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On ne naît pas femme: on le devientThe Life of a Sentence$
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Bonnie Mann and Martina Ferrari

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190608811

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190608811.001.0001

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The Adulteress Wife

The Adulteress Wife

Chapter:
(p.103) 5 The Adulteress Wife
Source:
On ne naît pas femme: on le devient
Author(s):

Toril Moi

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190608811.003.0006

Nearly 20 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, and chronicled the long and still-unsuccessful struggle with Alfred Knopf for a new translation/scholarly edition. Moi showed that “the philosophical incompetence of the translation produces a text that is damaging to Beauvoir’s intellectual reputation in particular and to the reputation of feminist philosophy in general” by detailing Parshley’s silent deletions of sentences and parts of sentences, his tendency to turn existence into essence, misread philosophical references to “subjectivity”, remain clueless about references to Hegel, and misunderstand Beauvoir’s account of alienation. These failures falsely emboldened Beauvoir’s critics by eliminating nuance from key discussions of themes like motherhood. “Her works will not enter the public domain until 2056,” Moi pointed out, and the stubborn refusal of the publisher to commission a new translation meant that essays like this one were absolutely essential to teaching Beauvoir’s Second Sex to English speaking students—“while we wait.”

Keywords:   H. M. Parshley, Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, Le deuxième sexe, translation controversy, Alfred A. Knopf, Vintage, Margaret A. Simons, philosophical shortcomings of the Parshley translation, cuts and omissions, motherhood

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