On the Czech Translation of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex
Marianna Placáková (Charles University, Prague), ed.
Contradictions: A Journal for Critical Thought IV, no. 2 (2020): 155–186
Keywords: Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, Czechoslovakia, feminism, state socialism
Here Marianna Placáková introduces a series of commentaries written in response to the 1966 Czech translation of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. This English translation includes texts by Ivan Sviták, Jan Patočka, and Irena Dubská.
When The Second Sex was translated into Czech, it was the first translation of the book to be published in a socialist state. It was abridged, like many other translations of the book during this period, and was edited by the phenomenologist Jan Patočka who, in his postscript, presented the work primarily within its philosophical context. The translation, which was published in three editions within two years and reached a combined print run of almost one hundred thousand copies, earned substantial acclaim both among the lay and the academic public. The main debate about the book unfolded in the magazines Literární noviny and Vlasta, where the contributors aired their views from various positions – as advocates of phenomenology, Marxism, and the women’s press.
Translated by Ashley Davies.
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