A Very Easy Death has long been considered one of Simone de Beauvoir’s masterpieces. The profoundly moving, day-by-day recounting of her mother’s death “shows the power of compassion when it is allied with acute intelligence” (The Sunday Telegraph). Powerful, touching, and sometimes shocking, this is an end-of-life account that no reader is likely to forget.
Translated by Patrick O'Brian
SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR was born in Paris in 1908. In 1929 she became the youngest person ever to obtain the agrégation in philosophy at the Sorbonne, placing second on the exam to Jean-Paul Sartre. She taught at lycées in Marseille and Rousen from 1931 to 1937, and in Paris from 1938 to 1943. After World War II, she emerged as one of the leaders of the existentialist movement, working with Sartre on Les Temps Modernes. The author of many acclaimed works, de Beauvoir was one of the most influential thinkers of her generation. She died in 1986.
“This book is written with restrained emotion and a literalness, a faithfulness to fact, that is very moving coming from a woman whom we have known as dedicated to abstractions. This is a difficult book to read as it must have been a difficult book to write . . . Unsparing in its depiction of a human being in her inevitable encounter with extinction, it illustrates the general tragedy of the human condition through a particularized instance. A book of near despair, yet dignified.”