Reading: Letters to Sartre

“Of course, it had long been manifest that De Beauvoir’s own account of her life had been ruthlessly censored, pruned and sanitized to present the public facade she deemed fitting.” – Introduction to Simone De Beauvoir’s letters to John-Paul Sartre by Quintin Hoare, 1991

If you’ve read the letters, you know they are raw, sappy (my dear little being!) and reveal jealousies, passions and insecurities De Beauvoir never intended to be public. What’s interesting as I’m re-reading the letters is thinking about our modern correspondence – carefully considered tweets, status updates and instagram photos. When our histories are written, and all our children and grandchildren have are our social media streams, how much of us–the real us–will they reveal? Will they look at our digital words as our public lives (sanitized) or our private lives (raw, honest)? Or some other semi-private, third space?

 

7 Comments

  1. Sue J.
    September 26, 2012

    well said regarding the legacy to our children. but i’d like to think proper spelling counts for something :)

    Reply
  2. özlem
    September 26, 2012

    i hope it will be translate to Turkish.

    Reply
  3. Kimberly
    September 27, 2012

    Definitely something to think about. Crafting tweets, posts and building a brand helps present the best of me. I try to be open and honest on my blog so does that mean I will fall someplace in between? The third space? Hmm…

    Reply
    • Nichole
      September 27, 2012

      Hi Kimberly!

      I’ve been thinking about this all day, and I don’t think that it’s about dishonesty, but rather the parts of us we wish to share, and how that would shape someone’s opinion of us 20, 30, 40 years from now.

      Simone’s letters revealed parts of her she clearly chose not to share. And we all have parts we don’t share (with good reason). Public vs. private life used to be an issue for celebs or those in the public eye. Now we are all in the public eye in a sense thanks to social media. I am interested in how that will change our behaviors and how we’re perceived in hindsight.

      Reply
  4. Jess
    September 27, 2012

    Hi Nichole, you make such an interesting point. It will be interesting to see how we’re all perceived in years to come through the lens of social media. There is something to be said for the honesty of a private letter. When it’s in a public forum as honest as we try to be I imagine there is some level of filter applied knowing we are potentially addressing a large audience. Jx

    Reply
  5. christine | The Plumed Nest
    September 27, 2012

    i haven’t read this but i am wanting to, right now. this looks like the perfect fall book to snuggle up with.

    what a question you pose! i am in my 30′s so social media is still relatively new for me. while my work is online and i blog and so much of my life is online, i still prefer hand-written letters and cards, paper books and magazines and things that won’t be lost forever if the power goes out. so i am constantly trying to find the balance of online and offline. i do wonder about younger generations too, that will really know no different! i wonder if the pendulum will ever swing back or if written letters and paper books will someday cease to exist? i hope not!

    Reply
  6. jen
    October 5, 2012

    I continue to marvel at the independent spirit of Simone de Beauvoir. How does one find it? I admire her work so much, but more how she lived and loved. She had great resignation without regret.

    Reply

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