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The Woman Destroyed (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)

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First published in 1967, this book consists of three short novellas on the theme of women's vulnerability – in the first, to the process of ageing, in the second to loneliness, and, in the third, to the growing indifference of a loved one. THE WOMAN DESTROYED is a collection of three stories, each an exquisite and passionate study of a woman trapped by circumstances, trying First published in 1967, this book consists of three short novellas on the theme of women's vulnerability – in the first, to the process of ageing, in the second to loneliness, and, in the third, to the growing indifference of a loved one. THE WOMAN DESTROYED is a collection of three stories, each an exquisite and passionate study of a woman trapped by circumstances, trying to rebuild her life. In the first story, ‘The Age of Discretion’, a successful scholar fast approaching middle age faces a double shock – her son’s abandonment of the career she has chosen for him and the harsh critical rejection of her latest academic work. ‘The Monologue’ is an extraordinary New Year’s Eve outpouring of invective from a woman consumed with bitterness and loneliness after her son and her husband have left home. Finally, in ‘The Woman Destroyed’, Simone de Beauvoir tells the story of Monique, trying desperately to resurrect her life after her husband confesses to an affair with a younger woman. Compassionate, lucid, full of wit and knowing, Simone de Beauvoir’s rare insight into the inequalities and complexities of women’s lives is unsurpassable.


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First published in 1967, this book consists of three short novellas on the theme of women's vulnerability – in the first, to the process of ageing, in the second to loneliness, and, in the third, to the growing indifference of a loved one. THE WOMAN DESTROYED is a collection of three stories, each an exquisite and passionate study of a woman trapped by circumstances, trying First published in 1967, this book consists of three short novellas on the theme of women's vulnerability – in the first, to the process of ageing, in the second to loneliness, and, in the third, to the growing indifference of a loved one. THE WOMAN DESTROYED is a collection of three stories, each an exquisite and passionate study of a woman trapped by circumstances, trying to rebuild her life. In the first story, ‘The Age of Discretion’, a successful scholar fast approaching middle age faces a double shock – her son’s abandonment of the career she has chosen for him and the harsh critical rejection of her latest academic work. ‘The Monologue’ is an extraordinary New Year’s Eve outpouring of invective from a woman consumed with bitterness and loneliness after her son and her husband have left home. Finally, in ‘The Woman Destroyed’, Simone de Beauvoir tells the story of Monique, trying desperately to resurrect her life after her husband confesses to an affair with a younger woman. Compassionate, lucid, full of wit and knowing, Simone de Beauvoir’s rare insight into the inequalities and complexities of women’s lives is unsurpassable.

30 review for The Woman Destroyed (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennie Rogers

    Reading devastating French literature on public transport is my fave pastime

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jim Fonseca

    Rich and powerful writing in these three novellas. I will definitely read more of this author. SPOILERS FOLLOW BELOW FOR ALL 3 NOVELLAS! The first novella, The Age of Discretion, centers around the aging process and the end of careers of both husband and wife. In addition, there’s the bitter disappointment the woman feels after the son she has ‘groomed’ to follow in her footsteps as a professor turns thirty and changes career and political outlook to go into government service. His mother feels Rich and powerful writing in these three novellas. I will definitely read more of this author. SPOILERS FOLLOW BELOW FOR ALL 3 NOVELLAS! The first novella, The Age of Discretion, centers around the aging process and the end of careers of both husband and wife. In addition, there’s the bitter disappointment the woman feels after the son she has ‘groomed’ to follow in her footsteps as a professor turns thirty and changes career and political outlook to go into government service. His mother feels it’s all about his wife and father-in-law pushing him to make more money and get a ‘real’ Job. Amazingly she turns against her son in an incredibly brutal way. She throws her son out of her house and says things like “I cannot love anyone I do not respect.” And to her husband: “Do you think I ought to see him again?” [This is their son!] The couple is both around 60. He still works as a scientist but feels only younger people can contribute. “Great scientists are valuable to science in the first half of their lives and harmful in the second.” [quote from Bachelard] She argues with him until her latest book that she thought of as 'filled with new insights’ is panned by both critics and friends as a summary of her earlier work. “In earlier days I never used to worry about old people. I looked upon them as the dead whose legs still kept moving.” The second novella, The Monologue, is a bitter screed by a woman left alone and abandoned at age 44. Her daughter, off on her own, died five years ago. “It’s flying in the face of nature that my own brother my own mother should prefer my ex-husband to me.” And: “I wanted decent clean children I didn’t want Francis to become a fairy like Nanard.” “I’m not ill I live alone because your swine of a father ditched me he buttered me up then he tortured me he even knocked me about….I have weapons I’ll use them he’ll come back to me I shan’t go on rotting all alone in this dump with those people on the next floor who trample me underfoot and the ones next door who wake me every morning with their radio and no one to bring me so much as a crust when I’m hungry. All those fat cows have a man to protect them and kids to wait on them and me nothing…” She envisions her enemies roasting in hell: “You owe me this revenge, God. I insist that you grant it to me.” And, of course, through this screed, she reveals so much of herself to us so that we see why she has been abandoned. The title story, The Woman Destroyed, is written as a diary over six months or so. A woman has a husband and two daughters, one locally and one in the US that she seldom sees. Her husband admits to her that he is having an affair. With the advice of her friends she agrees to let him continue with it, taking the attitude that “men his age do these things; it will pass.” That turns out to be a mistake. All her life, she only worked in the home. He still has his career, his wife, his mistress and good times. She has nothing. Even with her women friends all she talks about is her situation with her husband. When she hears his key in the lock “…there was that horrible taste in my mouth – the taste of dread. (The same exactly, as when I used to go to see my father dying in the nursing home.)” “It seems to me that I no longer have anything whatever to do. I always used to be busy. Now everything – knitting, cooking, reading, putting on a record – everything seems pointless.” “Women who do nothing can’t stand those who work.” (Did her husband’s mistress really say that?) Good stories and excellent writing. Paris street scene from dreamstime.com Photo of the author from alpha.aeon.co/images

  3. 5 out of 5

    emma

    if you ever need to strike some fear into the hearts of the men in your life, just start reading this in front of them. it worked for me. that's enough for me to read anything in and of itself, including but not limited to golf magazines, industrial catalogs, and the grocery lists of my least favorite neighbor (WHY ARE YOUR PARTIES ALWAYS ON WEEKDAYS, YES I KNOW I SOUND LIKE A GRUMPY OLD MAN IN THE FIRST HALF OF A FEEL-GOOD FAMILY FILM)...but in addition to that, simone de beauvoir is a stunning if you ever need to strike some fear into the hearts of the men in your life, just start reading this in front of them. it worked for me. that's enough for me to read anything in and of itself, including but not limited to golf magazines, industrial catalogs, and the grocery lists of my least favorite neighbor (WHY ARE YOUR PARTIES ALWAYS ON WEEKDAYS, YES I KNOW I SOUND LIKE A GRUMPY OLD MAN IN THE FIRST HALF OF A FEEL-GOOD FAMILY FILM)...but in addition to that, simone de beauvoir is a stunning writer with a true sense of people. this ruled. it's a collection of three stories about women past youth who, in short, are having lives they thought were settled suddenly cleaved into before and after. the first one was my favorite, five stars for it, but all three were clever and captivating and it's 4.5 altogether. bonus anecdote for goodreads: on the back it says "She became the youngest person ever to obtain the agregation in philosophy at the Sorbonne, placing second to Jean-Paul Sartre" and when i was first reading it this guy was like "why would they say she was second." makes me giggle. bottom line: allow me to be the first to say - simone de beauvoir is good! ----------------- tbr review about to become intolerable

  4. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Schirmer

    *Note – This review only concerns “The Woman Destroyed”, the third and longest story in this book. Several years ago, shortly after finishing “The Mandarins”, Simone De Beauvior's tour de force novel, I came across an article titled: “Are Good Books Bad for You?” I immediately thought of De Beauvior’s fiction. Like nothing else I’ve ever read, her fiction has the ability to influence my emotions and my opinions in a deep and powerful way. It’s nearly dangerous, I think, the depth at which she str *Note – This review only concerns “The Woman Destroyed”, the third and longest story in this book. Several years ago, shortly after finishing “The Mandarins”, Simone De Beauvior's tour de force novel, I came across an article titled: “Are Good Books Bad for You?” I immediately thought of De Beauvior’s fiction. Like nothing else I’ve ever read, her fiction has the ability to influence my emotions and my opinions in a deep and powerful way. It’s nearly dangerous, I think, the depth at which she strikes chords in her readers. Reading “The Woman Destroyed”, I was reminded that all great writing is a warning, or at the very least, veiled advice on how one might attempt to live a meaningful life. In “The Woman Destroyed”, Monique’s husband, Maurice, has confessed to having an affair and asks that she be okay with it. Taking advice from a close friend, Monique wills herself to allow the affair to continue, hoping in vain that Maurice’s midlife crisis will pass and that he’ll eventually spurn his mistress. But as time passes, the mistress slowly begins to take center-stage in Maurice’s life, so much so that his time becomes unequally divided between the two women. Monique is consumed with jealousy, fear, self-doubt, and inevitably she begins to unravel. This story is heartbreaking and emotionally provocative. I found myself carefully questioning my own ideas about fidelity, polyamory, marriage, success, family and the list goes on. At the outset of the novella, Monique appears to have lived a meaningful life as a wife and mother, but De Beauvoir shatters that assumption; dropping Monique deeper and deeper into her despair, revealing failures that are too large and too far back to repair. Amazing writing, and certainly a warning. I was wild with anxiety while reading this book, but I loved it and it broke my heart.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    It is not my habit to give books, or anything else, star ratings, but looking though other reviews I saw that four was a popular choice for this collection of short stories, and that felt about right. So went with four and indeed further reading confirmed that despite one trip to Rome, there is nothing in this book about post-war Italian politics or curly haired comedians. So four star indeed, and no movement on that. What we have is a collection of three short stories The Age of Discretion, The It is not my habit to give books, or anything else, star ratings, but looking though other reviews I saw that four was a popular choice for this collection of short stories, and that felt about right. So went with four and indeed further reading confirmed that despite one trip to Rome, there is nothing in this book about post-war Italian politics or curly haired comedians. So four star indeed, and no movement on that. What we have is a collection of three short stories The Age of Discretion, The Monologue, and The Woman Destroyed. They are all in the tragic mode, I apologise if you saw the title of the collection and imagined something different from a not exactly cheerful but well observed depiction of unhappy states of mind. Each story - spoiler alert - focuses on a woman, each of the three women stands in relationship to the narrator of Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, potential other adult selves maybe, so all three women are not only French, but specifically Parisian, and what I would call from a British point of view, upper middle class - research scientists, university academics, potential government ministers and the like (view spoiler)[ though I suppose a government minister must by definition be upper class even if they are not particularly classy, but still I find myself bridling at that idea, a curious thing one's own prejudices (hide spoiler)] . Each woman is in a crisis - sorry another spoiler - I hope you are keeping count. After reading On the Beach it was I guess inevitable that any half way reasonable book would stand out as an easy four star read, the intensity of the characters presented means that you don't suspect that they would be ruined or flop over if exposed to the rain of the Paris basin. Indeed the Monologue with it's use of punctuation and paragraphs seems a little old fashioned even for 1967 in its presentation of a continuous stream of consciousness embittered monologue, but then I'm not an upper middle class Parisian woman in the late 1960s perhaps they did think in sentences and paragraphs. Generally while intense and humane, the writing doesn't have some hard to describe additional quality that would lead me to want to force the book in to every one's hands as one might, if moved by a five star read. I don't have the reading to link these stories to Madame de Beauvoir's philosophical or autobiographical concerns, but across all three stories is a sense of dependency and domination, living through others and living through appearances and of the tremendous grief that ensues when the ploughshare cuts through the mouse's nest (view spoiler)[ I feel that I reference Robert Burn's To a Mouse at least every third or fourth review that I write and plainly I'd best not break that social union (hide spoiler)] . While de Beauvoir shows us these three women in periods of crisis, some shorter, some longer, it is also plain that the roots of their sorrow run deep, their happiness built on unreliable foundations, they have to carry the burden - particularly marked in the final story, of social expectation. The first and the last women really aren't even dealing with their own crises but are caught up in the effects of the crises of the men in their lives, the different manifestations of resignation in man and son, followed eventually by the woman coming to face as well with her own shortcomings so all three form a triptych of reaction to loss and pain: resignation, anger, the distraction of ambition. The last woman is left reeling by the husband's mid-life crisis as manifested in adultery. Her friend advises her to see a gynecologist, a nice touch with it's suggestion that the suffering woman must finally give birth to herself, but that is no easy process: But I know that I shall move. The door will open slowly and I shall see what there is behind the door It is the future. The door to the future will open. Slowly. Unrelentingly. I am on the threshold. There is only this door and what is watching behind it. I am afraid. And I cannot call to anyone for help. I am afraid. (p.220)

  6. 4 out of 5

    persephone ☾

    in conclusion, husband ? killed (brutally murdered preferably) kids ? aborted friends ? dumped hotel ? trivago

  7. 5 out of 5

    daniella ❀

    an excellent social observation and reflection of women's dependence on men, and it accurately represented the emotional world of women. incredibly personal, enraging, powerful, and devastating all at the same time. de beauvoir delivered this book brilliantly. an excellent social observation and reflection of women's dependence on men, and it accurately represented the emotional world of women. incredibly personal, enraging, powerful, and devastating all at the same time. de beauvoir delivered this book brilliantly.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Julia Deptuła

    I must admit, I started this book with A LOT of negative reviews in mind. I remember De Beauvoir being called pretentious, petty and generally often treated like a joke (at least by a great part of my teachers & scholars that they quoted). Despite my initial animosity, the book is literally phenomenal. The first story, for me at least, was really aesthetically pleasingly in the descriptions of the nature. The main character was relatable in a lot of ways, but because of that at the end I could f I must admit, I started this book with A LOT of negative reviews in mind. I remember De Beauvoir being called pretentious, petty and generally often treated like a joke (at least by a great part of my teachers & scholars that they quoted). Despite my initial animosity, the book is literally phenomenal. The first story, for me at least, was really aesthetically pleasingly in the descriptions of the nature. The main character was relatable in a lot of ways, but because of that at the end I could feel the disappointment, bitterness and chunks of grief. The last story presented (bit by bit) woman’s life crumbling (as cliche as it is, because of a male). What I found the most moving was the contrast of how the Women started their stories (secure, accomplished and self-confident), but ended up in a place of, seemingly, no return to their past lives. Of course each one of them has dealt with their problems differently. One was one tried to be rational, while others have been tormented by emotions. Reading such detailed description of one’s emotions can be hard, especially if You are in bad place yourself. On the other hand, this book has one of the best descriptions of feelings I have ever read. It made me suffer with them, share their hopes, dreams and feel their hopelessness. Even though the protagonists are miserable at best most of the times, I feel like this book celebrates womanhood so beautifully. Not only the MAIN focus is put on women and their thoughts, but it makes one wonder if the book itself could be so genius if not written by a female. What I mean is that it shows such emotional vulnerability, which men at that time (& often even nowadays) cannot stomach. After reading this book I honestly dont care if being a fan of De Beauvoir’s work makes me “a crazy feminist” and a rather “laugh-worthy part of literary society” as my teachers would say. In hindsight younger me should have known that people praising the so called “dead, white men club” wouldn’t be really objective on a piece of writing so overwhelmingly female (and i mean it in the best way possible). This book brought me great joy & taught me a lot about my emotions. I would recommend to anyone, who likes literature that is tender, but at the same time drastic.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    I gave this book 5 stars, but I didn't enjoy it. If a book can move me the way this one moved me, I consider it a great book. However, I felt so bad for the characters in this set of 3 short stories (one in particular) that I finished it literally feeling angry! I was glad to finish it. I gave this book 5 stars, but I didn't enjoy it. If a book can move me the way this one moved me, I consider it a great book. However, I felt so bad for the characters in this set of 3 short stories (one in particular) that I finished it literally feeling angry! I was glad to finish it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Books with Brittany

    Absolutely brilliant. A favorite of the year

  11. 5 out of 5

    Raquel

    ENGLISH / SPANISH-- The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir. Warning: do not read this if you can't stand unlikeable characters. For the rest of you: don't miss this. In a current world where readers demand strong female role-models, the so-called "badass" heroines (kick-ass, fierce, strong...), it might seem weird to read about the thoughts and reflections of women passed their 40's and even in their 60's, full of flaws, of doubts, of failures. But these are the exact same lives that will mak ENGLISH / SPANISH-- The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir. Warning: do not read this if you can't stand unlikeable characters. For the rest of you: don't miss this. In a current world where readers demand strong female role-models, the so-called "badass" heroines (kick-ass, fierce, strong...), it might seem weird to read about the thoughts and reflections of women passed their 40's and even in their 60's, full of flaws, of doubts, of failures. But these are the exact same lives that will make us question more things we wouldn't have dared before (or not even thought of), and even recognize some patterns in our own lives or in the ones surrounding us. This book consists of three short novellas: The Age of Discretion, The Monologue, and The Woman Destroyed, told by 3 very different women. I don't want to give up anything, so let's just say that the three of them are by far one of the most believable voices I've ever read. Fascinating and scary. De Beauvoir's insight into their minds is astonishing. In De Beauvoir own words: "The Woman Destroyed is the shocked victim of a life that she herself chose: a conjugal dependence that leaves her stripped of everything and of her own self when love is denied to her. It would be useless to find morals or propose lessons in these stories, no, my intention has been very different. We do not live more than one single life, but, for sympathy, it is sometimes possible to leave our own skin. I am supportive of women who have taken over their lives and have struggled to achieve their goals; but that does not stop me, on the contrary, of being interested in the ones that, for one reason or another, have failed; and, in general, in that part of failure that can be found in every existence." (I've done this translation myself - sorry if I made any mistakes!). A very important read. ----ESPAÑOL---- En la actualidad, existe una alta demanda de heroínas, personajes de mujeres (jóvenes por lo general, curiosamente) descritas como fuertes, modelos a seguir. Desde el mundo anglosajón nos llega el "girl power", las "badass female characters": con arcos, domadoras de dragones, supercerebros varios. Puede resultar, por lo tanto, extraña la idea de leer extractos de la vida y de los pensamientos de tres mujeres de 40 y 60 años, llenos de miedos, dudas, fracasos. No obstante, opino que es precisamente con esta clase de vidas con las que nos haremos preguntas, cuestiones que no nos atrevíamos a plantear o que simplemente no habían pasado por nuestras cabezas. "La mujer rota" contiene tres relatos breves: La edad de la discreción, Monólogo y, finalmente, La mujer rota. Y qué mejor que las propias palabras de De Beauvoir para hablar de ellos: "He querido hacer escuchar aquí las voces de tres mujeres que se debaten con palabras en situaciones sin salida. Una tropieza con una ineluctable fatalidad, la de la edad. La segunda conjura por medio de un monólogo parafrénico la soledad a donde la ha arrojado su egoísmo exacerbado. La mujer rota es la víctima estupefacta de la vida que ella misma se eligió: una dependencia conyugal que la deja despojada de todo y de su ser mismo cuando el amor le es rehusado. Sería en vano buscar moralejas en estos relatos; proponer lecciones, no; mi intención ha sido totalmente diferente. No se vive más que una sola vida, pero, por la simpatía, a veces es posible salirse de la propia piel. He querido comunicar a mis lectores ciertas experiencias de las cuales participé de esa manera. Me siento solidaria de las mujeres que han asumido su vida y que luchan por lograr sus objetivos; pero eso no me impide -al contrario- interesarme por aquellas que, de un modo u otro, han fracasado, y, en general, por esa parte de fracaso que hay en toda existencia. Es preferible no desvelar mucho más y que cada lector los descubra por sí mismo, basta con decir que estos relatos ofrecen tres de las voces más auténticas y creíbles que he leído jamás. El poder de Beauvoir para adentrarse en sus mentes es impresionante, lo cual se refleja en las diferentes técnicas narrativas empleadas. Por otro lado, resulta llamativo como, a pesar haber sido escritos a finales de los años 60, todos reconoceremos en estos relatos, especialmente en "La mujer rota" a mujeres de nuestro entorno: nuestras madres, las madres de nuestros conocidos, vecinas o familiares (como mucho, basta con inflar un poco sus edades. las etapas de la vida se han retrasado algo, al fin y al cabo, para reconocer patrones exactos). Ello hace de este libro no solo una lectura fascinante, sino muy relevante.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    "All around me the world lies like an immense hypothesis that I no longer verify." I found myself in a reading slump, so I left my personal library and wandered into the public library of my new city; there, I ran across this collection. I enjoyed reading these cleverly worded paragraphs, the shape of Beauvoir's sentences, the intensity wrapped in lucid lines. Her characters make sense of life on the page and when they discover the why in the actions of others, the reader is invited along for the "All around me the world lies like an immense hypothesis that I no longer verify." I found myself in a reading slump, so I left my personal library and wandered into the public library of my new city; there, I ran across this collection. I enjoyed reading these cleverly worded paragraphs, the shape of Beauvoir's sentences, the intensity wrapped in lucid lines. Her characters make sense of life on the page and when they discover the why in the actions of others, the reader is invited along for the journey. There is something special about entering the consciousness of another and exploring things about the world; the loss of passion and intimacy; the rediscovery of self and body. There are three stories in this collection but I preferred The Age of Discretion and The Woman Destroyed for their sensory movement, pacing and character transformation. Unfortunately, The Monologue's structure didn't keep me grounded.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Arja Salafranca

    Three stories, 'The Age of Discretion', 'Monologue' and 'The Woman Destroyed' make up this volume. 'The Age of Discretion' deals with ageing, loss, and a woman's refusal to accept her son's career choice as she stares down the tunnel of age. 'Monologue' was unreadable, a woman's rant through New Year's eve celebrations, she's in her forties, all alone, bitter, twisted. By far the most powerful piece was 'The Woman Destroyed'. Monique is forty-four, happy in her long marriage to Maurice. The nove Three stories, 'The Age of Discretion', 'Monologue' and 'The Woman Destroyed' make up this volume. 'The Age of Discretion' deals with ageing, loss, and a woman's refusal to accept her son's career choice as she stares down the tunnel of age. 'Monologue' was unreadable, a woman's rant through New Year's eve celebrations, she's in her forties, all alone, bitter, twisted. By far the most powerful piece was 'The Woman Destroyed'. Monique is forty-four, happy in her long marriage to Maurice. The novella takes the form of her diary entries. Then she discovers that Maurice is having an affair. A friend counsels her to play it cool, to let the affair play its course, and then Maurice will come back to her. But far from playing it cool, or trying not to give in to jealousy, Monique finds that she cannot let Maurice have his affair without feeling jealous, unhappy, and understandably full of rage. A brilliant, heart-felt piece.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    Although this book was published in 1967 (and the three pieces written at different times), the book this reminded me of most - almost serves as a precedent to - is Ferrante's The Days of Abandonment. With her focus firmly on the inner lives of three women, de Beauvoir somehow manages to be coolly analytical while still conjuring the searing emotions that both make and unmake her female protagonists. With two short pieces followed by the novella 'The Woman Destroyed', she charts commonalities: w Although this book was published in 1967 (and the three pieces written at different times), the book this reminded me of most - almost serves as a precedent to - is Ferrante's The Days of Abandonment. With her focus firmly on the inner lives of three women, de Beauvoir somehow manages to be coolly analytical while still conjuring the searing emotions that both make and unmake her female protagonists. With two short pieces followed by the novella 'The Woman Destroyed', she charts commonalities: women who live through others, who lose touch with their inner selves, who collapse into depression (or, in one case, a kind of pathological malice) when their props are removed or flawed. Betrayals are everywhere: from sons and daughters, from husbands and friends, from life itself. But it's interesting that the same woman who finds freedom in having a week to herself while her husband is away at a business conference, is destroyed when she finds that he's been having an affair: the self-construction is striking - freedom is contingent on an overriding super-structure of being a wife-and-mother: take away that primary identity and Monique is adrift. De Beauvoir plays with narrative form: a 1st person narrative, an inner monologue, a diary - and the three pieces build up an image of women and their fragile sense of identity and belonging. This isn't as compelling for me as either her wonderful, immense The Mandarins or the taut She Came to Stay (must re-read!) but sits somewhere between her best fiction and her memoirs and non-fiction.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    loved reading about depressed french women

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nilguen

    „La femme rompue“, The Woman Destroyed, written by one of the most controversial feminists, Simone de Beauvoir, was originally published in 1967. Her impeccable writing style full of wits and eloquence and my curiosity on how the stories of 3 different women would end has kept me digging deeper...so deep that it partially served Madame de Beauvoir’s purpose for her readers: According to the author, there isn’t a morale to the stories nor are there any lessons to be learnt. De Beauvoir wants her „La femme rompue“, The Woman Destroyed, written by one of the most controversial feminists, Simone de Beauvoir, was originally published in 1967. Her impeccable writing style full of wits and eloquence and my curiosity on how the stories of 3 different women would end has kept me digging deeper...so deep that it partially served Madame de Beauvoir’s purpose for her readers: According to the author, there isn’t a morale to the stories nor are there any lessons to be learnt. De Beauvoir wants her readers to partake in the experiences of 3 women who are in misery and dilemma, which they are trying to get out of to find their own happiness (if there is any at all, as we get to acknowledge that there isn’t a ‘universal key’ to happiness after all). Her stories are so emotional and so articulate that I couldn’t do anything, but deeply empathise with these women, feeling their frustration about life, their situations and their angst what the future may hold for them. The riddle of men and women and their relationships is an omnipresent topic throughout centuries, and these stories are not even that remote to some of our current societal problems women face: - Pressure of ageing - Giving up career for the sake of kids and husband - Kids & husband gone leaving a 44-years old Monique absolutely with nothing just to mention one example. Honestly, I don’t know what rode me into reading this book, though I am very glad that I did read it, but even the merrier to have finished it ;)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Topf

    I am the type of person who loves characters above all. I want very human figures and I want to feel with them and I want them to surprise me and remind of of the fact that no formula is ever going to let me understand what an individual is. But this depth and this humanity cannot end up on the extreme of randomness. Simone de Beauvoir's third story in this book has had me thinking about the protagonist of the story for weeks. I felt so strong for her. I worried about her. I asked myself and her I am the type of person who loves characters above all. I want very human figures and I want to feel with them and I want them to surprise me and remind of of the fact that no formula is ever going to let me understand what an individual is. But this depth and this humanity cannot end up on the extreme of randomness. Simone de Beauvoir's third story in this book has had me thinking about the protagonist of the story for weeks. I felt so strong for her. I worried about her. I asked myself and her and the world "Why?". That figure is more of a human being than actual people I know. This book has triggered a complete and unsatiable hunger for reading her work. Loved it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    juli

    so basically don’t get married, don’t have kids, don’t grow old. got it !

  19. 4 out of 5

    The Escapist Reader

    3.5 out of 5 stars The missing stars are due to the homophobic remarks and slurs strewn throughout the book that, although read in context, are still offensive to the modern reader. Happy reading!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Roxana Chirilă

    Once upon a time, I was on the train and this old woman (perhaps seventy years of age) started sharing her life experience with me. She said, "Girl, I realized early on that no matter how sweet and caring and loving a man is, when it comes to sex, they're all brutes. They can't control themselves, they have no finesse, they're brutal. My husband, he loved me so much and he was the kindest man, but in bed he was an animal. I was afraid of him." It was heart-breaking. You can tell a woman in her tw Once upon a time, I was on the train and this old woman (perhaps seventy years of age) started sharing her life experience with me. She said, "Girl, I realized early on that no matter how sweet and caring and loving a man is, when it comes to sex, they're all brutes. They can't control themselves, they have no finesse, they're brutal. My husband, he loved me so much and he was the kindest man, but in bed he was an animal. I was afraid of him." It was heart-breaking. You can tell a woman in her twenties that her boyfriend is abusing, you can tell a woman in her thirties that she's been lied to. You cannot tell an old lady that she suffered needlessly, that sex can be enjoyed, that men can be good and caring in bed. I wanted to cry, but I let her go on until the end, saying nothing, knowing that to dispel the lie at this point would be to break her. That's how real life is: insane, and people have the strangest stories and any number of sides and passions. If you dig a bit, everyone can say something that will take your breath away. Simone de Beauvoir's stories, in this anthology, have an ounce of realism, as it's understood in the modern world: generic, every-woman tales that you might hear on a train ride somewhere. But perhaps I've heard too many tales told by real women, because these failed to impress. Sure, they remind me of women I know, but in an annoying, futile, depressing, somewhat generic manner. The problem with this sort of realism is that, as it intends to stay away from sugar-coated, comforting, perhaps shocking stories, it falls into despair, gloom and non-special situations. It's on the polar opposite of the spectrum of reality, turning life gray and pressuring, soaking up its strange incidents and particular details. It doesn't make it more *real* than "They lived happily ever after", just more likely to be taken as such.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alexi

    Reading this book feels like a smaller death. I decided to start with the title story, though I don't know that I can go on. It's so intimate and enraging and powerful and devastating. It's probably a bad choice, given the time in my life, to suffer through this honest little bit of literature, however now that I've started it's hard to stop. I hope it doesn't ruin me. Read this story when you feel stable. Reading this book feels like a smaller death. I decided to start with the title story, though I don't know that I can go on. It's so intimate and enraging and powerful and devastating. It's probably a bad choice, given the time in my life, to suffer through this honest little bit of literature, however now that I've started it's hard to stop. I hope it doesn't ruin me. Read this story when you feel stable.

  22. 5 out of 5

    paige

    I have yet to read a piece of French literature that isn't absolutely devastating. The Woman Destroyed chronicles three women all suffering an undoing of sorts: in The Age of Discretion, a young academic receives an abysmal and bitter outcome with her latest work, The Monologue presents a pretentious and spiteful woman whose family had just left home, and lastly The Woman Destroyed, the longest of novellas, depicts Monique's struggles with her husband's recent affair with a younger woman. Simone I have yet to read a piece of French literature that isn't absolutely devastating. The Woman Destroyed chronicles three women all suffering an undoing of sorts: in The Age of Discretion, a young academic receives an abysmal and bitter outcome with her latest work, The Monologue presents a pretentious and spiteful woman whose family had just left home, and lastly The Woman Destroyed, the longest of novellas, depicts Monique's struggles with her husband's recent affair with a younger woman. Simone de Beauvoir toys with the image of female hysteria, desolation, and jealousy through her lovely prose and language. As a member of the Existentialist movement in the twentieth century alongside Jean-Paul Sartre, she has skilfully incorporated various Existentialist themes throughout all three stories as her characters are experiencing what it means to be unwanted, useless, and cast aside by the ones that they love most. I absolutely loved this one—it's extremely poignant, moving, and masterfully written.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Edita

    What an odd thing a diary is: the things you omit are more important than those you put in. * And I saw that words say nothing. Rages, nightmares, horror—words cannot encompass them. I set things down on paper when I recover strength, either in despair or in hope. But the feeling of total bewilderment, of stunned stupidity, of falling apart—these pages do not contain them. And then these pages lie so—they get things so wrong. * I have taken to my pen again not to go back over the same ground but bec What an odd thing a diary is: the things you omit are more important than those you put in. * And I saw that words say nothing. Rages, nightmares, horror—words cannot encompass them. I set things down on paper when I recover strength, either in despair or in hope. But the feeling of total bewilderment, of stunned stupidity, of falling apart—these pages do not contain them. And then these pages lie so—they get things so wrong. * I have taken to my pen again not to go back over the same ground but because the emptiness within me, around me, is so vast that this movement of my hand is necessary to tell myself that I am still alive. * This love between us was real: it was solid—as indestructible as truth. Only there was time going by and I—I did not know it. The river of time, the erosion caused by the river’s current: there you have it—there has been an erosion of his love by the flow of time. But why not of mine, too, in that case?

  24. 4 out of 5

    arabela

    The last part of the book drew me in completely. WOW.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Although all three stories in this collection are about women between 40 and 65 facing some kind of crisis, and all of them are exquisitely written, they are otherwise very different. In the first story, the narrator, a successful literary analyst, must come to terms with the fact that her son does not really share the dreams she has for him and is no longer under her influence. At the same time, her latest book bombs, and begins to doubt everything in her life. The story ends on an uplifting no Although all three stories in this collection are about women between 40 and 65 facing some kind of crisis, and all of them are exquisitely written, they are otherwise very different. In the first story, the narrator, a successful literary analyst, must come to terms with the fact that her son does not really share the dreams she has for him and is no longer under her influence. At the same time, her latest book bombs, and begins to doubt everything in her life. The story ends on an uplifting note, however, when she realizes her husband is still very much there for her, and that they can still live fulfilling lives in their old age. The second story is rant by a women alone on New Year's Eve. A lot of people seem to find this one hard to read. I thought so too, until I gave it a rest for a day and picked it up again. It reminds me of Faulkner's style in As I Lay Dying. Initially I found the rant amusing (she rakes everybody in her life over the coals), but it soon becomes quite dark when you realize she most-likely drove her teen-aged daughter to suicide. Finally, the third story broke my heart. Monique, the protagonist,feels quite happy in her role as wife, mother and homemaker, having given up her budding medical career in the early days of her relationship with her husband. And then he tells her he's been cheating on her. The enormity of his deception comes out in bits and pieces, and by the end you see that family and friends initially sympathetic to Monique abandon her as she sinks deeper and deeper into depression. I really wanted to shake her and several points in the narrative, while feeling terribly sorry for her at the same time.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Txell

    This time around my favorite of the short stories was the first one, probably bc I’m going through an age crisis myself😌 Also, for an even more painful experience listen to “Tolerate it” by Taylor Swift after you’ve read The woman destroyed and think about its MC. You’re welcome @Annari <33 And no, in the end I could not bring myself to reread the monologue.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    I really liked the short stories in When Things of the Spirit Come First so I read these three stories. They are all from the perspectives of older women who are dealing with doubt and change. I couldn't get into the first 2, and, though I felt more for the woman in the third one, whose husband gradually cheats on her and then leaves her, it was frustrating to read because I really wanted her to find herself again in the midst of all the difficulty and she never does. Well, maybe at the end ther I really liked the short stories in When Things of the Spirit Come First so I read these three stories. They are all from the perspectives of older women who are dealing with doubt and change. I couldn't get into the first 2, and, though I felt more for the woman in the third one, whose husband gradually cheats on her and then leaves her, it was frustrating to read because I really wanted her to find herself again in the midst of all the difficulty and she never does. Well, maybe at the end there is a chance that she does, so I guess I can feel hopeful. I think the story is effective because it really gets to this idea of how hard change is for people, especially when they have spend years and years assuming certain things (like about LOVE) about themselves and other people and then change happens and they don't see it or get overwhelmed by it. I guess it was a good reminder that nothing is permanent, that it's a bad idea to rest on what you think you have and stop living and growing, but I don't really recommend it... I just think there are nicer ways to remind ourselves of this truth.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Libre Livre

    Officially one of my favorite reads EVER. Top 10 easily. Will have to rediscover these three stories in the original french. I am overawed. I will miss de Beauvoir’s spellbinding prose and perfectly imperfect characters.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ipsa

    This is peak phenomenological literature, mundanity in its excruciating heaviness; something that makes you want to eat the sun, munch on the cherry blossoms, hoping you'd get to the essence of things. Though a tad bit underwhelming. This is peak phenomenological literature, mundanity in its excruciating heaviness; something that makes you want to eat the sun, munch on the cherry blossoms, hoping you'd get to the essence of things. Though a tad bit underwhelming.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dante

    Consider me a woman, destroyed

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