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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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(p.1) Introduction
On ne naît pas femme: on le devient

Bonnie Mann

Oxford University Press

This chapter introduces the central controversy that gave rise to this book project, one over the correct translation and interpretation of Beauvoir’s most famous sentence: “On ne naît pas femme: on le devient.” The history of the scandal of the first English translation of Le Duexième Sexe is recounted to provide context for the current conflict. The philosophical stakes of the conflict are spelled out in terms of the status of “social construction” as a theory of sexual difference. Tensions over the English translation open the way to asking bigger questions about philosophical meaning and translational practice across a number of language contexts.

Keywords:   Key words, Beauvoir, The Second Sex, translation, social construction, feminist phenomenology, Parshley, Borde and Malovany-Chevallier

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