At Home with André and Simone Weil

Trade Paper – $24.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-4262-6

Trade Cloth – $26.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2704-3

E-book – $21.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-6491-8
Publication Date
October 2010
Page Count
192 pages
Trim Size
5.5 x 8.25

At Home with André and Simone Weil

Sylvie Weil, translated from the French by Benjamin Ivry

Translated from the French by Benjamin Ivry Simone Weil was one of the twentieth century’s most original philosopher-critics, and as a result her legacy has been claimed by many. Thismemoir by Weil’s niece is strong-willed and incisive and as close as we are likely to get to the real Simone Weil. Born into a freethinking Jewish family, Weil contributed many articles to Socialist and Communist journals and was active in the Spanish Civil War until her health failed. 

In 1940 she became strongly attracted to Roman Catholicism and the Passion of Christ. Most of her works, published posthumously, continue to inform debates in ethics, philosophy, and spirituality surrounding questions of sacrifice, asceticism, and the virtues of manual labor. Massively influential, Weil’s writings were widely praised by such readers as Albert Camus, T. S. Eliot, Simone de Beauvoir, Pope John XXIII, Czesław Miłosz, and Susan Sontag. Sylvie Weil recovers the deeply Jewish nature of Simone’s thinking and details how her preoccupations with charity and justice were fully in the tradition of tzedakah, the Jewish religious obligation toward these actions.

Using previously unpublished family correspondence and conversations, Sylvie Weil offers a more authentically personal portrait of her aunt than previous biographers have provided. At Home with André and Simone Weil illuminates Simone’s relationship to her family, especially to her brother, the great Princeton mathematician André Weil. A clear-eyed and uncompromising memoir of her family, At Home with André and Simone Weil is a fresh look at the noted French philosopher,mystic, and social activist.

About the Author

Sylvie Weil is the niece of Simone Weil and the daughter of André Weil. She earned her 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. Her novels have been published in the United States: My Guardian Angel (2007) and Elvina’s Mirror (2009). 

Benjamin Ivry’s previous books include biographies of Arthur Rimbaud, Maurice Ravel, and Francis Poulenc. He has translated French authors such as André Gide, Jules Verne, Balthus, and Witold Gombrowicz.

"A magnificent narrative which brings back to life the brother and sister, born three years apart yet very like twins, both superlatively gifted."—Le Monde

"Sylvie Weil's memoir is simply one of the best books I've read in the past decade. At turns poignant, poetic, and deeply personal, Chez les Weil is a movingly honest exploration of her own identity and the exceptional influences that helped shape it, particularly her father, André, and his sister, Simone, her grandparents and ancestors, and the Holocaust." —Paul LeClerc, president, The New York Public Library

"The missing link in the story of André and Simone Weil is Sylvie Weil, daughter of the great mathematician, niece of the legendary philosopher. In her memoirs, which are much more than that, the 'saints' are humanized, while the 'merely' personal is transformed into something rich and strange. One enters Sylvie's world to find André and Simone, and discovers there a hidden treasure: Sylvie herself. No student of André or Simone Weil can afford not to enter this captivating universe." —Palle Yourgrau, author of A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Gödel and Einstein

"At Home with André and Simone Weil is an elegant and witty memoir-cum-reflection." —The Spectator