Weil, Simone

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Weil, Simone

Simone Weil (sēmôn´ vīl), 1909–43, French philosopher and mystic. After receiving her baccalauréat with honors at 15, she studied philosophy for four years, then entered (1928) the prestigious École Normale Supérieure, from which she graduated in 1931. She then taught in secondary schools and contributed many articles to socialist and Communist journals. She was active in the Spanish civil war until her health failed. Born into a free-thinking Jewish family, she became strongly attracted in 1940 to Roman Catholicism, believing that Jesus on the Cross was a bridge between God and man. Most of her works, published posthumously, consist of some notebooks and a collection of religious essays. They include, in English, Waiting for God (1951), Gravity and Grace (1952), The Need for Roots (1952), Notebooks (2 vol., 1956), Oppression and Liberty (1958), and Selected Essays, 1934–1943 (1962).

See biographies by J. Cabaud (tr. 1965), R. Rees (1966), S. Petrement (tr. 1976), G. Fiori (1989), and F. du P. Gray (2001); R. Coles, Simone Weil: A Modern Pilgrimage (1987); M. G. Dietz, Between the Human and the Divine: The Political Thought of Simone Weil (1988); bibliography by J. P. Little (1973).

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