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One Hundred Years of the Second Sex of Simone

Quoting Emily Murphy of “The Independent” in today’s online issue, “The bare bottom belonged to Simone de Beauvoir, writer, philosopher and secular goddess of feminism, who was born 100 years ago today.”

It was a strange choice of photos by the Nouvel Observateur of the woman who revolutionized the point of view of women, by both men and women, in her writings and in particular, by her tome, “The Second Sex.” One feminist organization reportedly complained that “by illustrating the centenary of Mme de Beauvoir’s birth with a nude photograph taken in 1952, the intelligent, center-left magazine had ‘assaulted the dignity of women.'”

If you are a fan of the avant garde intellectual, who openly enjoyed her affairs with men, particularly with her illustrious alter-ego Jean-Paul Sartre, and women as well, then you may lavish in all the fanfare that surrounds her centenary of her birth…today. Start with this article as published just this morning in The Independent:

Thursday evening at 10:30 p.m. plan to turn on French television channel ARTE which will debut a documentary by Dominique Gros, entitled “Simone de Beauvoir: Une Femme Actuelle.”

My daughter and I had the pleasure of seeing its premiere at the auditorium of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France Monday night along with the producers and many of those who participated in the film.

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France is, in my opinion, clearly “Mitterand’s Folly,” and you can quote me in saying that it is by far the most inhumane architectural disaster of any century I can think of. It would give me nothing but great pleasure to fully critique its shortcomings, but for this venue, the auditorium, with its plush red seats was perfect.

Included in the w

ho’s who audience was Australian/English-raised Hazel Rowley, author of “Tête-à-Tête: The Lives and Loves of Simone de Beauvoir & Jean-Paul Sartre” (published by Harper Collins, New York, in 2005) who is interviewed several times in the documentary and is here in Paris this week to participate in many of the lectures and events surrounding the celebration of her life.

Owner of the popular English Language bookstore, The Village Voice on rue Princess, 6th, Odile Hellier, who hosted Ms. Rowley one year ago in a reading and booksigning, was seated next to her. Also in the audience was American author, Jake Lamar, who now boasts of six books, two of which are set in Paris.

Today and over the next few days, there are a variety of events happening here in Paris one can partake in. This morning, a program opened at the Réfectoire des Cordeliers at 15, rue de l’Ecole de Médecine, 6th, with Hazel Rowley as one of the lecturers. This afternoon, at 4:15 p.m., Sheila Malovany-Chevallier and Constance Borde, both on the Executive Committee of Democrats Abroad and translators, will be speaking on “Living Le Deuxième Sexe: expériences de traduction” (Living the Second Sex: Experiences of Translation.” Then, don’t miss the numerous programs in which you can take advantage to aquire a more complete sense of who this fascinating and brilliant woman really was.

For a full listing, visit

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. To read the report on yesterday’s coffee gathering at Parler Paris Après Midi, visit /parlerparis/apresmidi.html and mark your calendar for next month’s on February 12th.

P.P.S. The Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group’s first evening in the new Lutèce Langue location hosted lots of new faces. Today’s session begins at another new location: Le Bistrot de la Grille at 3 p.m. Scroll down or visit the site for new locations and times and remember, your first time is free!


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