Becoming Beauvoir: A Life follows this template but does not fall into the trap of becoming a dry expose of the famous philosopher, novelist, feminist, and activist. The author, Kate Kirkpatrick, takes the reader into very personal, intimate areas of Simone de Beauvoir’s (1908-1986) life. Simone de Beauvoir became a force de jour in French existentialist philosophy, and has inherited an (in)famous reputation, depending on who you speak with. As the longtime friend and lover of Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), she made many waves in the culture and attracted the ire of those who would rather ignore the treatment of women in society.
In this ambitious biography, Kirkpatrick shows how Beauvoir came to form and write her major philosophical and literary works, including the short but dense staple of existentialism The Ethics of Ambiguity, her most famous novel The Mandarins, and her tome of historical analysis and collected anecdotes about the roles women play in society, The Second Sex. Kirkpatrick successfully puts Beauvoir’s personality and thought on display, defending her originality and philosophy from the contemporary critics who accused her of owing everything to Jean-Paul Sartre.