During the last six years of her life, the philosopher, feminist, novelist and author of the landmark work, The Second Sex, gave Deirdre Bair her unqualified co-operation and time. In interviews she provided new insights and material that are central to understanding her life and work.
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Deirdre Bair was a literary journalist before taking an MA and PhD at Colombia University. Since then, she has been a university professor and has lectured and written extensively on contemporary British and French literature.From Publishers Weekly:
This impressively researched biography by the author of Samuel Beckett is the most detailed account to date of the life and work of de Beauvoir (1908-1986). Based on many interviews, and discussing each of Beauvoir's works within the chronology of her life, Bair's magnum opus combines literary biography, intellectual and oral history and feminist theory, yet centers on de Beauvoir's extraordinary long relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre. Bair argues persuasively that de Beauvoir was affectionate, generous and witty, but also quirky, opinionated, witheringly honest and generally humorless. Awkard and ill-kempt, a woman who drank and cried to excess, she seemed unaware of her striking physical presence; she was nearly 40, contends the author, before she experienced an orgasm. Although never bound by the traditional constraints of marriage or family, she guarded Sartre jealously. Bair adds much to our knowledge of every aspect of de Beauvoir's life--her love affairs with Nelson Algren and Claude Lanzmann, her attitudes toward Camus, Giacometti, Koestler, Merleau-Ponty and many others--but, like Bair's own description of de Beauvoir's book on Sartre, the biography is sometimes "detailed to the point of inducing fatigue and boredom."
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