It begins with “love” and ends with “AIDS,” but, in between, Simone de Beauvoir’s last piece of writing, her preface to Mihloud, is only a brief summary of the book. By agreeing to place her name on the cover of this memoir, whose author’s name is conspicuously absent, Beauvoir called attention to two related issues that were still considered virtually unmentionable in 1980s France: same-sex relations between men and the disease that was decimating the gay community. (For example, the cause of Michel Foucault’s death in 1984 was initially listed as septicemia and only later revealed as AIDS.) If Beauvoir did not interpret “Alan’s” text or even situate it in its history, she nonetheless helped make it available to a general audience....
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