Simone De Beauvoir's Letters To Violette Leduc Sold At Auction For €56,700

 Feminist thinker and writer Simone De Beauvoir’s letters to French novelist Violette Leduc were sold by Auction company Sotheby’s for €56,700 (approx Rs 50, 93,758)

Ratan Priya
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Simone De Beauvoir letters

Well-known feminist thinker and writer Simone De Beauvoir’s letters to French novelist Violette Leduc were sold by Auction company Sotheby’s for €56,700 (approx Rs 50, 93,758). In those 297 letters exchanged between 1945 to 1972, the two writers exchanged thoughts on unrequited love and friendship. Sotheby’s describe them as "a complex and ambiguous relationship where unrequited passion and mistrust mingle".


The author of The Second Sex Simone De Beauvoir demonstrated utmost support and friendship for Leduc as she called her “the most interesting women I know”. According to the Guardian, most of those letters were unpublished until now and they not only depict the complex relationship between these two women but give many historical details.

Leduc had confessed her love for Beauvoir at a very early stage of their friendship. Even though Beauvoir never really reciprocated the same feelings, she always stood by Leduc in her support through her words and actions. The letters were sent from different corners of the world be it US, Italy, Greece, the USSR and Iceland and Cuba over such a long period. This only proves how relationships are not dependent on time and distance.

Beauvoir even in her rejection to Leduc’s love maintained her tenderness. She wrote, “Despite my colossal indifference, I was very moved by your letter and your journal. You tell me about my loyalty, I admire yours. I believe that thanks to our mutual esteem and trust, we will achieve a balance in our relations.”

“It is strange to find out that you are so precious to someone: you know that you are never precious to yourself; there is a mirage effect there which will certainly dissipate quickly. In any case, this feeling can not bother me more than flatter me … I would like you not to be afraid of me any more, that you get rid of all this fearful side which seems to me so unjustified. I respect you too much for this kind of mistrust, of apprehension, to have any reason to exist,” she added.

When Leduc talked about this rejection later in her writings, she wrote, “She has explained that the feeling I have for her is a mirage. I don’t agree.” Leduc struggled most her of life to gain the recognition she deserved all along. Her phenomenal novel, Ravages was rejected and ridiculed because the 1950s was not ready for a novel about lesbianism. Beauvoir being the true friend showered Leduc with praise in a letter. She wrote,I am wholeheartedly with you in this struggle which you are leading so courageously to write, to live; I admire your energy, I would like this sincere, deep esteem to help you a little.”

She even criticised the publishers, Gallimard, who called Ravages “obscene”, for their “prudery” and “their lack of courage”. When Leduc went through tough times, Beauvoir paid for her to get institutional help. In a letter written from Greece in 1956, Beauvoir expressed, “It saddens me to think of you there, locked in that room, despite all your courage.”

Also read: Mothers And Daughters Immortalised In Fiction

When Violette Leduc finally achieved mainstream recognition for her memoir La Bâtarde in 1964, Beauvoir wrote a glowing introduction in her book. Leduc lost her battle with breast cancer eight years later. In 2000, Leduc's Ravages released again without any censorship but she wasn’t there to see her novel giving voice to so many women around the world.

Simone de Beauvoir 297 Letters Auctioned Simone De Beauvoir letters Violette Leduc