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A Very Easy Death (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

"The only comfort I have . . . is that it will happen to me too. Otherwise it would be too unfair."

In this shocking little volume, de Beauvoir recounts the end of her mother's life and death (which perfectly illustrates many of the problems Gawande discusses in Being Mortal). Reflecting on this book now and rereading some passages, I feel my heart drop and I wonder why I and so many are drawn to such material. I suppose it's simply because death is part of the human condition. It's that inevitable experience we'll all share though no one can experience it with us. No doubt this is one of de Beauvoir's best works in its power and intelligence--utterly maddening, touching, and haunting.

— From Kaitlyn's Picks


A Very Easy Death has long been considered one of Simone de Beauvoir’s masterpieces. The profoundly moving, day-by-day recounting of her mother’s death “shows the power of compassion when it is allied with acute intelligence” (The Sunday Telegraph). Powerful, touching, and sometimes shocking, this is an end-of-life account that no reader is likely to forget.

Translated by Patrick O'Brian

About the Author

SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR was born in Paris in 1908. In 1929 she became the youngest person ever to obtain the agrégation in philosophy at the Sorbonne, placing second on the exam to Jean-Paul Sartre. She taught at lycées in Marseille and Rousen from 1931 to 1937, and in Paris from 1938 to 1943. After World War II, she emerged as one of the leaders of the existentialist movement, working with Sartre on Les Temps Modernes. The author of many acclaimed works, de Beauvoir was one of the most influential thinkers of her generation. She died in 1986.

Praise For…

“This book is written with restrained emotion and a literalness, a faithfulness to fact, that is very moving coming from a woman whom we have known as dedicated to abstractions. This is a difficult book to read as it must have been a difficult book to write . . . Unsparing in its depiction of a human being in her inevitable encounter with extinction, it illustrates the general tragedy of the human condition through a particularized instance. A book of near despair, yet dignified.”
Library Journal

Product Details
ISBN: 9780394728995
ISBN-10: 0394728998
Publisher: Pantheon
Publication Date: February 12th, 1985
Pages: 112
Language: English
Series: Pantheon Modern Writers Series