Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
Simone Weil was born in Paris on February 3, 1909, to an agnostic Jewish family. She was graduated in 1931 from the École Normale Supérieure as a teacher of philosophy. In 1934, she took a year’s leave from her teaching to take a job at the Renault Works in order to learn through her own experience the hard conditions of the workers there. After another period of teaching, she spent several weeks on the Catalonian front sharing the sufferings of the Republican army there during the Spanish Civil War. She wrote for various journals of the political left and periodically took on manual labor without asking for or receiving any concessions because of her social status, education, or health, which was often poor.
In June, 1941, Weil met the Reverend J. M. Perrin, O.P., and through him Gustave Thibon, a Catholic writer, both of whom had a profound influence on her. In 1938 she had undergone a mystical experience in which, as she reported it, “Christ came down and took me,” and in letters to Father Perrin she told of this experience and of the anguishing reflections that her persistent spiritual search provoked. In May, 1942, she left France with her family to escape from the Nazi-installed Vichy government’s anti-Semitic policies; she traveled to the United States from Casablanca. She was then asked to work with the French provisional government in London and went there in November, 1942. She became ill in England but refused to take the food she...
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