Camus & Weil

The Logic of the Rebel: On Simone Weil and Albert Camus

Robert Zaretsky read

Excerpt: “. . . . The letter writer and analyst, it turns out, had more than tuberculosis in common. The former, Albert Camus, and the latter, Simone Weil, went on to become two of France’s most famous thinkers and writers. Camus had already established himself during the war not just as the author of The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus, but also the editor of the Resistance newspaper Combat. By the time of France’s liberation, the French-Algerian writer had become the face — a rather Humphrey Bogartian one at that — of the French Resistance. Sixty years later — he died in a car crash in January 1960 — Camus is also the face of French existentialism.

As for Simone Weil, fame had to wait. She certainly did not seek it out — as evidenced by the many contradictory things she did during her short life. Weil taught philosophy to middle-class students and Greek tragedy to industrial workers; she organized French pacifist movements and carried a gun alongside republicans during the Spanish Civil War; she was fluent in Greek, Latin, English, and German, and worked on assembly lines in a series of factories; she was born into a secular French-Jewish family and died as a near-convert to Roman Catholicism. . . .”

Los Angeles Review of Books (March 7, 2020)

Robert Zaretsky is the author, among other things, of The Subversive Simone Weil: A Life in Five Ideas (2021).

Albert Camus, Simone Weil and the Absurd

Rik Van Nieuwenhove read

According to Camus, it is only in the face of the absurd – and through our unremitting revolt against it – that meaning can be generated. Espousing the Christian faith abnegates the absurd and with it the only possible source of meaning for modem man. This critique can be addressed by engaging with Simone Weil. She develops an original dialectic of divine absence (in the laws of indifferent ’necessity’ and affliction) and presence, which reflects the intra-Trinitarian unity and distance of the divine Persons, and which finds ultimate expression on the Cross of Christ. For her this dialectic does not induce revolt but a sophisticated kind of reconciliation that involves a selfless openness to, and engagement with, this world.

Irish Theological Quarterly, vol. 70, pp. 343-354