for alcohol and picked up strangers in bad parts of Paris. She called it her reckless stage just before she met Sartre. He was going through a similar tough guy stage with his friends at the time.

I just received Dierdre Bair's bio of Simone but it seems to follow Simone's books as far as only revealing what Simone wanted to about her life. She tries to make Simone too much of a prude during the war which is a stretch.

Nebraska makes a point on how deep do you really want to read about these people. I was first fascinated by their way out lives but then got a little hung up in how they justified their philosophy of existentialism to the way they lived. This got me into Sartre and what a famous person he was worldwide in his own right. From there you can’t read about them without learning more.

Nebraska says
It is possible there is nothing to "figure out" or understand or analyze. Maybe they were just a couple of sick nut cases. Exactly! That’s what they seemed so why did most of the world consider them intellectual world thinkers, philosophers who had theories out there competing with Freud, and the heavy weights, and anti war liberation writers. Simone is thought to be a groundbreaker in the woman’s movement and they both are thought of as influential people of the world.
This could be because their good points were known throughout their lives and the really embarrassing parts not until after their deaths and some people were very shocked.

Fireflydances Your library sound like mine. Hopeless! As for Johnny and Vans film it will likely only cover ATLA with Simone and Algren but with Johnny he will likely throw in a few other points about their lives. There have already been films made about Simone and Sartre but I would love to see one made now where they are not so worried about appearances.
Last edited by gemini on Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: ATLA Question #12 - The Early Contingent Affairs

Unread postby fireflydances » Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:00 pm

Gemini said:
This could be because their good points were known throughout their lives and the really embarrassing parts not until after their deaths and some people were very shocked.


Geez though we use a tough yardstick on people don't we? I am of the opinion that most of us have long dangily roots of the bizarre threaded through us. Luckily most of us don't write about our dark spots, nor do we have others watching us with such great care. 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.

The important thing here -- she makes for an interesting conversation.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies


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