- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Model’ radicals

“When I was growing up in the ‘60s, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre were a model couple, already legendary creatures, rebels with a great many causes, and leaders of what could be called the first postwar youth movement: existentialism — a philosophy that rejected all absolutes and talked of freedom, authenticity, and difficult choices. …

“Despite being indissolubly united and bound by ideas, they remained unmarried and free to engage openly in any number of relationships. This radical departure from convention seemed breathtaking at the time. …

“Yet in this lifelong relationship of supposed equals, he, it turned out, was far more equal than she was. It was he who engaged in countless affairs, to which she responded on only a few occasions with longer-lasting passions of her own. … [I]t is also evident that De Beauvoir suffered deeply from jealousy. …

“With the posthumous publication in 1988 of her letters to Sartre … gaps that were left out of the autobiography are filled in. What the letters express is not only De Beauvoir’s overarching love for a man who is never sexually faithful to her. … They also underline the mundanity of De Beauvoir’s early accommodation to his wishes, her acceptance of what many women would reject as demeaning, her dependence.”

—Lisa Appignanesi, writing on “Our relationship was the greatest achievement of my life,” June 10 in the British newspaper, the Guardian

Printing the word

“Since Bruce Wilkinson’s ‘The Prayer of Jabez’ was published in 2000, it has sold 9.3 million copies. … Rick Warren’s ‘The Purpose-Driven Life’ … has sold a million copies a month since it was published in 2002, making it, according to Publishers Weekly, ‘the best-selling hardback in American history.’ …

“No longer are Christian bookstores the sole outlet for evangelical books. Now evangelical titles … can be found at Barnes & Nobles, airport bookstands, grocery stores, and Wal-Marts.

“Christian publishers are taking advantage of their newfound respectability in the publishing industry by opening new lines specifically designed to attract readers who are not necessarily Christians. And the reverse is also true: Secular publishers are opening new lines specifically designed to cross over into the evangelical market.”

—Gene Edward Veith and Lynn Vincent, writing “Out of the ghetto,” July 2 issue of the World

Feminist heroine?

“The thing I couldn’t quite figure out about Nora Ephron’s new film version of ‘Bewitched’ was why Nicole Kidman, in the role of the pretty suburban witch, took as her model not the savvy but sly Elizabeth Montgomery of the original TV series, but a breathless, wide-eyed innocent of the sort that Marilyn Monroe used to specialize in. …

“Back in the days of the TV series (1964-1972) … Miss Montgomery’s Samantha was forbidden by Darrin from practicing witchcraft and pretended to submit to his prohibition because a husband — so, incredibly enough, did they believe back then — needed to feel he was king in his own castle, and that the power in the relationship belonged to him. A woman with the power not only to take care of herself but to alter reality at the twitch of a nose could hardly fit comfortably into the then-desirable role of the submissive wife. …

“Samantha Stevens was a sanitized but still powerful emblem of the emergence … of a new feminist day.”

—James Bowman, writing on “Bewitched,” June 27 in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

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