Simon de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre formed one of the most famous literary couples of the twentieth century. Their relationship took on the quality of legend and served as a model of openness and honesty for countless men and women. Sartre was revered during his lifetime as a paradigm of the modern philosopher and intellectual, but since her death de Beauvoir's figure loomed increasingly larger, and her literary reputation threatens to eclipse his. Her The Second Sex is, by any standard, one of the most important and influential books of the twentieth century. When these letters were published in France in 1990, they caused a storm of controversy. Here de Beauvoir tells Sartre everything, tracing the extraordinary complications of their triangular love life. These letters reveal her not only as manipulative and dependent, but also as vulnerable, passionate, jealous, and committed. De Beauvoir provides a sense of life in Montparnasse and Saint-Germain-des-Pres among the French intellectual and literary elite from 1930 till 1963.
Simone de Beauvoir taught philosophy at the Sorbonne between 1931 and 1943. Her many books include The Second Sex, the novels She Came to Stay and The Mandarins, and her great autobiographical writings from Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter to Old Age. De Beauvoir died in 1986. Quintin Hoare is the director of the Bosnian Institute and has translated numerous works by Sartre, Antonio Gramsci, and other French authors. He lives in the UK.