An Implacable Seriousness

[From Simone de Beauvoir’s Diaries]

What I discover in myself first is a seriousness, an austere and implacable seriousness, for which I do not understand the reason, but to which I subject myself like to a mysterious and crushing necessity […] Even when it bothers me I cannot hate it; it is myself. It is what controls my life. And first it prohibits me from that which is not essential […] Simply I am not able to give myself up to pleasure. I carry this refusal in all the words that I say, and that is why I don’t speak much. To say useless words makes me suffer like a diminution; at length I weigh each word as well as each act; before going to see a friend, writing a letter, etc. I have to deliberate slowly. I hate conversations precisely because they take me off guard and do not permit me to translate my profound sentiments very exactly. People sometimes believe that my reserve is disdainful; it originates on the contrary out of my respect for others. I am ashamed to give them what I do not consider important (and they ask me for that alone).

5 thoughts on “An Implacable Seriousness

  1. >This resonates very deeply with me. For practically every sentence I read, I was saying in my head, "Yes! That's how I feel, too!" It comforts me that I'm not alone, that I take time to respond verbally, but feel much more comfortable with writing down my thoughts as a form of expression. I wonder if perhaps she was an oldest child, such as I, which comes with an overwhelming sense of responsibility. But, of course, that's just part of an explanation as to what makes us who we are. I feel perhaps I could talk to Simone, if we were alone in a room together. With lots of time.

  2. >Bellezza: Yes, Simone was the elder daughter of two children. At eighteen, writing these diaries, she reflects on how much her personality has changed, even from three years earlier. This passage is part of a self-analysis she conducts in the diary, and it felt like I was reading myself.

  3. >I'd appreciate your opinion on She came to stay, as I've yet to tackle the fiction. These diaries capture two years of student life (an earlier notebook has not been found); I am not sure about the existence of later diaries, but I would like to read those.

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