While We Wait
While We Wait
The English Translation of The Second Sex
Nearly twenty years after Margaret Simons broke the news of the scandal of the English translation of Le deuxième sexe, Toril Moi’s 2002 essay deepened feminist claims in relation to Parshley’s translation. This reprint chronicles the long and at that time unsuccessful struggle with Alfred Knopf for a new translation/scholarly edition. Moi showed that “the philosophical incompetence” of the translation damaged both de Beauvoir’s reputation and that of feminist philosophy by detailing Parshley’s silent deletions of sentences and parts of sentences, his tendency to turn “existence” into “essence,” misreading of philosophical references to “subjectivity,” botched references to Hegel, misunderstanding of Beauvoir’s account of alienation, and elimination of nuance from key discussions of themes like motherhood. Since de Beauvoir’s works will not enter public domain until 2056, the refusal of the publisher to commission a new translation meant that essays like this one were essential to teaching Beauvoir’s Second Sex to English-speaking students.
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