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I encountered A Very Easy Death twice before actually reading it The two encounters amounted to radically different readings of the same text My first encounter with A Very Easy Death was not exactly a reading but an abridgment of the book that appeared in an anthology entitled Mothers Memories, Dreams and Reflections by Literary Daughters edited by Susan Cahill The collection aims to present an array of well known women writers memories of their mothers depicted in positive tones and vivi I encountered A Very Easy Death twice before actually reading it The two encounters amounted to radically different readings of the same text My first encounter with A Very Easy Death was not exactly a reading but an abridgment of the book that appeared in an anthology entitled Mothers Memories, Dreams and Reflections by Literary Daughters edited by Susan Cahill The collection aims to present an array of well known women writers memories of their mothers depicted in positive tones and vivid colors xii The section from Beauvoir s book, recounts her mother s death from cancer Despite the general excellence of the anthology, I later found the abridgment of Beauvoir s text amounted to a bowdlerization the less positive aspects of their mother daughter relationship, and Beauvoir sexplicit descriptions the body parts, the private parts had all been removed The rest of the book, describing her mother s brutal illness and death, is also omitted Only the final pages of the book, where Beauvoir writes movingly of her mother s death and death in general, are again included.My second encounter with A Very Easy Death occurred when reading an article by Alice Jardine entitled Death Sentences Writing Couples and Ideology It was Jardine s article that prompted me to go back to Beauvoir s original text, because none of the quotes Jardine cited had appeared in the anthologized version of A Very Easy Death Unlike Susan Cahill, who edited the anthology to conform tosentimental notions of motherhood, Alice Jardine focuses specifically on how Beauvoir s mother is buried in and by narrative 93 , on Beauvoir s clinically explicit descriptions of her mother s cancerous, decomposing body In particular, Jardine cites the passage where Beauvoir has walked into the hospital room and suddenly sees her mother exposed by her open hospital nightdress In Jardine s quotation the dialogue between Beauvoir and her mother is deleted By deleting the dialogue and the introduction to the incident from her mother s perspective Maman had an open nightdress on and she did not mind that her wrinkled belly , Jardine specifically fore grounds the body of Beauvoir s mother Seeing my mother s sex organs is farstark than Patrick O Brien s translation done for the l965 English edition The sight of my mother s nakedness19 Jardine demonstrates that Beauvoir exposes her mother s body in words in order to evacuate the dangerous body, the poisoned body, so that she Beauvoir may continue to write 94 but then revalorizes her mother as phallic when she dreams, lying next to her mother in bed, that her mother has become Sartre In short, Jardine focuses on Beauvoir s descriptions of her mother s body while the Cahill anthology deletes the body in order to present a positive mother daughter relationship The body of the text literally Beauvoir s mother s body becomes the site of critical blindness and or insight The body is either seen or absent and the text has been variously called a masterpiece, indelicate, honest, moving, beautiful, and brutal A Very Easy Death arouses controversy because it is textually irritating It is neither a touching memorial or a caustic dissection of her mother s body Yet the intersection of clinical discourse and emotional asides a clash of logos and pathos makes a reader uneasy A mother s body, particularly a mother s dying body, may be eulogized or sentimentalized, but certainly not made sexually explicit When Beauvoir refers to her mother s bald pubis her sex organs she breaks taboos.In Stabat Mater, Julia Kristeva traces the taboos surrounding the mother s body back to the Virgin Mary the original mother in Western culture In short, the sight catches Beauvoir by surprise and forces her to confront all her ambivalence about the maternal body in general and her mother s body in particular Beauvoir s first reaction to the sight of her mother s sex organs is to turn away Conversely, the body of the mother, specifically the mother s vagina, underscores our helplessness, reminding us that we did not spring into the world as little gods When Beauvoir sees her mother, the site of origin, she also realizes she is seeing the end, for it is only in the extremities of death that her mother would cease being ashamed of her body This time, however, in opposition to her portrayal of her mother in Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, Beauvoir attempts to reconstruct her mother s history, re visioning her mother as a daughter, so that her mother may be understood as victim as well as perpetrator Importantly, Beauvoir does not withhold the unpleasant She still finds her mother somewhat stupid, often silly, and similarly refuses to idealize her disease her mother s cancer is described in relentless, clinical detail What Beauvoir starts in A Very Easy Death she does not finish The complex representation of her mother gets somewhat cast aside at the end of the book when Beauvoir retreats into general comments about death Yet, without sentiment, Beauvoir attempts to really see her mother, and in seeing her, sees herself Beauvoir is also forced, in caring for her mother, to radically shift perspectives As opposed to thegradual course Kathleen Woodward outlines, where a woman is first daughter to her mother, then mother to her daughter, and finally, as she grows olderbecomes mother to her mother Aging 96 , Beauvoir, childless, switches directly from a daughter to her mother to the mother of her mother Moreover, in this text Beauvoir crafts an autobiographical work where the portrayal of the daughter is not accomplished by simplifying and or effacing the mother Instead, Beauvoir s stark representation of her mother exceeds generic expectations, frays accepted cultural margins, and calls into question what may, can, and should be written about mothers From a prior publication Brief, poignant account of her mother s death. In A Very Easy Death, Simone De Beauvoir said, She her mother had a very easy death an upper class death But it wasn t an easy death In this frank account of her mother s struggle with intestinal cancer, Beauvoir not only reveals the struggle to release our loved ones but also the lies that we sometime perpetrate to spare them of suffering The process of dying was gruesome, even for her mother, who wanted to keep a stiff upper lip Worse were the doctors whose only goal was to keep the p In A Very Easy Death, Simone De Beauvoir said, She her mother had a very easy death an upper class death But it wasn t an easy death In this frank account of her mother s struggle with intestinal cancer, Beauvoir not only reveals the struggle to release our loved ones but also the lies that we sometime perpetrate to spare them of suffering The process of dying was gruesome, even for her mother, who wanted to keep a stiff upper lip Worse were the doctors whose only goal was to keep the patient alive, regardless of pain and suffering, both physical and emotional even when I was holding Maman s hand, I was not with her I was lying to her Her mother losing her dignity as a human being is one of the most disheartening parts of the account For many, like Beauvoir s mother, dying may be a far worse ordeal than death A must read for anyone who wants to prepare for and face death Simone De Beauvoir This should be compulsory reading for anyone that has suffered from or has a family member that suffers from or has suffered from cancer in the past ipso facto it should be compulsory reading for practically everyone The short book is a real life account of the last 30 days of Simone De B s mother and how she died of stomach cancer intestinal cancer to be precise The book was really really moving in places and yet the way Simone writes has a magic about it even in this morbid topic of death This should be compulsory reading for anyone that has suffered from or has a family member that suffers from or has suffered from cancer in the past ipso facto it should be compulsory reading for practically everyone The short book is a real life account of the last 30 days of Simone De B s mother and how she died of stomach cancer intestinal cancer to be precise The book was really really moving in places and yet the way Simone writes has a magic about it even in this morbid topic of death The desperateness with which her mother tries to cling to life in her dying days was very moving Everyone secretly probably thinks that they could endure it and that they are strong enough to face death but the simplicity with which Simone describes the way her once radiant and strong mother atrophies before her eyes is heart breaking There is a scene where she wakes up screaming from the bed sores in the middle of the night as acid and all sorts of other bodily fluids had started to leak out of her skin her already snakey and decaying rotten skin on her buttocks The nurses cannot keep giving her morphine because then when the real pain begins, they said its effect will have been depleted My own father died of cancer when I was about 15 and a lot of what Simone writes in this book reminds and puts those last days of his life in to perspective for me now A very short book and one that I would highly recommend you to read ( Free E-pub ) ☪ A Very Easy Death ♵ When my father died I did not cry at allI said to my sister, It will be the same for Maman I had understood all my sorrows up until that night even when they flowed over my head I recognized myself in them This time my despair escaped from my control someone other than myself was weeping in me Simone de Beauvoir has written nothing moving than this record of her mother s death from cancer The agonies of a very easy death, the clinical humiliations of a proud woman, the unforeseen flashes of love and hostility at the bedside are all told with an honesty that would be pitiless if it were not truly pitiable In A Very Easy Death, Simone De Beauvoir said, She her mother had a very easy death an upper class death But it wasn t an easy death In this frank account of her mother s struggle with intestinal cancer, Beauvoir not only reveals the struggle to release our loved ones but also the lies that we sometime perpetrate to spare them of suffering The process of dying was gruesome, even for her mother, who wanted to keep a stiff upper lip Worse were the doctors whose only goal was to keep the p In A Very Easy Death, Simone De Beauvoir said, She her mother had a very easy death an upper class death But it wasn t an easy death In this frank account of her mother s struggle with intestinal cancer, Beauvoir not only reveals the struggle to release our loved ones but also the lies that we sometime perpetrate to spare them of suffering The process of dying was gruesome, even for her mother, who wanted to keep a stiff upper lip Worse were the doctors whose only goal was to keep the patient alive, regardless of pain and suffering, both physical and emotional even when I was holding Maman s hand, I was not with her I was lying to her Her mother losing her dignity as a human being is one of the most disheartening parts of the account For many, like Beauvoir s mother, dying may be a far worse ordeal than death A must read for anyone who wants to prepare for and face death Simone De Beauvoir Have you ever spent the last days of your mother s life by her side I have This memoir of that experience by my much read and much admired Simone de Beauvoir hit me hard but not unpleasantly In the first volume of de Beauvoir s memoirs, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, written when she was in her forties, covered the first 23 years of her life Her experiences and insights helped me understand my relationship with my mother We both fought against our mothers protective and restraining method Have you ever spent the last days of your mother s life by her side I have This memoir of that experience by my much read and much admired Simone de Beauvoir hit me hard but not unpleasantly In the first volume of de Beauvoir s memoirs, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, written when she was in her forties, covered the first 23 years of her life Her experiences and insights helped me understand my relationship with my mother We both fought against our mothers protective and restraining methods of raising a girl.Simone s mother fell dangerously ill in 1963 when Simone was 55 years old Her mother went to hospital, nursing home and finally into hospice care when inoperable cancer was found Mine had two major strokes from which she could not regain enough strength to care for herself and eventually passed away 10 years ago, also in hospice though not due to cancer She declined any sort of life support and my sisters and I honored her wishes I was with her everyday for 3 months, the last 5 weeks of which I was her primary caregiver at her home.Reading A Very Easy Death was like going through it all again my mom s bewilderment at being so reduced, watching over her in the hospital and rehab facility where some bad things happened with doctors, nurses and techs, then feeling I had failed to save her when she finally passed However, the other thing I shared with Simone is a coming to peace with who my mother was and understanding her so muchdeeply We were no longer at odds in those final months, a huge gift to both of us Simone de Beauvoir is a brilliant writer She made the concerns, the exasperations, the humorous moments, the grief and relief, so real This book captures the details, the essence of that passage in life with complete honesty I know it is honest because I have been there.I wish I had had this book with me in 2009 I read this last year, and it was the first piece of literature that got me interested in existentialist fiction I m not an existentialist, but I love their literature The book is about De Beauvoir trying to cope with her mother s death De Beauvoir s feelings are ambivalent about the death of her mother Throughout the book, the doctors try to console the De Beauvoir sisters, and the doctors deal with the slow death of their mother in a very rational manner They ve put her in a comfortable I read this last year, and it was the first piece of literature that got me interested in existentialist fiction I m not an existentialist, but I love their literature The book is about De Beauvoir trying to cope with her mother s death De Beauvoir s feelings are ambivalent about the death of her mother Throughout the book, the doctors try to console the De Beauvoir sisters, and the doctors deal with the slow death of their mother in a very rational manner They ve put her in a comfortable bed and in a nice room etc However, the message De Beauvoir writes is that there is no rational way to deal with death Death does not make sense And no matter how planned and structured the doctors try to make the passing of her mother, in short, to rationalize and ease the death of a loved one, De Beauvoir cannot react in kind People have remarked that De Beauvoir seems to be a little cold towards the death of her mother, but there is no one reaction to the death of a loved one This is about personal experience a hallmark of existential thought and how dealing with death is not an objective, rational process that people experience the same way across the board There is nothing rational about dying This was beautifully written, andimportantly, it made me think An excellent way to remember Mlle de Beauvoir s precision as well as how an excellent psychologist she is For my part, having read her works has so far ameliorated, altered and at times recuperated my womanhood, adolescence and, inarguably, my relationship with selves Now, with this book, she happens to have contributed to the relationship with my mother, to my understanding of it, and a great deal as well sighs Seriously, Simone, I don t know where this is going It started to feel as if m An excellent way to remember Mlle de Beauvoir s precision as well as how an excellent psychologist she is For my part, having read her works has so far ameliorated, altered and at times recuperated my womanhood, adolescence and, inarguably, my relationship with selves Now, with this book, she happens to have contributed to the relationship with my mother, to my understanding of it, and a great deal as well sighs Seriously, Simone, I don t know where this is going It started to feel as if my ordeal, my war clouds and fallout, motives and ardour are just some footnotes to your works I don t like this I WANT THEM BACK GODDAMMIT I would love to read this book in it s original French but that aside, it was still a well, it sounds morbid and inappropriate to describe it as an enjoyable read but it was, in a way It was short, which I thought was a blessing any longer and it would have become harrowing and tedious De Beauvoir s writing is beautiful though surely missing a lot of it s beauty having been translated , she conveys her emotions and thoughts so fluidly, it almost feels as though you are right there wit I would love to read this book in it s original French but that aside, it was still a well, it sounds morbid and inappropriate to describe it as an enjoyable read but it was, in a way It was short, which I thought was a blessing any longer and it would have become harrowing and tedious De Beauvoir s writing is beautiful though surely missing a lot of it s beauty having been translated , she conveys her emotions and thoughts so fluidly, it almost feels as though you are right there with her Her language is simple but poetic.One of my favourite passages The sight of my mother s nakedness had jarred me No body existed less for me none existedAs a child I had love it dearly as an adolescent it had filled me with an uneasy repulsion all this was perfectly ordinary course of things and it seemed reasonable to me that her body should retain its dual nature, that it should be both repugnant and holy a taboo But for all that, I was astonished at the violence of my distress We spend thirty days with Simone beside her mother s bed, observing her mother s decline and listening to her process her thoughts as she does so I appreciate De Beauvoir s ability to not only convey her emotions throughout the pages, but also to analyse and philosophise throughout, but not unfeelingly Another few lines that I loved Religion could do nofor my mother than the hope of posthumous success could do for me Whether you think of it as heavenly or as earthly, if you love life immortality is no consolation for death Amen to that