Gravity and Grace Critical Context - Essay

Simone Weil

Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

English translations of Weil’s work have been published in a chronologically awkward fashion. All of her books were published posthumously, and most are composed of miscellaneous letters, articles, notes, and fragments, many of which were never intended for publication. Moreover, the English translations often gather these materials under different titles. As a consequence, Weil’s work has often appeared haphazardly, and the thematic integrity of her thought has been difficult to perceive. Thus, Gravity and Grace, while one of the first important publications of Weil’s work in English, needs to be read alongside other developed pieces. Attente de Dieu (1950; Waiting for God, 1951) provides, for example, access to Weil’s more personal voice. Composed of letters and papers in early 1942, Waiting for God not only clarifies the Weilian motif of “attending/waiting” but also describes her mystical experience, conversion, and subsequent relationship with the Church. L’Enracinement: Prelude a une declaration des devoirs envers l’etre humain (1949; The Need for Roots, 1952), regarded by many as her most brilliant and important book, is an extended meditation on the problems of rebuilding a just society in France after the liberation. It is the best explication of her sociopolitical thought, suggestions of which are provided in the final chapters of Gravity and Grace. Cahiers (1951;...

(The entire section is 448 words.)