“It is quite incorrect to believe that the dead are gone forever and never return to speak to the living. They return to speak to the living all the time; indeed, it is their main activity.” Thus writes Sylvie Weil in this illuminating memoir, in which contemporary readers can hear the voices of her famed philosopher aunt Simone and mathematician father André.
Born into a freethinking Jewish family in France in 1909, Simone Weil was one of the twentieth century’s most original philosophers, influencing Albert Camus, T. S. Eliot, Simone de Beauvoir, Pope John XXIII, Czeslaw Milosz, and Susan Sontag. She fought for workers’ rights and, later, the Spanish Republican cause. Before her death at age thirty-four, Simone Weil turned increasingly to mysticism and religion, especially Roman Catholicism, exploring themes of sacrifice, asceticism, and the virtues of manual labor. She never converted, however, and Sylvie Weil writes from a Jewish perspective, emphasizing Simone’s Jewish heritage.
Using previously unpublished family correspondence and conversations, Sylvie Weil paints the most vivid, private portrait of her aunt in print. The book illuminates Simone’s relationship with others, especially with her brother, André. Loving and unsparing, affectionate and incisive, At Home with André and Simone Weil is an insightful memoir about a family of intellectual luminaries.
About the Author
SYLVIE WEIL earned degrees in classics and French literature at the Sorbonne. She was a professor of French literature and is the author of several award-winning works of fiction for adults and for young adults, including two novels published in the United States: My Guardian Angel and Elvina’s Mirror.
BENJAMIN IVRY has written biographies of Arthur Rimbaud, Maurice Ravel, and Francis Poulenc. He has translated such authors as André Gide, Jules Verne, Balthus, and Witold Gombrowicz.
“With this book, Sylvie Weil has opened a window and allowed the fresh air of her unique perspective and her considerable talent to dust off and provide new insight into these two giants, and into the peculiar challenges of being the offspring of intellectual lions. With humor and style, Weil deftly leads us through the social intricacies of Jewish history, family history, mathematics, philosophy, war, and a peculiar sort of redemption. Leaning on Sylvie Weil’s capable arm, we are escorted through the back roads of a complex family landscape. This is a first-class tour.” —Karen Hesse, author of The Cats in Krasinski Square
"At Home with André and Simone Weil is an elegant and witty memoir-cum-reflection." —The Spectator