Book//mark - Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter | Simone de Beauvoir, 1958

Simone de Beauvoir, Memoires d'une Jeune Fille Rangee, 1958                       Simone de Beauvoir, her mother Françoise and Hélène, her younger sister


“On the evenings when my parents held parties, the drawing-room mirrors multiplied to infinity the scintillations of a crystal chandelier. Mama would take her seat at the grand piano to accompany a lady dressed in a cloud of tulle who played the violin and a cousin who performed on a cello. I would crack between my teeth the candied shell of an artificial fruit, and a burst of light would illuminate my palate with a taste of blackcurrant or pineapple: all the colours, all the lights were mine, the gauzy scarves, the diamonds, the laces; I held the whole party in my mouth.”

“Suddenly I was struck motionless: I was living through the first chapter of a novel in which I was the heroine; she was still almost a child, but we, too, were growing up.”

“I was very fond of Lagneau’s phrase: “I have no comfort but in my absolute despair.”

“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.”

“All success cloaks a surrender.”

“Alone: for the first time I understood the terrible significance of that word. Alone without a witness, without anyone to speak to, without refuge. The breath in my body, the blood in my veins, all this hurly-burly in my head existed for nobody.”

“If I were to share Jaques' existence I would find it hard to hold my own against him, for already I found his nihilism contagious.”

“But I know my only defense is to answer, “I think it because it is true,” thereby eliminating my subjectivity;”

“All those minds that are interested in finding out the truth communicate with each other across the distances of space and time. I, too, was taking part in the effort which humanity makes to know.”

“At night I would climb the steps to the Sacre-Coeur, and I would watch Paris, that futile oasis, scintillating in the wilderness of space. I would weep, because it was so beautiful, and because it was so useless.”

“I had to call the past to life, and illuminate every corner of the five continents, descend to the centre of the earth and make the circuit of the moon and stars”


Simone de Beauvoir, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter 1958


Hélène & Simone de Beauvoir

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