My community-mate Katie and I have started a feminist book club. The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir (aka, Ms. Sartre) is our second selection (following Virginia Woolf)–and, thanks to its length, it will probably be our third and fourth selections as well.
This book is peculiar and dense–heartening and illuminating at points; at others odd, what with its 50-year-old biology. Also strange is the experience of reading a book that I’ve already read so much about; I almost felt like I already had an opinion about it before I opened its covers. I’m still working on reading de Beauvoir for herself, outside of its cultural weight as a historical icon. It’s like trying to read the U.S. Constitution entirely outside the context of the United States. But the fact is, this woman is brimming with ideas, and she is clearly taking pains to explore her questions deeply. She begins with her hook–"What is a woman?"–and doesn’t let go.
I admire the sheer endurance of her thinking. It’s a statement in itself.