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An Existential Love Affair

Jean Paul Sartre was the father of existentialism. Simone de Beauvoir was the mother of modern feminism. Together they challenged the cultural and social assumptions and expectations of their upbringings.

JP Sartre and Simon de Beauvoir in one of the Parisian cafés.
Sartre and de Beauvoir enjoyed numerous conversations during their “pact”. They could have affairs, but they were required to tell each other everything.

Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir began their romantic partnership after they met at the Sorbonne in 1929. At that time, they were both promising up-and-coming philosophers. What began as any other love affair, became something completely different. The two came to an agreement that rejected what they considered bourgeois hypocrisy, and opted for an open relationship at the time when that was considered immoral.

The key to the relationship was transparency. They decided that every affair they had would be described to the other in detail. Therefore, since their deaths, their letters to each other are readily available, and so are all the juicy details.

It’s easy to guess who was a more successful seducer. Simone was a beautiful, intelligent bisexual. Sartre was very self conscious about his looks, his squint and bad skin. And Simone was very helpful in that regard, acting as his wing man on numerous occasions. But it was their dream to have sex with a same woman. Bianca Lamblin, a French writer, was the woman that finally achieved their goal. But before Bianca, there was Olga Kosakiewicz.

Olga Kosakiewicz – Jean Paule Sartre autograph

Olga Kosakiewicz was a student of Simone de Beauvoir. The two had a brief affair before she introduced her to Sartre who became infatuated with her. He actively pursued her for two years, before giving up and sleeping with her sister Wanda Kosakiewicz. Wanda later had a relationship with another famous French philosopher, Albert Camus. Sartre later wrote that Wanda was a main reason why his relation with Camus went sour.  Olga Kosakiewicz later married Jacques-Laurent Bost, a French journalist and satirist. Throughout his marriage, Bost maintained an affair with Simone de Beauvoir.

Sartre's autograph
Title page of 1950 edition of La Nausee (Nausea), with Jean Paule Sartre autograph. Sartre signed the title page and dedicated the book to Olga Kosakiewicz.

The weirdest thing is they all remained very good friends, even with all the sex between them all. Beauvoir dedicated her novel “She Came to Stay” to Olga, and Sartre based a character on her in his novel “The Roads to Freedom”.

Kiev born sisters Kosakiewicz clearly had great influence both on Sartre and de Beauvoir. Olga later stated that their relationships with Sartre and Beauvoir emotionally damaged both of them.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more articles coming out soon!

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