"The Useless Mouths" and Other Literary Writings by Simone de Beauvoir
(Beauvoir Series)

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"The Useless Mouths" and Other Literary Writings brings to English-language readers literary writings--several previously unknown--by Simone de Beauvoir. Culled from sources including various American university collections, the works span decades of Beauvoir's career. Ranging from dramatic works and literary theory to radio broadcasts, they collectively reveal fresh insights into Beauvoir's writing process, personal life, and the honing of her philosophy.


The volume begins with a new translation of the 1945 play "The Useless Mouths," written in Paris during the Nazi occupation. Other pieces were discovered after Beauvoir's death in 1986, such as the 1965 short novel Misunderstanding in Moscow, involving an elderly French couple who confront their fears of aging. Two additional previously unknown texts include the fragmentary "Notes for a Novel," which contains the seed of what she later would call "the problem of the Other," and a lecture on postwar French theater titled "Existential Theater." The collection notably includes the eagerly awaited translation of Beauvoir's contribution to a 1965 debate among Jean-Paul Sartre and other French writers and intellectuals, "What Can Literature Do?"


Prefaces to well-known works such as Bluebeard and Other Fairy Tales, La Bâtarde, and James Joyce in Paris: His Final Years are also available in English for the first time, alongside essays and other short articles. A landmark contribution to Beauvoir studies and French literary studies, the volume includes informative and engaging introductory essays by prominent and rising scholars.


Contributors are Meryl Altman, Elizabeth Fallaize, Alison S. Fell, Sarah Gendron, Dennis A. Gilbert, Laura Hengehold, Eleanore Holveck, Terry Keefe, J. Debbie Mann, Frederick M. Morrison, Catherine Naji, Justine Sarrot, Liz Stanley, Ursula Tidd, and Veronique Zaytzeff.



About Simone de Beauvoir

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Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris in 1908. In 1929 she became the youngest person ever to obtain the agrégation in philosophy at the Sorbonne, placing second on the exam to Jean-Paul Sartre. She taught at lycées in Marseille and Rousen from 1931 to 1937, and in Paris from 1938 to 1943. After World War II, she emerged as one of the leaders of the existentialist movement, working with Sartre on Les Temps Modernes. The author of many acclaimed works, de Beauvoir was one of the most influential thinkers of her generation. She died in 1986.

Author Hometown: Paris
Published October 27, 2011 by University of Illinois Press. 424 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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This volume includes a lesser-performed drama, notes toward a novel, a broadcast interview, lectures, articles, essays of literary criticism and philosophy, as well as miscellaneous prefaces to such works as a book of James Joyce in photos, fairy tales, and an autobiography of author Violette Leduc.

Jul 04 2011 | Read Full Review of "The Useless Mouths" and Othe...

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