Translated by Bernard E. Doering
How can we articulate the intimate demand of the spiritual life and the struggle for solidarity? These two issues have often been treated separately; in Simone Weil: Attention to the Real, however, Robert Chenavier explores the work of Simone Weil (1909–1943) and demonstrates how she brought them together in a single movement of thought. “Our time has a unique mission, calling for the creation of a civilization based on the spirituality of work,” she wrote near the end of her short life. Her experience as a militant and the call of the divine nurtured in her writing an intense and unwavering defense of this new civilization, backed by her personal sense of intellectual, moral, and political responsibility.
Originally published in French in 2009, Simone Weil: Attention to the Real leads the reader through her earliest writing as a perceptive social critic to her work on spirituality and materialism, and finally to her extraordinary concept of decreation, produced before her death at the age of thirty-four. “To an exceptional degree,” Chenavier says, “the life of Simone Weil, her personality, her commitment, and her reflection form one single whole.” Chenavier argues that Weil’s vocation took on a very original form in the history of philosophical thought. He is especially concerned with Weil’s philosophical writings on the concept of work, which remain relevant today, and which provide an important key to her thinking throughout her life. Bernard Doering’s superb translation brings to English readers Chenavier’s succinct account of Simone Weil’s life and an illuminating introduction to her philosophical thought.
“Bernard Doering has crafted a very fine translation of Robert Chenavier’s comprehensive but brief introduction to Simone Weil’s philosophical project. It provides an excellent English introduction to the social philosophy of Simone Weil, with due attention to her understanding of the importance of work in learning to attend to the real. Doering’s translation will be of interest to both a religious and secular readership, both inside and outside the academy.” — Lawrence Schmidt, University of Toronto
“This is an excellent introduction to the thought of Simone Weil. Chenavier understands Weil as a philosopher and in one hundred pages is able to give a succinct presentation of her, from her earliest writings to her extraordinary later ones. This sophisticated presentation can serve both as an introduction to Weil for the nonspecialist and as an introduction to Chenavier’s own take on Weil for the reader who knows Weil and is interested in Chenavier’s contribution.” — Eric O. Springsted, president, American Weil Society
“Robert Chenavier gives us in fewer than one hundred pages a wonderful chronological introduction to Weil’s thought. . . . The book will inspire more writing on Weil’s thought . . . [and] help in the preservation of the important contributions to twentieth century philosophy. This book is highly recommended for all academic libraries.” — Catholic Library World
“Having been given a central thread to trace through Weil, one is better equipped to apply her insights to other scholarly work. Simone Weil: Attention to the Real is not an introduction as much as it is a platform from which one can independently dig deeper into Weil’s life and thought. Along with philosophers, environmentalists, ethicists and political thinkers may find this book a valuable addition to their Weil collection.” — Journal for Peace and Justice Studies
“For those somewhat acquainted with Weil’s work or in possession of an introduction . . . Chenavier’s book could be very valuable in representing Weil’s intellectual and spiritual project as organized and focused. It succeeds in structuring her work around two big ideas: work and the spiritual.” — Theology
“Bernard Doering’s translation of Robert Chenavier’s Simone Weil: Attention to the Real makes this unusually concise and authoritative introduction to the thought of Simone Weil available in English . . . this brief essay, which is the fruit of a rigorous and sustained engagement with Weil’s work, provides a dense and coherent introduction to Weil’s philosophy, and manages to unify the diverse strands that make up this unique intellectual trajectory.” — International Journal for Philosophy of Religion
Winner of the Silver Award in Philosophy, ForeWord Magazine’s 2012 Book of the Year Award