Beauvoir's Woman Destroyed, "novel for midinette"?

Abstract : In January 1968, Simone de Beauvoir published a collection of three shorts stories, The Woman Destroyed. The first one, “Age of discretion”, is a rewriting of another short story, unpublished since the nineties, “Misunderstanding in Moscow”. The main characters are a couple of retired teachers and researchers, in conflict with age, research, their time, and their only son, Philippe. The second short story, “Monologue”, locks up the reader with Murielle, a deranged woman. Through Murielle’s monologue, we discover the destructive power she had had on her daughter, Sylvie, corned into committing suicide. In the third story, “The Woman Destroyed”, Monique describes her divorce, and try to understand the reason why her marriage failed. The publication of this story, illustrated by Helene de Beauvoir, in French magazine ELLE, was very poorly received by critics. Bernard Pivot, famous journalist at the conservative Figaro littéraire, wrote that it was a “novel for silly young girls” (Beauvoir, All said and done). Others critics said that The Woman Destroyed was inferior to The Second Sex. We would like to question Pivot’s description of Beauvoir’s story, hardly fitting when it comes to the author of The Second Sex. Firstly, we would like to analyze the actual reception of the collection: why critics were so hard for Beauvoir? Who is Beauvoir in 1968? Secondly, we would like to compare The Woman Destroyed with The Second Sex, in a much deeper manner that literary critics did in 1968. Beauvoir writes a fiction based on the themes and arguments she developed in The Second Sex. Lastly, we will ask if the main female characters of The Woman Destroyed could be described as feminist: we will discuss their identity and oppression as women, the fact that they belong to different social classes (upper and middle class) as well as the societal pressure on their life, amidst a consumerist society.
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https://hal-univ-tln.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02106075
Contributor : Tiphaine Martin <>
Submitted on : Monday, April 22, 2019 - 3:21:36 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - 1:19:57 AM

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Tiphaine Martin. Beauvoir's Woman Destroyed, "novel for midinette"?. 2019 Modern Language Association Convention, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Sheraton Grand Chicago and Fairmont Chicago, Chicago, Modern Language Association, Jan 2019, Chicago, United States. ⟨hal-02106075⟩

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