The Second Sex

Pinned on August 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm by Angie Quinn

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The Second Sex

Newly translated and unabridged in English for the first time, Simone de Beauvoir’s masterwork is a powerful analysis of the Western notion of “woman,” and a groundbreaking exploration of inequality and otherness.  This long-awaited new edition reinstates significant portions of the original French text that were cut in the first English translation. Vital and groundbreaking, Beauvoir’s pioneering and impressive text remains as pertinent today as it was sixty years ago, and will continue to provoke and inspire generations of men and women to come.

In The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir posed questions many men, and women, had yet to ponder when the book was released in 1953. “One wonders if women still exist, if they will always exist, whether or not it is desirable that they should …,” she says in this comprehensive treatise on women. She weaves together history, philosophy, economics, biology, and a host of other disciplines to show women’s place in the world and to postulate on the power of sexuality. This is a powerful piece of writing in a time before “feminism” was even a phrase, much less a movement.


Comments

Anton Dolinsky says:

It did what was necessary to my head I, a young white man, read Second Sex last week. Although it contained almost nothing that I had not read before, it did what was necessary to my head. It somehow made the position of woman as the Other imaginable by me. Reading it, I imagined what it would be like for me to live in a society that had been dominated by women for more than three thousand years, a society where almost all the most renowned people, heroes, and religious icons were women. A society where the United States of America had had nothing but women presidents and every state was predominantly represented by women, though males account for half the population. Where the predominant forms of music for the last fifty years have all treated men as an interesting and occasionally useful, but often annoying or even maddening objects, and us men run around in skimpy calvin klein-style underwear on MTV while hip-hop women constantly call us “dogs” in their raps and the classic rock section of the local used music store overflows with female lyrics that question what is more important in life, men, cars, or booze? and blame us men for breaking their poor girl hearts and for being warlocks, (…), or idiots (while the woman rock stars collect millions of dollars and boy groupies run around ready to have sex with any security guard to get a shot to have sex with the famous women).A society where families are dominated by mothers and their husbands live in fear of having their allowance terminated, and have to do menial chores around the house to try to feel, or at least look, useful. Where a boy child realizes before he is 10 that he is a failure and, at best, a second-rate human being (if not an object)(…) A society that is obsessed by the symbol of the womb–in which musical instruments, spaceships, means of transportation, weapons, religious ornaments, political regalia, and thousands of other things are designed to resemble the shape of a womb. A society in which men are scared, brutally scared, of walking around alone at night because almost any woman can physically overpower them and rape them with a sex toy. In which the most famous and influential philosophers of all time, the ones that get taught in university classes and whose books are actually bought and read and that influence the intelligensia, are all women, mostly women who loathe and/or misunderstand men and write things such as “What is the cure for all of a man’s problems? Impregnating a woman” but despite such stupidities are adored by female thinkers.And so on…So that’s why I rated this 5 stars. It did something to me, which is the most important quality in a book for someone who’s read thousands.

Stacey M Jones says:

The Translation Ruins the Book The Second Sex is an excellent philosophical work on woman; the English translation is not. Terms are translated poorly, such as “l’experience vecue” (the lived experience similar to Husserl’s life-world) being translated as “Woman’s Life Today” (a slam), “en-soi” and “pour-soi” being translated interchangeably as in-itself and for-itself (they cannot be used interchangeably-they are not synonyms), etc. In fact, while the original work was published in two volumes, the English translation fits into one…because the translator cut some three-hundred pages that he felt were “boring.” The original French is lucid, direct, and quite beautiful. The reason that the book sounds so “dated” in English is because the man who translated it was. (He was a zoology emeritus with no background in philosophy). Thus, a lot is lost in the translation, and, since the publisher will not commence with a new translation for the sake of accuracy while the poor one sells so well (think dollar-signs), one could probably learn French and read the original writings first. “The Second Sex” (or rather “Le Deuxieme Sexe”) is a good opening forum into what it is to be the Other, and the philosophical ramifications are just as relevant today as when the book was written.


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