The pursuit of freedom

  Simone de Beauvoir was definitely one of the most prominent women in French culture of the 20th century. She passed away on April 14, 1986, leaving behind a valuable cultural heritage. She is known not only as a pioneer of feminism and a social activist for her “Second Sex” and her involvement in women’s liberation and political movements; she is also known for her large-scale memoirs and autobiographical and existential literature. She is classified as the most outstanding contemporary French writer for her creation; and the free and open contractual love method she co-created with the existentialist master Sartre, all of which have had a great impact on the world. Although, as Mr. Liu Mingjiu said, her works expressing the philosophy of existentialism “cannot be compared with the philosophical works of Sartre and Camus”, her creation and social practice testify that existentialism in France from the rise to the final split historical process. Therefore, its value lies not only in her uniqueness as “an outstanding professional woman in a male-centered modern society”, but also in her writings and practices, which are also outstanding achievements reflecting human “existence” in the era of existentialism.
  Pioneer of feminism
  Although both French presidents have affirmed that Beauvoir is the most outstanding writer in the history of French literature, her most famous work is the theoretical book “The Second Sex” that is regarded as the “Bible” by Western women. The book explores the nature of women’s problems from the perspectives of physiology, psychology, sociology, and philosophy. From the evolution of women’s social status in the West, the social root of women’s becoming the second sex after men has been excavated. In the reality of the oppression of women by society, religion, law and traditional customs, the astonishing famous saying “Women are not born, she is made”, and then analyze the feasibility of women’s liberation, and imagine how to obtain independent personal dignity and substantial freedom, thereby reassessing traditional views of love, morality, and values, and establishing a new value system: “Only through work, through economic and political activities, can women truly show their Power in the relationship of others”. “The Second Sex” has attracted attention since its publication in the section “Women and Myths” in 1948, when a reporter from the Paris Match newspaper called Beauvoir “the first woman philosopher in the history of men”. However, because it was extremely subversive to traditional morality, the publication was soon banned until it was translated into English and published in the United States in 1953, which once again caused a worldwide sensation. Beauvoir was regarded as a pioneer by American feminists.
  Since the publication of The Second Sex, Beauvoir not only paid attention to women’s issues consciously, but also integrated his personal career into the whole women’s liberation cause and the public’s social life. In the 1940s, when the spiritual phenomenon of existentialism emerged in France, Beauvoir’s thinking also changed, and works with existentialism appeared in his creation, and his actions supported Sartre’s founding to reflect existentialism. “Modern” magazine. She is more and more aware of the writer’s sense of responsibility and involvement in thinking, and actively runs for the cause of women’s liberation. She recognized that women’s liberation had to be achieved through actual struggle, even violent revolution, for women’s rights. In the 1970s, she personally participated in the feminist movement in Paris and became the main leader of its association. Although these early feminist movements were only practical struggles for women’s rights to contraception, liberalization of abortion, etc., even the relatively open-minded French society was a huge initiative, allowing people to truly integrate women’s society in today’s society. Questions of situation, social status and their fate have been brought up on the agenda for practical solutions. When the 25th anniversary of the publication of “Second Sex” in 1974, France carried out a series of commemorative activities, and many countries also responded. The cause of women’s liberation for which Beauvoir fought for his whole life was finally recognized and supported by France and even the world. .
  In addition to running for women’s liberation, she also became a left-wing person who supported the socialist camp. The bourgeoisie has always been regarded by her as an “enemy”, and now she is more sympathetic to the working class, supports the student movement in Paris, and participates in justice activities such as defending press freedom, so her apartment was also bombed by a secret organization, but still can interrupt their social activities. During this period, she and her lifelong partner Sartre visited nearly ten countries including China, the Soviet Union, and Cuba. The newly established New China welcomed them on the eve of the National Day in 1955. Beauvoir affirmed the new atmosphere of the new socialist China. After returning to China, he wrote a book “The Long March” about China, which enabled Westerners to have a better understanding of China’s politics, military, economy and culture. And on socialism and national issues, Beauvoir’s independent thought is best demonstrated in France’s attitude towards the war in Algeria and Soviet socialism. She did not oppose the French suppression of Algeria’s liberation struggle because she was her own country, nor did she oppose Stalin’s autocracy because of her support for socialism. Among the French intellectuals at that time, especially as female intellectuals, it can better reflect its pioneering ability beyond the times. She practices Sartre’s philosophy of intervening in society, and is also obsessed with her constant pursuit of her own “existence” as a woman.
  The Autobiographer of Self-Analysis
  Beauvoir ‘s literary achievements are generally classified within the scope of existential literature, but in a position subordinate to Sartre and Camus. It is true that she does not have more systematic existentialist works than Sartre and Camus, but her large-scale memoirs and novels such as “The Woman” and “The Merry of Honor” are not only the description of her self-life and value, but also the richness of the time. The real record of social reality reflects the thought of existential literature to a certain extent, which can be said to have various values ​​and meanings.
  France is a country with more developed autobiographical works, but it is rare for a writer like Beauvoir to write several memoirs in 20th century French literature, and he is indeed “one of the biggest memoirists”. Her main memoirs are 4: “Memories of a Well-behaved Girl” (1958), “Young and Strong” (1960), “Inevitable” (1963), “In the End” (1972). The memoir records her life experience from a girl to a dying old woman, and records her life, emotions and career in various periods in great detail and truth, and also records the prevailing period of existential literature represented by Sartre in France. Major events, showing the broad social picture at that time, have “Saint-Simon-style historical and social value”. Because of Beauvoir’s extensive contacts, she recorded her contacts and thoughts with the greatest intellectuals in France and even the world in the 20th century, which has a very special value for the development history of human thought, and is a rare study on French existentialism. valuable information.
  Beauvoir’s main literary works are also highly autobiographical and existentialist works. The first novel “The Female Guest” is an artistic representation of his emotional experience with Sartre and a “trio” of female students, encouraged by Sartre’s “Why not write about yourself”. Through the love story of one man and two women, the work delicately and vividly depicts the psychological and emotional evolution of the two heroines in the special love relationship, and explores the special interpersonal relationship of the “Trio”. The creation of this novel is not only the healing and release of her personal emotional scars, but also her successful attempt to explore the existential philosophical proposition of human nature’s pursuit of freedom in a literary way.
  Beauvoir’s achievements in novel creation are undoubtedly not to be ignored. Her “thirst for literary success” made her give up her proper family life. Her success is also a woman who pursues independence and self-sufficiency. , the process of realizing self-worth.
  The creator of the “love myth”
  Speaking of Beauvoir, it is impossible not to mention her love relationship with Sartre. People also saw them as “an indivisible spiritual entity,” as they themselves claimed. Shortly after they met, a contractual life partnership was proposed and conceived by Sartre. It was initially for a two-year period, with no family relationship in the form of marriage, but “to be spent together in the most intimate way possible”. This relationship has been continued, and the affection between them is maintained only by its own strength and duration, rejecting any other form of formalizing and legalizing it. At the same time, both parties maintain their own independence and freedom in their emotional lives. They can find other lovers, and they do not deceive or hide from each other, and tell each other about the “accidental love” they have experienced, but their “absolute love” remain unaffected by it. This was very anti-traditional at the time, especially as a woman, Beauvoir recorded her own emotions and even lust in her memoirs, which was indeed shocking to the world. Even in France, where relations between men and women were relatively free and open at the time, this public recognition was detrimental to its image. Because of this, Beauvoir’s boldness and courage in pursuing his true self is truly admirable.
  Therefore, this special emotional relationship that is free and transparent without the bondage of marriage is regarded as a “love myth” by people, and they become a free couple. However, it is not without pain for Beauvoir to have such a couple, and the “myth of love” cannot escape the common feelings of the world. There must be a lot of bitterness and helplessness behind the free couple who is regarded as a model. What is truly mythical is that they became loyal companions in literature and the whole career, and the special emotional and spiritual relationship formed by them was long and firm, and it lasted half a century from their realization to their death. In this sense, they are unique to each other.
  In recent years, there have been some biographies and theories that completely broke the “love myth” of Sartre and Beauvoir, especially the “Memories of a Seduced Girl” published in France by Bianca Ramblas in 1993, which caused a great deal of attention. Big sensation. Bianca stated that she was the victim of the greedy and deformed lust of Sartre and Beauvoir, who became Sartre’s pimp. And when these works were translated, even some well-known Chinese scholars have greatly reduced their admiration for them. It seems that there are too many sacrifices and ugliness hidden under the halo of mythology. In any case, their continuous relationship is not easy to come by, and maintaining this contract is especially hard for Beauvoir. She manages her relationship with Sartre as a business. This emotional success was both a personal satisfaction and a pillar of her lifelong pursuit of freedom.
  Twenty years later, Beauvoir has been in China from her earliest influence on feminist literature in the 1980s to her major works being translated at the end of the last century. Her works and ideas have attracted the attention of critics. . But on the whole, Beauvoir and Sartre jointly created a miracle in the cultural history of the 20th century, while Beauvoir was more regarded as Sartre’s “follower” in thought and emotion. No matter how Sartre’s ideas are embodied in her writings and practices, she makes good use of her wit and efforts as a woman in her pursuit of an independent life, and the idea of ​​”free choice” is best exemplified in her , she is undoubtedly a very special and valuable individual in the development history of existentialism. Her independent value will always exist, and she will definitely be recognized by people to reach the position that should belong to her.

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