Simone Weil

The Need for Roots
  • The Need for Roots

  • One of the foremost French philosophers of the last century, Simone Weil has been described by André Gide as 'the patron saint of all outsiders' and by Albert Camus as 'the only great spirit of our time'. In this, her most famous work, she diagnoses the malaise at the heart of modern life: uprootedness, from the past and from community. Written towards the end of World War Two for the Free French Army, Weil's text is an indispensable and perpetually intriguing text for readers and students of philosophy everywhere.

Simone Weil (1909-43) was a French political activist, mystic, and a singular figure in French philosophy. She studied at the elite École Normale Supérieure, obtained her agrégation (teaching diploma) in philosophy in 1931, worked at Renault from 1934 to 1935, enlisted in the International Brigades in 1936 and worked as a farm labourer in 1941. She left France in 1942 for New York and then London, where she worked for General de Gaulle's Free French movement. 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).

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