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Mysticism and the Making of Simone Weil

Anna Kelner

Abstract: “Mysticism and the Making of Simone Weil” argues that Simone Weil and her early editors fashioned her as a modern iteration of the medieval mystics, replicating a key feature of the archive of medieval women’s mystical writing: the construction of medieval women’s textual afterlives by male clerics.

Though scholars have often observed parallels between Weil and the medieval mystics, the ways in which Weil and her editors effect this parallel have not been thoroughly explored. Weil and her editors constructed her as a Christian mystic—drawing both on contemporary discussions of the topic, and on the archive of medieval mysticism for points of comparison—in a distinctly modern sense of the term, as it was coming to be understood in twentieth-century France. Together, they transform her image much as the advisors and amanuenses of the medieval mystics did in transmitting their works into modernity.”

R.D. Perry & Benjamin A. Saltzman, eds., Thinking of the Medieval: Midcentury Intellectuals and the Middle Ages (Cambridge University Press, 2022) (chapter 10).

Anna Kelner is a visiting fellow at Harvard University.

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