Reviewed by Nancy Mehl
Simone Weil (1909-1943) was a young woman raised in an atmosphere of privilege and a deep respect for higher education. She studied in the best schools in Paris, soaking up the tenants of philosophy and current thought. Her passionate embrace of Marxist theories and her eccentric behavior caused others to think of her as peculiar.
Simone's concern for the poor and downtrodden led her to deny herself the things that her upbringing had once provided. She refused to sleep in a soft bed because there were those in France who had no place to sleep. She barely ate, citing that the poor had no food. She opened the windows in her apartment, allowing cold air to fill her rooms since there were those who lived without adequate housing. She worked in the factories and fought alongside the anarchist militia in the Spanish Civil War.
Although she was brought up in an agnostic home, Simone's quest for truth eventually caused her to reach out for an understanding of God. After a tremendously emotional spiritual experience, she began to turn from her Marxist views to embrace a world that could no longer be explained through intellect alone. Eventually, her passion may have led to her early death at the age of thirty-four.
James Yoder has brought Simone Weil to life. Although I was not acquainted with Simone before reading this book, I became fascinated with her life. Yoder has done a magnificent job in researching and writing his book. He has presented Simone as an unusually passionate human being - but has portrayed her honestly, in a way that allows us to wonder at her choices. Some may see her as obsessed and self-destructive. Others may find her to be a woman whose intense search for true humanity is exceptional. Either way, SIMONE: A SAINT FOR OUTSIDERS is a book I will not soon forget.
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