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Simone de Beauvoir

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Simone de Beauvoir - her work on existentialist ethics, philosophy and literature and her influence on feminism.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Simone de Beauvoir. "One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman," she wrote in her best known and most influential work, The Second Sex, her exploration of what it means to be a woman in a world defined by men. Published in 1949, it was an immediate success with the thousands of women who bought it. Many male critics felt men came out of it rather badly. Beauvoir was born in 1908 to a high bourgeois family and it was perhaps her good fortune that her father lost his money when she was a girl. With no dowry, she pursued her education in Paris to get work and in a key exam to allow her to teach philosophy, came second only to Jean Paul Sartre. He was retaking. They became lovers and, for the rest of their lives together, intellectual sparring partners. Sartre concentrated on existentialist philosophy; Beauvoir explored that, and existentialist ethics, plus the novel and, increasingly in the decades up to her death in 1986, the situation of women in the world.

Christina Howells
Professor of French and Fellow of Wadham College at the University of Oxford

Margaret Atack
Professor of French at the University of Leeds


Ursula Tidd
Professor of Modern French Literature and Thought at the University of Manchester

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Thu 22 Oct 2015 21:30


Christina Howells at the University of Oxford

Margaret Atack at the University of Leeds

Ursula Tidd at the University of Manchester

Simone de Beauvoir - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Simone de Beauvoir - Wikipedia



Lisa Appiganesi, Simone de Beauvoir (London, 2005)

Steven Crowell (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Existentialism (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

Ruth Evans (ed.), Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex: New Interdisciplinary Essays (Manchester University Press, 1998)

Elizabeth Fallaize, Simone de Beauvoir: A Critical Reader (Routledge, 1998)

Elizabeth Fallaize, The Novels of Simone de Beauvoir (Routledge, 1990)

Emily R. Grosholz (ed.), The Legacy of Simone de Beauvoir (Oxford University Press, 2004)

Sonia Kruks, Simone de Beauvoir and the Politics of Ambiguity (Oxford University Press, 2012)

Toril Moi, Simone de Beauvoir: The Making of an Intellectual Woman (Blackwell, 1994)

Toril Moi, What is a Woman, and Other Essays (Oxford University Press, 2000)

Ursula Tidd, Simone de Beauvoir (Routledge Critical Thinker series, Routledge, 2004)

Ursula Tidd, Simone de Beauvoir (Reaktion Books ‘critical lives’ series, 2009)

Ursula Tidd, Simone de Beauvoir, Gender and Testimony (Cambridge University Press, 1999)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Christina Howells
Interviewed Guest Margaret Atack
Interviewed Guest Ursula Tidd
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 22 Oct 2015 09:00
  • Thu 22 Oct 2015 21:30

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