Simone de Beauvoir and the Limits of Commitment

Simone de Beauvoir, whose name is inextricably linked with that of Jean-Paul Sartre, became famous as a leader of the existentialist movement and as a member of a coterie of influential left-wing intellectuals in postwar France. Latterly, however, she was perhaps best known as a leading advocate of feminism.

Originally published in 1981, this was the first full-scale study of Simone de Beauvoir. The focus is the key existentialist concept of commitment (engagement), which is central to her thought, and its translation into action. Thus, a good deal of the book is devoted to a biographical study, while the author examines commitment as embodied in Simone de Beauvoir's ethics, politics, writings, and feminism. Apart from considering the whole span of her life and work, the book is important in the way it draws on a number of press interviews and other direct statements rather than the literary work only.