I just got finished reading this 600-page monstrosity of a book about Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, a tome about their upbringings, the social climates in which they lived and the historical events and political shifts that shaped their lives and relationships both with each other and with other "contingent" loves.
Beauvoir, one of the brightest female minds of her time, fancied herself an independent woman, a bohemian feminist who would not be tethered by the demands of a conventional marriage or children. During her lifetime, she managed a 50-year relationship with JPS, undoubtedly the one great love of her life. In the beginning, they both enjoyed their unconventional "marriage" by taking on many different lovers and following their careers and interests with passion. In the end, Sartre was a nasty, ugly old fuck surrounded by girls barely out of their teens who wanted him for his fame and money while Beauvoir sat fearfully and tearfully by, old and alone and terrified that she would lose her place as Queen of the Heap.
During their time together, Beauvoir seemed constantly on the prowl, ready to sabotage any tryst that became too serious for her taste, so eager was she to maintain her position in Sartre's life. How is this any different than the most fearful and tearful traditional wife who keeps finding phone numbers in her husband's jacket pocket after supposed late nights at the office?
Now they are both dead, and their memoirs are all that's left to speak about their feelings toward the other. Beauvoir's memoirs brim with her longing for Sartre. His memoirs barely speak of her at all.
Well, look at the bright side of things. At least she got to be at his beck and call for 50 years and to write and edit a good deal of his work while he sat drunk and stinking and was out fucking other women and buying them apartments, that is until he went blind and his diabetes and heart problems crippled him to the point that someone had to care for him 24 hours a day. That someone was Beauvoir.
Oh, those great loves...