Start reading here.

And make sure to check out these and .

1. “Man is defined as a human being, and woman as a female—whenever she behaves as a human being, she is said to imitate the male.”

2. “One is not born a woman, but becomes one.”

3. “No one is more arrogant toward women, more aggressive or scornful, than the man who is anxious about his virility.”

4. “I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely. No one knows me or loves me completely. I have only myself.” 

5. “Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men—they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with the absolute truth.”

6. “In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality—the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man—either a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation.”

7. “She was ready to deny the existence of space and time rather than admit that love might not be eternal.”

8. “That’s what I consider true generosity—you give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.”

9. “If the feminine issue is so absurd, it’s because the male’s arrogance made it a ‘discussion.’”

10. “All oppression creates a state of war—this is no exception.”

11. “Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition—the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day. The housewife wears herself out marking time—she makes nothing, simply perpetuates the present—eating, sleeping, cleaning—the years no longer rise up towards heaven, they lie spread out ahead, grey and identical. The battle against dust and dirt is never won.”

If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of .

12. “One’s life has value, so long as one attributes value to the life of others—by means of love, friendship, indignation, compassion.”

13. “I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties through my love for truth—and truth rewarded me.”

14. “I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom.”

15. “I am awfully greedy—I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish. You see, it is difficult to get all that I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger.”

16. “What is an adult? A child blown up by age.”

17. “If you live long enough, you’ll see that every victory turns into a defeat.”

18. “Society cares for the individual only so far as he is profitable.”

19. “When she does not find love, she may find poetry.”

20. “Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness, but it is on the side of happiness, and can supply the courage to fight for it.”

21. “When I was a child, when I was an adolescent, books saved me from despair—that convinced me that culture was the highest of values.”

22. “Buying is a profound pleasure.”

23. “What an odd thing a diary is—the things you omit are more important than those you put in.”

24. “The body is not a thing, it is a situation—it is our grasp on the world and our sketch of our project.”

25. “To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.”

26. “Capabilities are clearly manifested only when they have been realized.”

27. “It’s frightening to think that you mark your children merely by being yourself. It seems unfair. You can’t assume the responsibility for everything you do or don’t do.”

28. “I am incapable of conceiving infinity, and yet I do not accept finity.”

29. “To make oneself an object, to make oneself passive, is a very different thing from being a passive object.”

30. “Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future. Act now, without delay.”

31. “Her wings are cut, and then she is blamed for not knowing how to fly.” 

32. “But women do not say ‘we’, except at some congress of feminists or similar formal demonstration—men say ‘women’, and women use the same word in referring to themselves.” 

33. “Women are destined to a life of immorality because for a woman, to be moral is to embody something impossible—the , the admirable mother, the honest woman.”

34. “Women are not the victims of some mysterious fate—our ovaries do not condemn us to a lifetime of submission.”

35. “‘Women who do not fear men make men afraid,’ a young man once told me.”

36. “A woman is what a man says she is, and everything that he cannot be.”

37. “On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but in strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself—on that day, love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger. In the meantime, love represents in its most touching form the curse that lies heavily upon woman confined in the feminine universe—woman mutilated, insufficient unto herself.”

38. “It is perfectly natural for the future woman to feel indignant at the limitations posed upon her by her sex. The real question is not why she should them, the problem is rather to understand why she accepts them.” 

39. “If I want to define myself, I first have to say, ‘I am a woman’—all other assertions will arise from this basic truth. A man never begins by positing himself as an individual of a certain sex—that he is a man is obvious.”

40. “No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one. It is a way of forcing women in a certain direction.”

41. “Each of us is responsible for everything and to every human being.”

42. “To emancipate a woman is to refuse to confine her to the relations she bears to man, not to deny them to her. Let her have her independent existence, and she will continue, nonetheless, to exist for him also. Mutually recognising each other as subjects, each will yet remain for the other another. The reciprocity of their relations will not do away with the miracles—desire, possession, love, dream, adventure—worked by the division of human beings into two separate categories; and the words that move us—giving, conquering, uniting—will not lose their meaning. On the contrary, when we abolish the slavery of half of humanity, together with the whole system of hypocrisy that it implies, then the ‘division’ of humanity will reveal its genuine significance, and the human couple will find its true form.”

43. “It was said that I refused to grant any value to the maternal instinct and to love. This was not so. I simply asked that women should experience them truthfully and freely.”

44. “Defending the truth is not something one does out of a sense of duty or to allay guilt complexes, but is a reward in itself.”

45. “Sex pleasure in woman is a kind of magic spell—it demands complete abandon—if words or movements oppose the magic of caresses, the spell is broken.”

46. “That the child is the supreme aim of woman is a statement having precisely the value of an advertising slogan.” 

47. “To be feminine is to show oneself as weak, futile, passive, and docile. The girl is supposed not only to primp and dress herself up, but also to repress her spontaneity and substitute for it the grace and charm she has been taught by her elder sisters. Any self-assertion will take away from her femininity and her seductiveness.”

48. “When an individual is kept in a situation of inferiority, the fact is that he does become inferior.”

49. “The truth is that, just as, biologically, males and females are never victims of one another, but both victims of the species—so man and wife together undergo the oppression of an institution they did not create. If it is asserted that men oppress women, the husband is indignant—he feels that he is the one who is oppressed—and he is; but the fact is that it is the masculine code—it is the society developed by the males and in their interest—that has established woman’s situation in a form that is at present a source of torment for both sexes.” 

50. “Women’s mutual understanding comes from the fact that they identify themselves with each other—but for the same reason, each is against the others.” 

51. “Two separate beings, in different circumstances, face to face in freedom, and seeking justification of their existence through one another, will always live an adventure full of risk and promise.”

52. “The power he exercises is no more dictatorial than, for example, Roosevelt’s was.”

53. “We were two of a kind, and our relationship would endure as long as we did. But it could not make up entirely for the fleeting riches to be had from encounters with different people.”

54. “All the idols made by man, however terrifying they may be, are in point of fact subordinate to him, and that is why he will always have it in his power to destroy them.”

55. “Because we are separated, everything separates us, even our efforts to join each other.”

56. “The category of ‘other’ is as original as consciousness itself. The duality between ‘self’ and ‘other’ can be found in the most primitive societies, in the most ancient mythologies. The division did not always fall into the category of the division of the sexes.”

57. “One is not born a genius, one becomes a genius; and the feminine situation has up to the present rendered this becoming practically impossible.”

58. “One has no right to make up one’s mind about the future in advance.”

59. “The truth is, however, that when two individuals detest each other while being unable to get along without each other, it is not of all human relations—the truest and most moving—but rather, the most pitiable.”

60. “A man attaches himself to a woman, not to enjoy her, but to enjoy himself.”

61. “What would Prince Charming have for occupation if he had not to awaken the Sleeping Beauty?” 

62. “This has always been a man’s world, and none of the reasons that have been offered in explanation have seemed adequate.”

63. “The most mediocre of males feels himself a demigod as compared with women.”

64. “The whole of feminine history has been man-made. Just as in America, there is no Negro problem, but rather a white problem; just as anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem, it is our problem; so the woman problem has always been a man problem.”

65. “If they want to flirt or initiate a friendship, they should carefully avoid giving the impression they are taking the initiative. Men do not like tomboys, nor bluestockings, nor thinking women. Too much audacity, culture, intelligence, or character frightens them.”

66. “To catch a husband is an art, to hold him is a job.”

67. “We have seen what poetic veils are thrown over her monotonous burdens of housekeeping and maternity—in exchange for her liberty, she has received the false treasures of her ‘femininity’. Balzac illustrates this maneuver very well in counseling man to treat her as a slave while persuading her that she is a queen. Less cynical, many men try to convince themselves that she is really privileged.”

68. “Fathers never have exactly the daughters they want because they invent a notion that the daughters have to conform to.”

69. “Legislators, priests, philosophers, writers, and scientists have striven to show that the subordinate position of woman is willed in heaven and advantageous on earth.”

70. “Man must not attempt to dispel the ambiguity of his being, but on the contrary, accept the task of realizing it.”

71. “In any case, the more traits and proportions of a woman seem contrived, the more she delighted the heart of man, because she seemed to escape the metamorphosis of natural things.”

72. “She is defined and differentiated with reference to man, and not he with reference to her—she is incidental, the inessential, as opposed to the essential. He is the subject, he is the ‘absolute,’ she is the ‘other.’”

73. “Masculine desire is as much an offense as it is a compliment.”

74. “If so few female geniuses are found in history, it is because society denies them any means of expression.”

75. “Why one man rather than another? It was odd. You find yourself involved with a fellow for life just because he was the one that you met when you were nineteen.”

76. “The curse which lies upon marriage is that too often, the individuals are joined in their weakness rather than in their strength, each asking from the other instead of finding pleasure in giving.”

77. “A couple who go on living together merely because that was how they began, without any other reason—was that what we were turning into?”

78. “You’re unique, like all other women.”

79. “Women are shut up in a or in a boudoir, and astonishment is expressed that her horizon is limited. Her wings are clipped, and it is found deplorable that she cannot fly. Let but the future be opened to her, and she will no longer be compelled to linger in the present.” 

80. “The point is not for women simply to take power out of men’s hands, since that wouldn’t change anything about the world, it’s a question precisely of destroying that notion of power.”

81. “She was not to look beyond herself for the meaning of her life.”

82. “We will not let ourselves be intimidated by the number and violence of attacks against women, nor be fooled by the self-serving praise showered on the ‘real woman.'”

83. “Insects were scurrying about in the shade cast by the grass, and the lawn was a huge monotonous forest of thousands of little green blades, all equal, all alike, hiding the world from each other. Anguished, she thought, ‘I don’t want to be just another blade of grass.'” 

84. “The young girl throws herself into things with ardor, because she is not yet deprived of her transcendence. And the fact that she accomplishes nothing, that she is nothing, will make her impulses only the more passionate. Empty and unlimited, she seeks from within her nothingness to attain all.”

85. “Men of today seem to feel more acutely than ever the paradox of their condition. They know themselves to be the supreme end to which all action should be subordinated, but the exigencies of action force them to treat one another as instruments or obstacles, as means.”

86. “One of the benefits that oppression secures for the oppressor is that the humblest among them feels superior.”

87. “Oppression tries to defend itself by its utility.”

88. “In oppressing, one becomes oppressed.”

89. “To want to prohibit a man from error is to forbid him to fulfill his own existence, it is to deprive him of life.”

90. “Retirement may be looked upon either as a prolonged holiday, or as a rejection—a being thrown on to the scrap-heap.”

91. “In the face of an obstacle which is impossible to overcome, stubbornness is stupid.”

92. “‘Weakness’ is weakness only in light of the aims man sets for himself, the instruments at his disposal, and the laws he imposes.”

93. “To abstain from politics is, in itself, a political attitude.”

94. “To paint, to write, to engage in politics—these are not merely ‘sublimations’—here, we have aims that are willed for their own sakes. To deny it is to falsify all human history.”

95. “The more widespread their mastery of the world, the more they find themselves crushed by uncontrollable forces. Though they are masters of the atomic bomb, yet it is created only to destroy them.”

96. “It is not in giving life but in risking life that man is raised above the animal. That is why superiority has been accorded in humanity, not to the sex that brings forth, but to that which kills.”

97. “What should a society be so that in his last years, a man might still be a man?”

98. “People seem to think that if you keep your head empty, you automatically fill your balls.”

99. “The writer of originality, unless dead, is always shocking, scandalous—novelty disturbs and repels.”

100. “Life is occupied in both perpetuating itself and in surpassing itself. If all it does is maintain itself, then living is only not dying.”

101. “I want this adventure that is the context of my life to go on without end.”

102. “It is in the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our lives that we must draw our strength to live and our reasons for living.”

103. “Self-consciousness is not knowledge, but a story one tells about oneself.”

104. “All success cloaks a surrender.”

105. “I think that where you go wrong is that you imagine that your reasons for living ought to fall on you, ready-made from heaven. Whereas, we have to find them for ourselves.”

106. “The whole world was nothing but an exile with no hope of a return.”

107. “There is no justification for present existence other than its expansion into an indefinitely open future.”

108. “The characteristic feature of all ethics is to consider human life as a game that can be won or lost, and to teach man the means of winning.”

109. “Mystery is never more than a mirage that vanishes as we draw near to look at it.”

110. “The Communists, following Hegel, speak of humanity and its future as some monolithic individuality. I was attacking this illusion.”

111. “Time is beginning to flow again.”

112. “At the present time, there still exist many doctrines which choose to leave in the shadows—certain troubling aspects of a too complex situation. But their attempt to lie to us is in vain. Cowardice doesn’t pay.”

113. “From the very beginning, existentialism defined itself as a philosophy of ambiguity.”

114. “We must not confuse the present with the past. With regard to the past, no further action is possible.”

115. “The word ‘love’ has by no means the same sense for both sexes, and this is one cause of the serious misunderstandings that divide them.”

116. “Happiness is a rarer vocation than people suppose.”

117. “Youth, and what the Italians so prettily call ‘stamina’—the vigor, the fire that enables you to love and create—when you’ve lost that, you’ve lost everything.”

118. “It is so tiring to hate someone you love.”

119. “I tried to love you less. I couldn’t.”

120. “If I had amnesia, I’d be almost like other men. Perhaps, I’d even be able to love you.”

121. “Love is then renunciation of all possession, of all confusion.”

122. “Be loved, be admired, be necessary—be somebody.”

123. “I was made for another planet altogether. I mistook the way.”

124. “I could see no reason for being sad. It’s just that it makes me unhappy not to feel happy.”

125. “Some things I loved have vanished. A great many others have been given to me.”

126. “‎A day in which I don’t write leaves a taste of ashes.”

127. “Tragedies are alright for a while—you are concerned, you are curious, you feel good. And then it gets repetitive, it doesn’t advance, it grows dreadfully boring. It is so very boring, even for me.”

128. “But all day long, I would be training myself to think, to understand, to criticize, to know myself—I was seeking for the absolute truth—this preoccupation did not exactly encourage polite conversation.”

129. “I was very fond of Lagneau’s phrase: ‘I have no comfort but in my absolute despair.’”

130. “Without a doubt, it is more comfortable to endure blind bondage than to work for one’s liberation—the dead, too, are better suited to the earth than the living.”

131. “To will oneself moral and to will oneself free are one and the same decision.”

132. “Every individual concerned to justify his existence feels that his existence involves an undefined need to transcend himself—to engage in freely chosen projects.”

133. “Freedom is the source from which all significations and all values spring. It is the original condition of all justification of existence.”

134. “To will freedom and to will to disclose being are one and the same choice. Hence, freedom takes a positive and constructive step which causes beings to pass to existence in a movement which is constantly surpassed.”

135. “Art is an attempt to integrate evil.”

136. “Art, literature, and philosophy are attempts to found the world anew on a human freedom.”

137. “In Plato, art is mystification because there is the heaven of ideas, but in the earthly domain, all glorification of the earth is true as soon as it is realized.”

138. “The body is the instrument of our hold on the world.”

139. “Since it is the ‘other’ within us who is old, it is natural that the revelation of our age should come to us from outside—from others. We do not accept it willingly.”

140. “It is old age, rather than death, that is to be contrasted with life. Old age is life’s parody, whereas death transforms life into a destiny—in a way, it preserves it by giving it the absolute dimension. Death does away with time.”

141. “Today, however, we are having a hard time living because we are so bent on outwitting death.”

142. “A conquest of this kind is never finished—the contingency remains, and, so that he may assert his will, man is even obliged to stir up in the world the outrage he does not want. But this element of failure is a very condition of his life—one can never dream of eliminating it without immediately dreaming of death.”

143. “The misfortune is that although everyone must come to death, each experiences the adventure in solitude. We never left Maman during those last days, and yet we were profoundly separated from her.”

144. “I went to get a detective story. You have to kill time, but time will kill me too—and there’s the true, pre-established balance.”

145. “There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless.”

146. “You have never had any confidence in him. And if he has no confidence in himself, it is because he sees himself through your eyes.”

147. “He formed his sentences hesitantly, and then threw them at me with such force that I felt as if I were receiving a present each time.”

148. “He reflected, ‘I know a lot of different kinds of people. What I want is to show each of them how the others really are. You hear so many lies!’”

149. “Ready-made phrases and the ritual of etiquette were unknown to him—his thoughtfulness was pure improvisation, and it resembled the little inventions affection inspires.”

150. “Every war, every revolution, demands the sacrifice of a generation, of a collectivity, by those who undertake it.”

151. “There was still a question in her eyes—one that she did not like to put into words.”

152. “He had not applauded, he had remained seated, but he had looked at her steadily. From the depths of eternity, he had looked at her and Rosalind became immortal. If I could believe him, she thought, if only I could believe him!”

153. “I’m never afraid, but in my case, it’s nothing to be proud of.”

154. “When Sartre and I met, not only did our backgrounds fuse, but also our solidity—our individual conviction that we were what we were made to be.”

155. “Society, being codified by man, decrees that woman is inferior; she can do away with this inferiority only by destroying the male’s superiority.”

156. “Even if one is neither vain nor self-obsessed, it is so extraordinary to be oneself—exactly oneself and no one else—and so unique, that it seems natural that one should also be unique for someone else.”

157. “She would never change, but one day, at the touch of a fingertip, she would fall to dust.”

158. “The way I approached a question, my habit of mind, the way I looked at things, what I took for granted—all this was myself, and it did not seem to me that I could alter it.”

159. “In spite of so many stubborn lies, at every moment, at every opportunity, the truth comes to light, the truth of life and death, of my solitude and my bond with the world, of my freedom and my servitude, of the insignificance and the sovereign importance of each man and all men.”

160. “I realized that even if we went on talking till Judgment Day, I would still find the time all too short.”

was born in a wealthy family, but soon after the first World War, her family lost a lot of fortune.

The constant discussions caused by the unbalance between her father’s pagan ethical standards and her mother’s conventionalist teachings are what molded her to become an intellectual.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here