Revolutionary and incendiary, The Second Sex is one of the earliest attempts to confront human history from a feminist perspective. Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris in 1908. When she was 21, De Beauvoir met Jean-Paul Sartre, forming a partnership and romance that would shape both of their lives and philosophical beliefs. De Beauvoir published countless works of fiction and nonfiction during her lengthy career—often with existentialist themes—including 1949’s The Second Sex, which is considered a staple of the modern feminist movement. De Beauvoir also traveled the world extensively, something you will also note in many of her works. She died in Paris in 1986 and was buried with her lover, Sartre.
The Second Sex
Simone de Beauvoir’s book deals with the treatment of women throughout history and is often regarded as a major work of feminist philosophy and the starting point of second-wave feminism. Beauvoir researched and wrote the book in about 14 months when she was 38 years old. She published it in two volumes and some chapters first appeared in Les Temps modernes. The Second Sex was an attempt to explain “why a woman’s situation, still, even today, prevents her from exploring the world’s basic problems.”