Yesterday, I read the Louis Menand article in The New Yorker about Sartre and Beauvoir. It ends with this line:
Though her affairs, for the most part, were love affairs, it is plain from almost every page she wrote that she would have given them all up if she could have had Sartre for herself alone.
I’m not sure I buy this, based on the evidence Menand presents. But what is troubling to me, which I didn’t realize before, is that Beauvoir was herself such a sexual predator with young women.
In looking over all of the confessions and correspondence that has come to light slowly over the past twenty years, Menand does find a much nastier truth than the one Sartre and Beauvoir tried to present while they were alive. Sex is so much stronger than even the sharpest minds.
The lessons I draw are:
- You can have the strongest mind of your generation and a deeply pathological romantic relationship at the same time.
- A deep connection that involves complicity in pathology may even, in some ways, contribute to great philosophical writing.
- Harper can’t date men OR women until she’s 27.