Simone de Beauvoir Long Fiction Analysis
Simone de Beauvoir’s novels are grounded in her training as a philosopher and in her sociological and feminist concerns. She Came to Stay, The Blood of Others, All Men Are Mortal, and The Mandarins all revolve around the questions of freedom and responsibility and try to define the proper relationship between the individual and society. Her characters search for authenticity as they attempt to shape the world around them. Their education is sentimental as well as intellectual and political. While most of her heroes accommodate themselves successfully to reality, the same may not be said of her heroines. In the later novels, The Mandarins and Les Belles Images, her female characters, who are successful by worldly standards, suffer a series of psychological crises. As they undertake what the feminist critic Carol Christ has called spiritual quests, they often face suicide and madness. The existentialist enterprise of engagement, or commitment with a view of defining the self through action, seems more possible for the men in her novels than for the women. Jean Leighton has observed the absence of positive heroines in de Beauvoir’s work: Woman seems condemned to passivity while man’s fate is one of transcendence. Arguments from The Second Sex and from de Beauvoir’s philosophical essays echo in the novels. The tension between the author’s philosophical ideas and their potential realization...
(The entire section is 3043 words.)
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