It is sixty years since Simone de Beauvoir's book, The Second Sex, was originally published. This book became seminal in feminism, because of the attempt to define woman as she is rather than as the Other, or counterpart, to men. It's combination of existentialism and feminism, as well as discussion of sexuality contributed to the growth of feminism and the (still continuing) search for equality in society.
It's original 'rushed' translation by Howard Parshley meant that the message did not survive completely intact. Apparently Parshley had a limited understanding of French and existentialist philosophy; his expertise was in sexual reproduction; not really a good basis for rendering something so complex as Beauvoir's book.
The Second Sex came about from Beauvoir's attempt to write about herself. After writing that she was a woman, Beauvoir realised that she needed to define 'woman.' The rest, as that awful cliche says, is history (herstory, ourstory?).
I remember reading from my mother's copy a long time ago, on the cusp of womanhood. I don't remember much though I like to think I absorbed some of it by osmosis... (obviously not enough, if I had six children - ah!). I'm very intrigued by whispers of the new translation coming from Cape (Random House), but I can't determine how soon this new translation will be forthcoming, if indeed it has been published. If you have good French, apparently reading it in the original is the most illuminating method of discovering The Second Sex. In the meantime, Happy Anniversary year, Simone & The Second Sex.