Simone Weil, an Intellectual Biography: An Intellectual Biography

Gabriella Fiori, Author, Joseph R. Berrigan, Translator University of Georgia Press $40 (380p) ISBN 978-0-8203-1102-9
Anti-fascist intellectual Weil was a tangle of contradictions. She advocated pacifism yet fought alongside anarchists in Spain. Born in Paris to wealthy Jewish parents, she embraced her own semimystical version of Catholicism while seeking ``a philosophical cleansing of the Catholic religion.'' Weil worked in a factory, lived an ascetic existence, neglected her health, slept on floors. She displayed, in Fiori's words, an ``inner infantilism'' that combined extreme purity of heart with an inability to accept the life of a grown woman. Weil died in 1943 of self-starvation, leaving behind notebooks and essays in which she poured out her thoughts on the need for a spiritual-political regeneration to overcome Nazi pseudo-religion and Soviet-style workers' bureaucracy. This empathetic philosophical biography by a retired Italian teacher only partially succeeds in illuminating her complex character. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1989
Release date: 11/01/1989
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