ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

by Simone de Beauvoir

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Re: ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

Unread postby gemini » Tue Nov 02, 2010 6:31 pm

Thanks for the quotes. I thought Sartres quote from Nausea very interesting. Yes, I was wondering about his existentialism and his life style. I still am. :lol:
Fireflydances said
I actually believe that Simone's "lifestyle" however, was very much existential. I know they tried to live by it but even they sometimes admitted it didn’t always work for them. Sartre seems more apt to admit his defeats and continue but Simone wanted to be perfect.

Very interesting links about French differences from Americans, fireflydances.
I think there is much to be said for those points concerning ATLA. I just learned that Sartre first saw an open marriage in his friend Paul Nizan's marriage and saw that they got along well. When Simone refused his proposal he came up with the pact. It may have been as a way of keeping her because he was smitten. He did ask her to marry once more when she burst into tears when they were separated at different teaching positions. By then, I think she was aware of how their single life style was and knew that their marriage would be an open relationship as well so why give up her independence. I can almost understand her point at that stage. I do believe that part of it was her wanting to have affairs as well. Sartre and Simone called their "somewhat marriage" morganatic. I find that very telling.

The more I read about the French, the more I think they were not as unusual a couple as I thought. Simone seems to have had an adjustment because she was raised very strict by her parents as to what was proper in society. Her parents had an old fashion French marriage; her mother set at home taking her frustration out on her daughters while her husband spent what little money they had on mistresses.
I am now wondering about my shock of Simone as whether it was more cultural or sexist. :perplexed:
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Re: ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:01 pm

Had to google it - morganatic:


This definition seems to imply unequal social status. Is that where you were going with it gemini? I know wiki isn't always the best source so you may have had a different idea.

I think Simone was a shock for the time sexually and culturally, if only because it was so public. They were a famous couple who garnered a lot of interesting press. I suspect the public then was not so unlike the public of now, with an appetite for salaciousness. While relationships of this kind seem to be more common in France, I'm not sure they were so widely publicized?
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Re: ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

Unread postby fansmom » Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:16 pm

Two quick thoughts about the French in general:

I read a lot about France and traditional French culture before I visited there in 2008, and althought I think it's inexact to refer to any society as monolithic, I think in general they perceive themselves as very different from they call "Anglo-Saxons"--the British and Americans. The cultures may look superficially similar, but they are not. Plus I think Simone prided herself simultaneously on being very French and very different from the average Frenchwoman.

An example that relates to the video fireflydances posted: we have quite a few French restaurants as clients, and at least three times in the last few years, a co-worker has come to me, mystified, and said, "I think Gerard/Veronique/Stephane was flirting with me on the phone." These are restaurateurs who have lived here for decades, but still relate in the workplace differently from Americans. (I pointed out to a disappointed 25-year-old coworker that Veronique probably hadn't put perfume on her tax return to be alluring to him, because she's 81 and literally older than his grandmother. She probably just dabs a bit on her wrists every day and it rubbed off on what she mailed to him.)

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Re: ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

Unread postby Liz » Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:57 pm

Fansmom, now that is just too funny. :lol:

DITHOT, thanks for the giving us the definition of morganatic. I was just about to look it up, when I noticed you already had. I’ve seen that at least 3 times during this discussion and was usually too busy to look it up....and then I'd forget. But I find it quite “telling” just as Gemini. Is Simone saying that she was unequal to Sartre in social status….as in less than? Or was he unequal to her?

Not in all the reading I have done did I get that impression at all. So I’m at a loss.
:perplexed:
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Re: ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:18 pm

Or did they use the term to imply a 'secret marriage' (see the section of the article that relates to France).

So then Satre's friend had an open marriage and that is how he and Simone came to consider it? Or am I misunderstanding what Gemini said here:
I just learned that Sartre first saw an open marriage in his friend Paul Nizan's marriage and saw that they got along well.


I wish I knew more about the details of Satre and Simone's early relationship.
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Re: ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

Unread postby gemini » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:22 pm

DITHOT said
Had to google it - morganatic:
This definition seems to imply unequal social status. Is that where you were going with it gemini?

Yes Exactly.
Liz said
But I find it quite “telling” just as Gemini. Is Simone saying that she was unequal to Sartre in social status….as in less than? Or was he unequal to her?
The point was that she was not equal to him because she had no dowry. (If they ever got truly married). I would still think of it insulting as real morganatic marriage meant the wife or children would not inherit title or property. Royalty used it to keep wife and children from ineligible families any claim to succession.

I think Simone thought Sartre was superior in intelligence. She said when he went to school in Berlin, the reason she didn’t go too was because she was only a teacher and he was a philosopher. He was at the time teaching philosophy in LeHarve while she was teaching it in Marseilles. To her last interview she argued his superiority in intelligence.
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Re: ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

Unread postby gemini » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:34 pm

fireflydances wrote:Or did they use the term to imply a 'secret marriage' (see the section of the article that relates to France).

So then Satre's friend had an open marriage and that is how he and Simone came to consider it? Or am I misunderstanding what Gemini said here:
I just learned that Sartre first saw an open marriage in his friend Paul Nizan's marriage and saw that they got along well.


I wish I knew more about the details of Satre and Simone's early relationship.

Yes, I just recently read that his friend Paul Nizan was married while they were in school as was Rene Mahue. Sartre was the only single man in their group. I knew about their marriages from previous books but just learned about Nizan's being open and where Sartre first heard of and saw an open marriage in actuality so to speak. He liked the idea for his pact. After their pact the Nizan's and Sartre and Simone were freinds but SImone was always intimited by Nizan and didn't really become friendly with his wife. She thought of her as a mere housewife.
Just in case your interested, Mahue's marriage was not open. He supposedly loved his wife but didn't tell her about SImone.

As for the morganatic marriage, they did not mean secret. They took pride in not actually being married, as it was a bourgeois institution. The morganatic was a joke between them about their status.
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Re: ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:41 pm

An interesting little bit about "open marriage" in the 1920's in Europe:
In the 1910s and '20s, it was fashionable in certain circles to carry on with this type of romantic experiment. Virginia Woolf's sister, Vanessa Bell, a ravishing, statuesque painter who liked to wear gypsyish head scarves, lived on an English country estate with her lover, Duncan Grant, his gay lover, and her children, and her husband sometimes popped by for a week or two. She believed it was more important to live fully than to be conventionally comfortable or secure. One of Bell's frequent guests and ex-flames, the art critic Roger Fry, called her unorthodox household "a triumph of reasonableness over the conventions."


This out of a longer 2009 Harper's Bazaar article about Tilda Swinton the actress and her open marriage, here is the

Finally, interesting opinion piece about the Satre-de Beauvoir relationship. Writer is Lisa Appignanesi who is the author of a biographical portrait on de Beavour published in the UK in 2009.



(Gemini: took the mention of 'secret marriage' out of the Wiki article you referenced.)

And oh I SHOULD be working on my list for the contest, but my eyes are crossing from all the snooping to match the clue to the book. I am determined to submit a complete list even if a third of it is completely wrong.
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Re: ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

Unread postby gemini » Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:08 am

fireflydances wrote:An interesting little bit about "open marriage" in the 1920's in Europe:
In the 1910s and '20s, it was fashionable in certain circles to carry on with this type of romantic experiment. Virginia Woolf's sister, Vanessa Bell, a ravishing, statuesque painter who liked to wear gypsyish head scarves, lived on an English country estate with her lover, Duncan Grant, his gay lover, and her children, and her husband sometimes popped by for a week or two. She believed it was more important to live fully than to be conventionally comfortable or secure. One of Bell's frequent guests and ex-flames, the art critic Roger Fry, called her unorthodox household "a triumph of reasonableness over the conventions."


This out of a longer 2009 Harper's Bazaar article about Tilda Swinton the actress and her open marriage, here is the

Finally, interesting opinion piece about the Satre-de Beauvoir relationship. Writer is Lisa Appignanesi who is the author of a biographical portrait on de Beavour published in the UK in 2009.



(Gemini: took the mention of 'secret marriage' out of the Wiki article you referenced.)

And oh I SHOULD be working on my list for the contest, but my eyes are crossing from all the snooping to match the clue to the book. I am determined to submit a complete list even if a third of it is completely wrong.


Very interesting articles fireflydances.
It seems that open marriages are not uncommon at all. I didn’t know about Tilda Swinton. :-)
I read the article you linked about Sartre and Simone awhile back before I kept reading about them. As I’ve said, I felt the same as that author, that Sartre was the philanderer, until I kept reading. Here is an excerpt from the article.
Yet in this lifelong relationship of supposed equals, he, it turned out, was far more equal than she was. It was he who engaged in countless affairs, to which she responded on only a few occasions with longer-lasting passions of her own. Between the lines of her fiction and what are in effect six volumes of autobiography, it is also evident that De Beauvoir suffered deeply from jealousy.
I started out believing this especially since I read Simone's bios first which lend to this opinion. I, at first, thought Sartre an ass and poor Simone put up with him.
Since I’ve read so many conflicting books on the two, I started a timeline and just for giggles a list of their lovers. Believe me they are running about equal in number and I have a feeling Simone was not as anxious to mention all of hers and Sartre probably mentioned all of his. :biglaugh:
Other than that aspect, I think that’s a great article.
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Re: ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

Unread postby Liz » Wed Nov 03, 2010 1:00 am

And tonight, of all nights, I find that quite amusing. :biggrin: :bigwink:
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Re: ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

Unread postby nebraska » Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:26 am

All this talk about equality makes me wonder if this had anything to do with Simone's comment to Algren that he was not her equal.

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Re: ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

Unread postby Liz » Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:29 pm

nebraska wrote:All this talk about equality makes me wonder if this had anything to do with Simone's comment to Algren that he was not her equal.

In terms of her being less equal because she didn't have a dowry?

I'm wondering now if she lived her life always trying to prove that she was equal to men.
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Re: ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:41 pm

All good questions and very thought provoking. What keeps naggimg at me is Simone's book, The Second Sex, where she wrote about women having a secondary status in society and basically launched the women's movement. At the same time she feels inferior and acts inferior to Sartre but at the same time competes with him and provides him with other women. And again at the same time she has the affair with Algren and seems to initmate that she is his equal or even his superior. Was she simply trying to make herself feel equal to Sartre, boost her own ego? I have a hard time reconciling her actions with her writings. :mort3:
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Re: ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

Unread postby nebraska » Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:00 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:All good questions and very thought provoking. What keeps naggimg at me is Simone's book, The Second Sex, where she wrote about women having a secondary status in society and basically launched the women's movement. At the same time she feels inferior and acts inferior to Sartre but at the same time competes with him and provides him with other women. And again at the same time she has the affair with Algren and seems to initmate that she is his equal or even his superior. Was she simply trying to make herself feel equal to Sartre, boost her own ego? I have a hard time reconciling her actions with her writings. :mort3:


She was complicated! or perhaps, or perhaps she really was just confused. I have not read the Second Sex, but I have been exposed to enough of the feminist movement in my lifetime to wonder at her personal behavior when it came to her relationship with Sartre, and even Algren. In many ways she relied on the old fashioned feminine wiles while she proclaimed all that was not worthy of a woman. :banghead:

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Re: ATLA Question #22 - Her Letters

Unread postby fireflydances » Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:34 pm

Nebraska said:
She was complicated! or perhaps, or perhaps she really was just confused
.

Yeah, I agree. Just because she was extremely well-read, articulate, a world class writer with thought-provoking things to say doesn't mean she wasn't also insecure, contradictory, and wrong as often as any of us are. She was fortunate, in my opinion, to be able to stand on the world stage. But, being on the stage is a double edged deal isn't it? All those ideas rambling this way and that, all the shallow stuff, and the vain, greedy and plain hurtful stuff PRESERVED for who knows, the next 300 years ? (Currency is not eternal.)

(It's funny lately when I write about her, or read all of our comments, I imagine her sitting in a wing arm chair, long white gray hair curled on her head, slight smile on her lips, leaning forward and peering first and one of us, then another. Wordless. Perhaps I am dreaming of her heaven?)
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