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Most widely known as the author of The Second Sex ([1949] 1989) and the intellectual and sexual partner of Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986) was a novelist and essayist as well as a feminist theorist and philosopher. Born and educated in private schools in Paris, Beauvoir passed the Sorbonne's agrégation, its difficult final examination, when she was 21 years old. Her thesis there was on Leibniz. From 1931 to 1941, she taught school in Marseille and Rouen. Between 1941 and 1943, she taught at the Sorbonne. Widely traveled and influential in her day, Beauvoir was a feminist public intellectual.

Beauvoir's best-known book helped to launch the second wave of feminism. Together with Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique (1963), The Second Sex stimulated feminist thought and ...

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