“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman": First Edition of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex; Signed by Her

  • The Second Sex.

The Second Sex.


Item Number: 21090

New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953.

First edition in English of the author’s masterpiece. Octavo, original half cloth. Signed by Simone de Beauvoir on the title page. Fine in a very good dust jacket with light rubbing and wear to the extremities. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Signed first editions of this classic work are rare and none have appeared at auction in the last sixty years.

In 1946, Simone de Beauvoir began to outline what she thought would be an autobiographical essay explaining why, when she had tried to define herself, the first sentence that came to mind was “I am a woman.” That October, my maiden aunt, Beauvoir’s contemporary, came to visit me in the hospital nursery. I was a day old, and she found a little tag on my bassinet that announced, “It’s a Girl!” In the next bassinet was another newborn (“a lot punier,” she recalled), whose little tag announced, “I’m a Boy!” There we lay, innocent of a distinction— between a female object and a male subject— that would shape our destinies. It would also shape Beauvoir’s great treatise on the subject. The Second Sex deals with the treatment of women throughout history and is regarded as a major work of feminist philosophy and the starting point of second-wave feminism. Literary scholar Camille Paglia praised The Second Sex, calling it "brilliant" and "the supreme work of modern feminism." Named by Modern Library as one of top 100 books of non- fiction of the twentieth century. Also named by The Times Literary Supplement as one of the most hundred influential books since World War II.

Ask a Question