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Martine Guyot-Bender

Guyot-Bender Contributes Article to German Journal Lendemains

Posted January 7, 2009
Tags French Martine Guyot-Bender
Professor of French Martine Guyot-Bender contributed "'Les belles images': 'Sottisier,' roman prémonitoire ou récit universel?" to a special issue of German journal of French Comparative Studies, Lendemains, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Simone de Beauvoir's birth in 2008. The article examines the social content of Les belles images (1967), one of de Beauvoir's least-appreciated novels which was, at the time it was published, rebuked by critics and readers (as readers' letters attest) and somewhat ridiculed by de Beauvoir herself who downplayed its content by calling it a "sottisier" (from the French "sottise," "silliness").
 
Reading Les belles images 40 years later reveals a layer of significance that mid-'60s readers' may have purposefully ignored, and that de Beauvoir may have been hesitant to claim more openly: indeed, in insight, the novel implicitly criticizes the hypocrisy of contemporary technocrats and intellectuals in face of poverty, war and social injustices caused by growing consumerism, a group who constituted Beauvoir's main readership, the bread and butter of her stardom. 

Many of Guyot-Bender's students are very familiar with Les belles images, a novel she has used as the main text in her French 200 class, and for which she has written a workbook (unpublished so far). Most of her HCJYF students have also visited Simone de Beauvoir's and Jean-Paul Sartre's common grave in the Cimetière du Montparnasse, a few blocks away from the HCJYF headquarters, rue de Chevreuse, in Paris.

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