THE SECOND SEX is a hymn to human freedom and a classic of the existentialist movement. It also has claims to be the most important s ingle book in the history of feminism. In the forty years since its publication De Beauvoir's then revolutionary thesis - that the subordination of women is not a fact of nature but the product of social conditioning has become part of our everyday thinking.
Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris in 1908. In 1929 she became the youngest person ever to obtain the agregation in philosophy at the Sorbonne, placing second to Jean-Paul Sartre. She taught at the lycees at Marseille and Rouen from 1931-1937, and in Paris from 1938-1943. After the war, she emerged as one of the leaders of the existentialist movement, working with Sartre on Les Temps Mordernes. The author of several books including The Mandarins (1957) which was awarded the Prix Goncourt, de Beauvoir was one of the most influential thinkers of her generation. She died in 1986. Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier have lived in Paris for over forty years and are both graduates of Rutgers University, New Jersey. Borde was on the faculty of the Institut d'Etudes Politiques and has been chair and vice-chair of American Democrats Abroad. Malovany-Chevallier was a full- time faculty member at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques and continues to teach American literature. They have been translating books and articles on social science, art and feminist literature for twenty-five years and have jointly authored numerous books in French on subjects ranging from grammar to politics to American cooking.