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 Post subject: ATLA Question #27 ~ Simone
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 10:46 am 
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We have almost cussed and discussed her to death but here is one more chance to give a final opinion.


What is your opinion of Simone? How would you describe her? Has your opinion of her changed during the discussion?



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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #27 ~ Simone
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 2:57 pm 
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Well, I guess someone has to answer first.

I was disappointed in her. I'd never read anything by her but thought of her as an early feminist, and was disappointed in how subservient she was to the men in her life. Disappointed, too, in how manipulative and catty she was in her relationships, with both men and women.

I'm not going to forget her (I'll need to remember her for future ONBC birthday quizzes! :noodlemantra: ) but I have not been inspired to read her work or more about Sartre and Algren from reading ATLA.


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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #27 ~ Simone
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 3:04 pm 
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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:

What is your opinion of Simone? How would you describe her? Has your opinion of her changed during the discussion? [/color]




I think Simone was a very intelligent woman who was capable of deep and meaningful thought. I am not sure she had much common sense when it came to managing her own life, although in the end I do believe she got most of what she wanted. She was flawed, and perhaps that made her a better example than if she had been perfect.

I think she was capable of deep love but I also think she was afraid to give herself completely to it -- that is, to fully make a commitment, for fear of being swallowed up by it and losing her resolve to be a trail blazer in other parts of her life. Her life long relationship with Sartre was one of great affection and loyalty, but even there she didn't devote herself to him without reservation. I think she probably struggled all her life between wanting to love and being able to love.

I think she rebelled against the religion of her youth, but I don't think in her core she ever completely abandoned it, and I think that is part of where her fear of death came from. She pretty much flaunted every commandment except perhaps the one about murder. I don't think she was sure about an afterlife and punishment or lack of them.

I think she was a talented and skillful writer - a bit wordy at times, maybe even most of the time, but really a great writer. Her words flowed, even in a second language she wrote beautiful prose. Now that I am reading the Mandarins, I see a writer who is skillfully building characters and scenes into a good work of fiction.

I started with a blank slate since I had never heard of the woman before. My opinion has gone up and down through out the reading, tidbits, and discussion. I have to wonder if some of the things she did, like having relationships with female students, were done only to prove she could break the boundaries rather than out of genuine desire. I am still a bit confused and certainly appalled at what seemed to be simple meanness to many of the people in her life who loved and admired her. My opinion is probably more negative than positive in the end because I don't think she was a very good example in her personal life of what she preached publicly.

I think Simone was brave, and she made herself an example of what a woman could achieve if she had desire. I think she failed to realize that not everything traditional had to be destroyed and vilified to effect meaningful change.


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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #27 ~ Simone
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 3:07 pm 
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There are many things to admire in Simone.
She was certainly an intelligent woman. She had no trouble competing in writing, politics, journalism, with Sartre and his cronies. Sartre said in later interviews that she read and understood faster than he did.
She was very athletic and used to walk up to 25 miles in a day a couple days a week. She took lessons and learned to snow ski on her vacations. I don’t even know how many languages she spoke. I know she read in French and English and translated German better then Sartre who lived there for a year. I suspect she could at least get by in others as a result of all her travelling. She stood up for peace, fought injustice, and for human rights, along with Sartre, in many countries of the world.

As much as I try to admire her for her intelligence, world stance, and example as an independent woman, I find her a poor example because she contradicts her positive aspects with her negativity and false front to those close to her. She described herself at times stand- offish with an ego. I think it was more too high an opinion of herself compared to those she pretended to befriend. There is more to being good than being educated and intelligent, and writing about injustice, you have to have a heart.

Simone portrayed herself as a sexual innocent who agreed to Sartre’s pact. However, Sartre in later years tells us, Simone’s first affair was with Rene Maheu, not him, even though Simone purposefully leaves it out of her memoirs in favor of Sartre being her first. She leaves her longest affair with Bost out also. She even says over deciding who she wants, that Rene she wanted for himself and Sartre for his intelligence. She doesn’t mention that Rene being married even entered in her decision. To me, she not only doesn’t respect marriage for herself but also rejects it for others. This seems to be a life long habit that I dislike in her. She never considered that a man was married at all when she had her affairs. Most of her affairs were with married friends of Sartre. I think this is why she so freely offered Algren and later Lanzmann other women during their affairs.

On the plus side she was very smart, well traveled and even though I don’t agree with everything she said and did, she made inroads for women. Some are now beginning to say that she may have been more intelligent then Sartre but she always thought he was a genius. I think she had great spunk, living alone during the war, traveling all over France alone by bicycle, and travelling alone by train to the front to visit Sartre and Bost. (Especially when it was forbidden for wives and girlfriends to do so and she could have been arrested)
I guess the last thing I would say about her is that I think she truly loved Sartre even though many years were not sexual, and Algren was the romantic love of her life. It was just too bad that she could not manage to get all she wanted from either of them.

Here are a couple of Simone Quotes I found interesting.

To catch a husband is an art; to hold him is a job.

The word love has by no means the same sense for both sexes, and this is one cause of the serious misunderstandings that divide them.

This has always been a man's world, and none of the reasons that have been offered in explanation have seemed adequate.



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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #27 ~ Simone
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 3:20 pm 
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I’m going to answer this before reading the other responses.

Top of the list of adjectives I’d use to describe her is selfish. After that, I’d say she was incredibly intelligent, ambitious, driven, devoted to Sartre, too open, ruthless, insecure. I think she was passionate about her political beliefs and cared very much for the common good. But when it came to individuals, she was selfish, manipulative, and insensitive. She was very full of herself. And I think that was an attempt to bury her insecurities. I think she displayed a multitude of inconsistencies (the 2 women, as Algren put it). I think she was immature and irresponsible, at times. At times, I felt like she was a child testing the limits and trying to break boundaries in order to move towards independence. I think she struggled with trying to be independent from her parents, from Sartre, from men & women.

My general opinion has not changed during this discussion. I think a lot of what I felt about her was confirmed by others here. I think it might be more fine-tuned. And maybe I understand her motivations better. The difference is that I am no longer trying to make excuses for her.



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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #27 ~ Simone
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 3:23 pm 
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fansmom wrote:
Well, I guess someone has to answer first.

I was disappointed in her. I'd never read anything by her but thought of her as an early feminist, and was disappointed in how subservient she was to the men in her life. Disappointed, too, in how manipulative and catty she was in her relationships, with both men and women.

Thanks for starting us off, fansmom. I was disappointed in her, as well. I did not know much about her prior to this discussion, but I had a vague notion that she was one the founding mothers of women’s lib and thus I expected to come out of the discussion admiring her.



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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #27 ~ Simone
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 3:47 pm 
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Nebraska, I think that was a well-articulated description of her and very insightful in regards to her struggles in love. I think it was due to her struggle with independence and freedom.

I agree with you, that she never fully let go of her religious beliefs. I think this might have been a private struggle that she did not want to publicize earlier in her life, as I was quite surprised when I heard her in a video interview (when she was about 65 or 70) when she told Lanzmann and the interviewer that she spent many a night crying and sobbing (while with Lanzmann) because she stopped believing in God.

I also think that she was brave, but at other times, very scared. I believe I read somewhere that she had panic attacks.


Gemini, you also give a good description of Simone. And thanks for finding and sharing those quotes. I totally agree with her on the last two. I think the first one is quite telling. Seems she wasn’t up for the job.



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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #27 ~ Simone
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 4:24 pm 
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In a word: complicated.

I truly don't know if the woman knew her own mind. Sometimes she seems almost girlishly innocent, other times downright cynical. She had to possess a boat-load of confidence to find her place so very young in the company of ambitious and intelligent men AND in a field where women were rarely heard from. But her posturing about her image seems a little frantic, her inability to open herself to another so flawed that you get the sense that she was actually deeply insecure. My gut says very confident mentally, almost clueless emotionally -- which fits a kind of nerdy profile. She was in a way (a nerd I mean).

I think Algren's review was very insightful, if bitter. She was in fact disembodied, living vicariously dipping just her fingertips into the rich emotional life that surrounded her, but keeping clear, keeping free of anything that might grab hold of her. Maybe this "freedom" was more a defense than anything.

But then I am just riffing off what limited things I've read, what you guys have written.

In the end, I feel bad for her. Not for her books nor ideas, not her contributions to the women's movement, nor her place on the world stage, in history -- just, kind of sorry for someone whose emotional wings never completely opened. Imagine never realizing that letting go and trusting, and extending yourself totally to another with no holds barred, imagine that never happening -- like missing the point of life in some sense.

(I started this before Liz posted her response to Nebraska: I too agree with your description of her.)



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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #27 ~ Simone
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 8:08 pm 
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nebraska, I wish I had written what you wrote but I wouldn't have done it as well. :cool: I agree with everything you said and the rest of you as well. Job well done. I do think her insecurities played a huge role in her life, in her relationships with others and in her purposefulness of leaving a legacy. She was also intelligent and a wondeful writer, just simply not a very nice person.

My impression of her was neutral, no maybe higher when the discussion began just from what I knew of her role in the beginnings of the feminist movement. I ended up being disappointed in her but then that is usually the case when someone is put up on a pedstal and then has their life examined. They turn out to be flawed and imperfect human beings just like all of us!



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 Post subject: Share Your Book Recommendations
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 8:06 am 
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I was nearly certain that Johnny was reading a book about hockey in Hawaii... I think it was called 'Miracle on Ice'.... Anyone know about that one?
I got this just from looking at the cover of a book in his hand at some point.

As for the De Beauvoir texts I will admit that I should read them but most of her influence and opinions see contrived if you look at how she lived her life. When I heard that they were going to do this film there seemed to be a great buzz about it and I began to read her work and also Nelson's work, but as I read it became very 2 dimensional as though you could see the idealism of it all but not how it would actually work for anyone trying to live that way.

My question was this: Did she consider herself a situational anarchist? Given her relationship with Sartre I had expected that she would really have broken the mould on conventions and yet it seemed to me like she did more of a playing out of the ideas which she heard from great minds around her and then didnt put together the pieces for her own logic base. Not being there in Paris at the time makes a big difference ultimately so I admit to 'no contest' as no experience and yet I was not certain that Vanessa could bring this woman out as the walking contradiction that she seemed to be.

When it comes to recommending a book... Have to offer up 'Truth and Brightness' as a novel that would make a fantastic film for Johnny. He is truly meant to play the part of Monroe Summer if anyone ever was. Maybe when he is done with Lone Ranger then he can read it and have a talk with the author. The author may be one of the most interesting people alive.

So... Hi... glad to meet folks and share some ideas...



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 Post subject: Re: Share Your Book Recommendations
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:51 am 
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eclectica wrote:
I was nearly certain that Johnny was reading a book about hockey in Hawaii... I think it was called 'Miracle on Ice'.... Anyone know about that one?
I got this just from looking at the cover of a book in his hand at some point.

As for the De Beauvoir texts I will admit that I should read them but most of her influence and opinions see contrived if you look at how she lived her life. When I heard that they were going to do this film there seemed to be a great buzz about it and I began to read her work and also Nelson's work, but as I read it became very 2 dimensional as though you could see the idealism of it all but not how it would actually work for anyone trying to live that way.

My question was this: Did she consider herself a situational anarchist? Given her relationship with Sartre I had expected that she would really have broken the mould on conventions and yet it seemed to me like she did more of a playing out of the ideas which she heard from great minds around her and then didnt put together the pieces for her own logic base. Not being there in Paris at the time makes a big difference ultimately so I admit to 'no contest' as no experience and yet I was not certain that Vanessa could bring this woman out as the walking contradiction that she seemed to be.

When it comes to recommending a book... Have to offer up 'Truth and Brightness' as a novel that would make a fantastic film for Johnny. He is truly meant to play the part of Monroe Summer if anyone ever was. Maybe when he is done with Lone Ranger then he can read it and have a talk with the author. The author may be one of the most interesting people alive.

So... Hi... glad to meet folks and share some ideas...


I am not familiar with her writings or her life. But you raise a good point. I have met many people who like to project an image of themselves that is more in line with how they would like to be seen or how they think they should be seen by those in "their crowd" rather than as they really are. Would you consider this a contradiction or a sign of a shallow personality?



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 Post subject: Re: Share Your Book Recommendations
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 12:23 pm 
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Oh joy... people talking with me... discussing even as opposed to talking at me... Ok then... before the computer cuts out and dies ... here's what I think...

Yes hello and I will check into the Simone suite for the depth of my musings on her expressions... and yes I do think that she was not really shallow but dwelled in places which would not ask her to reveal her real challenges and life lessons... Maybe what I am getting at is that she would not rather decimate her environs and emotional moorings at times when she was asking others to believe her most serious texts...

Maybe she was just into pleasantries or something but ultimately I think she lived through harsh times unscathed for very specific reasons... and thus I recommended to myself to give up on the 300 some letters of her passing illusion of thought... Much more to my likings of recommendations are texts that look at the big truth and then parse down to the characters within.


Last edited by eclectica on Sun Nov 14, 2010 1:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #27 ~ Simone
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 7:15 pm 
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eclectica said
Was she a situational anarchist?
Just my opinion but yes, I think so. Her political life, she freely admits surrounded Sartre’s opinion and ideas. She also claimed to agree and wrote to back his ideas. As for her woman’s movement stance, she did this on her own but spent a lot of her time arguing with others in the movement over views. I read that her place in the movement among the younger college women is even less so in France than here. She got into the movement late in her life and many young women found her views dated. Betty Friedan author of Second wave wanted to integrate home and work for women. Simone thought they needed work, she was against motherhood and housework to the end. Could Vanessa do her justice? I would like to see her give it a try.



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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #27 ~ Simone
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:08 pm 
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Yeah, I agree about Vanessa. I have only seen her in two movies but both times I was very impressed. If she was an American actress we would know her work very well. A bit frustrating for us but it probably suits her just fine.



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 Post subject: Re: ATLA Question #27 ~ Simone
PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 2:04 am 
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fireflydances wrote:
Yeah, I agree about Vanessa. I have only seen her in two movies but both times I was very impressed. If she was an American actress we would know her work very well. A bit frustrating for us but it probably suits her just fine.


I have seen a couple of her dubbed films. I also saw her in an interview for Heartbreaker ( I think it was on the zone) where she speaks English. She sounds like she would have no problem playing the part. I am wondering how much sympathy she has for the real Simone and how she would portray her.



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