Consider past surface circumstances.

from Les Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir page 192 fiction ~1 min read

"And what do you suppose that would mean to me?" she said with a smile. "My name on posters, my picture in the papers–really, it doesn't interest me. I could have had all that a long time ago but I wanted no part of it. I'm afraid you misunderstood me," she added. "I'm not interested in personal glory. A great love, it seems to me, is so much more important than a career. The only thing I regret is that its success doesn't depend on me alone."

"But you don't have to choose between the two," I said. "You can continue to love Henri and sing."

She looked at me gravely. "A great love doesn't leave a woman free for anything else. I know the understanding that exists between you and Robert," she added. "But it isn't what I would call a great love."

I had no desire to discuss either her definitions or my life. "All the days you spend here, alone... you would have time to work."

"It isn't a question of time." She smiled at me reproachfully. "Why do you think I gave up singing ten years ago? Because I realized that Henri required all of me."

"You say he himself advised you go back to work."

"But if I took him at his word, he'd be shocked and dismayed!" she said cheerfully. "He'd never be able to tolerate a single one of my thoughts not belonging to him."[1]


  1. It is to be doubted that this is a representation of true love, though perhaps it is a representation of great love. Expression in love may take many forms and who is to deem which form is necessarily more proper than another? Still, I would hold fast that the best love is little and long rather than all-consuming. ↩︎

—Simone de Beauvoir, Les Mandarins, p. 192