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The First Second (Existentialist, that is)

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  • trop_de_simones
    It is difficult to describe all that Sartre had become in the first two years of their relationship. He was her mentor, guiding her intellectual life by
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2005
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      "It is difficult to describe all that Sartre had become in the first
      two years of their relationship. He was her mentor, guiding her
      intellectual life by sending lists of books he wanted her to read so
      that they could discuss them together. He was her lover, and,
      whatever the actuality of their physical relationship, this romantic
      attachment had become the primary obsession of her life. He was also
      a role model, the first and most important she ever had, the one
      after whom she tried to pattern herself for years to come. That he
      was male only increased her confusion about herself.

      "Elflike" indeed, she had followed him on one merry prank after
      another, breaking off from her family, scorning their customs and
      values, ignoring the confusion and humiliation her unorthodox
      behavior caused them. But at the age of twenty-two, seeing him on
      occasional weekends and having him tell her the details of his
      attraction to other women, all she felt was increasing anxiety over
      having sacrificed every form of personal security to be with him or
      do what he wanted.

      He told her she had to do it in order to realize her potential. This
      was all very well, but the nagging question she could no longer
      ignore was, what potential? Teaching ten-year-old girls to conjugate
      Latin verbs several times a week was hardly a rewarding career for
      the youngest and most brilliant agregee in history of French
      education for women. He had told her that he loved her, and that she
      would always be first in his heart and mind, but it was difficult to
      accept his voracious appetite for other women and the willing
      complicity he expected of her in what were truly emotionally painful
      situations.

      He told her she must become a writer, and so she tried that too, but
      unsuccessfully……By this time, Sartre had no desire to marry Simone de
      Beauvoir, but he expected her to adopt every aspect of his thinking,
      to comment upon all his ideas and interests and the details of every
      possible intimacy, even those he had with other women. He took it for
      granted that she would express her identity through total
      identification with him, which she interpreted to mean that they
      would present an image to the world so intricately conjoined that no
      one would be able to tell where one of them ended and the other
      began. It was unquestionably a lopsided relationship, but she was
      insecure and willing to let him lead her."

      All the same, his dependency on her was just as deep and all-
      encompassing.

      Simone de Beauvoir, A Biography
      by Deirdre Bair
      Simon & Schuster, New York 1990
      posted by trop_de_simones
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