Sarah Ditum at Literary Review:
In Kirkpatrick’s work, Sartre appears far more in need of Beauvoir than Beauvoir is of him. In his later life in particular, it is hard to see him as anything other than pathetic: ruined by alcohol and amphetamines, throwing himself down the intellectual dead-end of Maoism, still skirt-chasing even after several strokes. Much of what is considered to be Sartre’s unique contribution to philosophy and ethics turns out – on consultation of Beauvoir’s letters, diaries and published work – to have started with her.
That goes for the ‘pact’ too. Before the two had discussed such a thing, Beauvoir ‘came to the conclusion that she would love multiple men in the ways she thought them loveable’, writes Kirkpatrick. When the two first met, as students in the late 1920s, Beauvoir may already have had a lover. The record is hazy, understandably so given the censoriousness shown towards unmarried, sexually active women in the early 20th century.