Much has been written on Simone de Beauvoir, one of France's leading intellectual figures of the 20th century. The sheer volume of her autobiographical writings testifies to her indefatigable questioning of the nature of existence and her personal and public engagement in the world over the best part of a century. This study aims to re-evaluate her extensive autobiographical /uvre, exploring its place in relation to the French autobiographical can, and in the light of recent theorisations of autobiography. It presents readings which engage critically with existentialism, feminist theory, and autobiography studies generally, in particular focusing on the question of 'autothanatography', a term developed by theorists such as Jacques Derrida and Louis Marin. A new reading of the autobiographies via the lens of thanatos is presented with questions of gender in mind, and the nature of autobiography as genre is also explored more fully with particular attention paid to narrative voice. Close readings of the autobiographical /uvre combine with contextual details, critical overviews and links to recent developments in critiques of Beauvoir's fiction and philosophy. The study would be of particular interest to scholars in the following areas: 20th century French literature and culture; Autobiography studies; Literary theory; existentialism; Women's studies.
Susan Bainbrigge is a Lecturer in French at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on 20th century and contemporary French literature and Autobiography studies, and she has published articles on Simone de Beauvoir, Suzanne Lilar, Jean-Paul Sartre and Serge Doubrovsky in the context of writing the self. More recent research has taken her into the field of Belgian francophone literature and she has edited, with Jeanette den Toonder, a book on Amelie Nothomb entitled Amelie Nothomb: Authorship, Identity and Narrative Practice (2003).