Salon-Haunters: The Impasse Facing French Intellectuals

In Sally Scholz & Shannon Mussett (eds.), The Contradictions of Freedom: Philosophical Essays on Simone de Beauvoir's the Mandarins. SUNY Press. pp. 211-226 (2005)
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Beauvoir maintains a unified "compromise theory" of aesthetics throughout her ethics, feminism, and fiction that portrays the conundrum that every artist faces -- an impasse that sets action against inaction, politics against culture. Beauvoir's theory of art in The Mandarins, aided by an analysis of women's oppression in The Second Sex, advocates art that keeps past events alive in the present and in so doing, changes even the tragic into the life affirming. Beauvoir lauds artists who, even in the face of self-doubt, continue to engage in artistic endeavors in order to maintain an ethical relationship to the rest of humanity.
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