On March 31, Toril Moi will give a lecture at the University of Chicago, entitled “‘To make them other, and face them’: Literature, Philosophy and Simone de Beauvoir’s ‘The Woman Destroyed.'” — The lecture is organized by the Center for Gender Studies, and will take place at 4:30 p.m. in Room 110 in The Classics Building (1010 East 59th Street, Chicago, IL).
Here is a brief description of the talk: In her memoirs, Beauvoir famously complained that both the critics and her women readers had misread “The Woman Destroyed.” The critics hated it, since they took it to be a sentimental romance for women (the story was serialized in Elle in the fall of 1967). The readers of Elle loved it, much for the same reason. Toril Moi will reconsider the reception and ask what it can tell us about a more satisfying way of reading this short story. By comparing “The Woman Destroyed” to Beauvoir’s well received first novel, She Came to Stay (L’Invitée, 1943), she will bring out the philosophical and feminist interest of this underestimated text.
If anyone wants to do background reading for the lecture, they should read Simone de Beauvoir’s short story “The Woman Destroyed” (“La Femme rompue”) in the volume of the same title. Those who are really interested in Beauvoir’s fiction should also read L’Invitée (translated as She Came to Stay).