Books: Gray Pastures

THE COMING OF AGE

by SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR

Translated by PATRICK O'BRIAN

585 pages. Putnam. $10.

Die young or grow old—so far there seems to be no other option. Yet society regards old age as "a kind of shameful secret," complains French Novelist and Treatise Writer Simone de Beauvoir, now in her 65th year. Old people, she argues brilliantly and bitterly, are condemned not only to decrepitude but to poverty and loneliness. In the face of this, they are also asked "to display serenity" so that their juniors will be spared guilt.

With the same tough panache she showed in pioneering Women's Liberation (The...

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