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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 November 2020

While We Wait

While We Wait

The English Translation of The Second Sex

(p.71) 4 While We Wait
On ne naît pas femme: on le devient

Toril Moi

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   H. M. Parshley, Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, translation, Alfred A. Knopf, subjectivity, alienation, feminist philosophy

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