Lovers and Philosophers — Jean-Paul Sartre & Simone de Beauvoir Together in 1967

Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beau­voir. They were the intel­lec­tu­al pow­er cou­ple of the 20th cen­tu­ry. Some have called Sartre the father of Exis­ten­tial­ism. But per­haps it’s more accu­rate to call him the chief pop­u­lar­iz­er of the philo­soph­i­cal move­ment. And Simone de Beau­voir, she wrote The Sec­ond Sex, the sprawl­ing 1949 tome that laid the intel­lec­tu­al foun­da­tion for sec­ond-wave fem­i­nism that explod­ed dur­ing the 1960s.

The two philoso­phers first became an item in Octo­ber 1929, but it was nev­er a tra­di­tion­al rela­tion­ship. They nei­ther mar­ried nor shared the same liv­ing quar­ters, and they famous­ly had an open rela­tion­ship. But, as de Beau­voir said, “The com­rade­ship that weld­ed our lives togeth­er made a super­flu­ous mock­ery of any oth­er bond we might have forged for our­selves.”

They were a pow­er­ful cou­ple, writes Louis Menand in The New York­er, “with inde­pen­dent lives, who met in cafés, where they wrote their books and saw their friends at sep­a­rate tables… but who main­tained a kind of soul mar­riage.” What­ev­er your per­son­al views, you need to con­sid­er this: The rela­tion­ship worked for Sartre and de Beau­voir for 50 years.

Despite their celebri­ty, we’ve rarely come across footage of the two philoso­phers togeth­er. So we’re bring­ing you this — a rare clip from a 1967 doc­u­men­tary filmed at Sartre’s Mont­par­nasse high-rise apart­ment, over­look­ing the ceme­tery where the two philoso­phers were even­tu­al­ly buried. Some­what fit­ting­ly, we see the two intel­lec­tu­als, but nev­er in the same frame. You can pur­chase the com­plete film for edu­ca­tion­al use here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Jean-Paul Sartre Breaks Down the Bad Faith of Intel­lec­tu­als

Jean-Paul Sartre Writes a Script for John Huston’s Film on Freud (1958)

Sartre, Hei­deg­ger, Niet­zsche: Three Philoso­phers in Three Hours

by | Permalink | Comments (4) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (4)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Luisa López G says:

    I love it, so amaz­ing and beau­ti­ful arti­cle. Con­grat­u­la­tions !!

  • Poppy says:

    “What­ev­er your per­son­al views, you need to con­sid­er this: The rela­tion­ship worked for Sartre and de Beau­voir for 50 years.”

    MY RESPONSE: de Beau­voir was rid­den with jeal­ousy the entire time Sartre had his affairs with oth­er women. This is a known and proven fact because she doc­u­ments this in her writ­ings. The only rea­son this rela­tion­ship worked was because it was the only way she could be with Sartre. If she had not agreed to his terms it would have put a strain between them. de Beau­voir loved Sartre so much she would rather deal with her jeal­ousy than lose him alto­geth­er. In fact, every part­ner she took was only done in retal­i­a­tion to her jeal­ous feel­ings for Sartre’s lovers, even going as far as to sleep with the same women as he did to make a point.

    It is com­plete­ly inac­cu­rate to say their rela­tion­ship “worked” 50 years because it was an open rela­tion­ship. No, it worked because de Beau­voir loved Sartre. It worked because she bit her tongue and turned a blind eye. It worked because she knew she could poten­tial­ly lose her best friend. FYI, it takes TWO peo­ple to be com­plete­ly okay with an open rela­tion­ship in order for it to actu­al­ly BE a “work­ing” open rela­tion­ship. And this one cer­tain­ly was not.

  • Mr Attache says:

    Very good to see film of them both ‚how­ev­er
    Sartre did know that his own coun­try were
    the first to make war in Viet-Nam .
    It’s more com­pli­cat­ed then to think only of
    the Super-pow­er ideas as a protest ‚these many years lat­er.
    How­ev­er as with war an ene­my becomes a co-part­ner as today to find Viet-Nam mak­ing the com­put­er I now write on along with my win­ter jack­et.

  • PHO TUE says:

    Tôi tìm những gì mới mẻ nhất trong văn chương cũng như triết học. Có thể có một nền văn hóa nào đó hoàn toàn mới mẻ từ góc độ toàn cầu? Nó không dựa trên các kinh nghiệm văn hóa từ quá khứ? Với những đặc tính bản địa, dận tộc, và do vậy rơi vào sự kỳ thị của nó?

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.