The younger and healthier a woman is and the more her new and glossy body seems destined for eternal freshness, the less useful is artifice; but the carnal weakness of this prey that man takes and its ominous deterioration always have to be hidden from him... In any case, the more traits and proportions of a woman seem contrived, the more she delighted the heart of man because she seemed to escape the metamorphosis of natural things. The result is this strange paradox that by desiring to grasp nature, but transfigured, in woman, man destines her to artifice."The Second Sex"
If so few female geniuses are found in history, it is because society denies them any means of expression."The Second Sex"
There is only one solution if old age is not to be an absurd parody of our former life, and that is to go on pursuing ends that give our existence a meaning.
Life is occupied in both perpetuating itself and in surpassing itself; if all it does is maintain itself, then living is only not dying.
To will oneself moral and to will oneself free are one and the same decision."The Ethics of Ambiguity"
In fact, the sickness I was suffering from was that I had been driven out of the paradise of childhood and had not found my place in the world of adults. I had set myself up in the absolute in order to gaze down upon this world which was rejecting me; now, if I wanted to act, to write a book, to express myself, I would have to go back down there: but my contempt had annihilated it, and I could see nothing but emptiness. The fact is that I had not yet put my hand to the plow. Love, action, literary work: all I did was to roll these ideas round in my head; I was fighting in an abstract fashion against abstract possibilities, and I had come to the conclusion that reality was of the most pitiful insignificance. I was hoping to hold fast to something, and misled by the violence of this indefinite desire, I was confusing it with the desire for the infinite."Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter"
Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness, but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it."The Second Sex"
Youth and what the Italians so prettily call stamina. The vigor, the fire, that enables you to love and create. When you've lost that, you've lost everything."The Woman Destroyed"
The books I liked became a Bible from which I drew advice and support; I copied out long passages from them; I memorized new canticles and new litanies, psalms, proverbs, and prophecies, and I sanctified every incident in my life by the recital of these sacred texts. My emotions, my tears, and my hopes were no less sincere on account of that; the words and the cadences, the lines and the verses were not aids to make believe: but they rescued from silent oblivion all those intimate adventures of the spirit that I couldn’t speak to anyone about; they created a kind of communion between myself and those twin souls which existed somewhere out of reach; instead of living out my small private existence, I was participating in a great spiritual epic.” ― Simone de Beauvoir, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter"Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter"
Art, literature, and philosophy are attempts to found the world anew on a human freedom: that of the creator; to foster such an aim, one must first unequivocally posit oneself as a freedom. The restrictions that education and custom impose on a woman limit her grasp of the universe...Indeed, for one to become a creator, it is not enough to be cultivated, that is, to make going to shows and meeting people part of one's life; culture must be apprehended through the free movement of a transcendence; the spirit with all its riches must project itself in an empty sky that is its to fill; but if a thousand fine bonds tie it to the earth, its surge is broken. The girl today can certainly go out alone, stroll in the Tuileries; but I have already said how hostile the street is: eyes everywhere, hands waiting: if she wanders absentmindedly, her thoughts elsewhere, if she lights a cigarette in a cafe, if she goes to the cinema alone, an unpleasant incident can quickly occur; she must inspire respect by the way she dresses and behaves: this concern rivets her to the ground and self. "Her wings are clipped." At eighteen, T.E. Lawrence went on a grand tour through France by bicycle; a young girl would never be permitted to take on such an adventure...Yet such experiences have an inestimable impact: this is how an individual in the headiness of freedom and discovery learns to look at the entire world as his fief...[The girl] may feel alone within the world: she never stands up in front of it, unique and sovereign."The Second Sex"
To be oneself, simply oneself, is so amazing and utterly unique an experience that it's hard to convince oneself so singular a thing happens to everybody."Prime of Life"
Even if one is neither vain nor self-obsessed, it is so extraordinary to be oneself - exactly oneself and no one else - and so unique, that it seems natural that one should also be unique for someone else."The Woman Destroyed"
To abstain from politics is in itself a political attitude."Prime of Life"
No one would take me just as I was, no one loved me; I shall love myself enough, I thought, to make up for this abandonment by everyone. Formerly, I had been quite satisfied with myself, but I had taken very little trouble to increase my self-knowledge; from now on, I would stand outside myself, watch over and observe myself; in my diary I had long conversations with myself. I was entering a world whose newness stunned me. I learned to distinguish between distress and melancholy, lack of emotion and serenity; I learned to recognize the hesitations of the heart, and its ecstasies, the splendor of great renunciations, and the subterranean murmurings of hope. I entered into exalted trances, as on those evenings when I used to gaze upon the sky full of moving clouds behind the distant blue of the hills; I was both the landscape and its beholder: I existed only through myself, and for myself… My path was clearly marked: I had to perfect, enrich and express myself in a work of art that would help others to live.
To will oneself free is also to will others free.