Simone de Beauvoir | She Came to Stay (I)

Paris in the 1940s | Robert Doisneau

At the next table a rather tired blonde and a very young man were affectionately holding hands; the youth was talking ardently in a low voice, the woman smiling cautiously, without letting a single wrinkle furrow her once pretty face; the little professional from the hotel was dancing with a sailor, clinging tightly against him, her eyes half-closed; the attractive brunette seated on her bar stool, was munching banana slices, with an expression of boredom. Françoise smiled proudly. Each one of these men, each one of these women present here tonight was completely absorbed in living a moment of his or her insignificant individual existence. Xavière was dancing. Elisabeth was shaken by convulsions of anger and despair. And I – here I am at the very heart of the dance-hall – impersonal and free. I am watching all these lives and all these faces. If I were to turn away from them, they would disintegrate at once like a deserted landscape.

– She Came to Stay, Simone de Beauvoir

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