It is in solitude that being shows its worth

Simone de Beauvoir in 1967
Photo by Moshe Milner

When she wrote the following entry in her diary, 18-year-old Simone de Beauvoir was on the cusp of adulthood and soon to begin studying philosophy at the Sorbonne. Born into an upper-middle-class family in Paris, even at this early age the seeds of her introspective nature and existential concerns were evident. The Sorbonne would introduce her not only to the intricacies of philosophy but also to Jean-Paul Sartre, with whom she would form a deep intellectual and romantic bond. de Beauvoir would go on to become an iconic figure in both existentialism and feminism, authoring numerous influential works, the most notable being The Second Sex, a groundbreaking exploration of women’s oppression.

The Diary Entry

August 9

Could I have already during this year explored my entire soul, and is there no longer anything in me that interests me? Such indifference, such great disgust, is such lassitude natural or the proof that I am incurably mediocre? It is in solitude that being shows its worth.

Further Reading

This entry comes from Diary of a Philosophy Student Volume 1, 1926-27. Translation by Barbara Klaw. Edited by Barbara Klaw, Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir, and Margaret A. Simons, with the assistance of Marybeth Timmermann. Published by University of Illinois Press in 2006.


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