Recommended

Simone Weil Bibliography

Saundra Lipton read

Although Simone Weil died very young at age 34, her essays and notebooks have been the topic of a significant volume of scholarship from a wide variety of disciplines including Religion, Philosophy, Literature, Nursing, Political Science, History, Psychology, Education, and Business.  However, the last comprehensive bibliography of critical works on Simone Weil compiled by J.P. Little, dates back to 1973 with a supplement in 1979 and a small update in 1995.  The diversity and range of this ongoing scholarship make an updated comprehensive bibliography critically important for those writing on Weil and her work.

Saundra Lipton, University of Calgary, and Debra Jensen, Mount Royal University have been active collaborators (till Debra’s untimely death July 15, 2012) in the compilation of a comprehensive bibliography of scholarly works on Simone Weil.  The goal of this project is to provide a valuable service to scholars and students in many fields by facilitating access to Weilian resources across disciplinary, geographic, and linguistic divides.  Publications worldwide have been surveyed. Over 5500 works have been discovered.  This online version of the bibliography currently lists more than 5000 book, essays, journal articles, and theses.

I dedicate my continuing efforts on this project to the memory of my dear friend and colleague Debra Jensen.

University of Calgary online library of resources

Attending: An Ethical Art

Warren Heiti, editor read

Attending – patient contemplation focused on a particular being – is a central ethical activity that has not been recognized by any of the main moral systems in the European philosophical tradition. That tradition has imagined that the moral agent is primarily a problem solver and world changer when what might be needed most is a witness.

Moral theory has been agonized by dualism – motivation is analyzed into beliefs and desires, descriptions of facts and dissatisfactions with them, while action is represented as an effort to lessen dissatisfaction by altering the empirical world. In Attending Warren Heiti traces an alternative genealogy of ethics, drawing from the Platonism recovered by Simone Weil and developed in the work of Iris Murdoch, John McDowell, and Jan Zwicky. According to Weil, virtue is knowledge, knowledge is embodied, and the knower is nested in an ecosystem of relationships. Instead of analyzing and solving theoretical problems, Heiti aims to clarify the terrain by setting up objects of attention from more than one discipline, including not only philosophy but also literature, psychology, film, and visual art.

The traditional picture captures one important type of ethical activity: faced with a moral problem, one looks to a general rule to furnish the solution. But not all problems conform to this model. Heiti offers an alternative: to see what is needed, one attends to the particular being.

Warren Heiti is a Professor of philosophy and liberal studies at Vancouver Island University.

McGill-Queen’s University Press, July 15, 2021

Theatre as Creative Failure: Simone Weil’s Venise sauvée Revisited

Thomas Sojer read

Abstract: Simone Weil’s dramatic criticism and dramatic writing offer a way of reconceptualizing what it means to engage critically under fascist censorship. This essay explores her closet drama Venise sauvée as an example of her embrace of writing political resistance in a time when classical theatre criticism was absent and artistic resistance had been made futile. Simone Weil called for an awakening in the audience to acknowledge their responsibility of how they let theatre shape their way of thinking about war. I demonstrate that Weilian theatre theory does not only consider the stage an object to be analyzed, but also the very subject through whose lenses one can undertake a critical reshaping of ways to interpret the world. In this dramatic view on WW II Weil exhibits the artistic voices of resistance in occupied France as caught in its own echo chambers and thus no longer perceptible in society. The essay reads her unfinished historical tragedy Venise sauvée and its central motif of the silenced voice of resistance as an implicit warning to the contemporary théâtre resistant to become the agent of its own irrelevance. I propose that beyond this warning there lies a theory of deconstructing propaganda theatre by unleashing the creative power of theatre’s failure, namely via a distortion of the socially synchronized inner and outer stage of the audience.

Platform, Vol. 13, No. 1, On Criticism, Autumn 2019, pp. 17-30

The Intimacy and Resilience of Invisible Friendship: Marie-Magdeleine Davy and Simone Weil

Brenna Moore read

The title comes from chapter 4 of Brenna Moore’s new book, Kindred Spirits: Friendship and Resistance at the Edges of Modern Catholicism, Chicago: University of Chicago Press (2021) pp. 145-171. In it, Moore focuses on the bond between French medievalist Marie Magdeleine Davy (1903-1998) and Simone Weil. Davy and Weil were acquaintances, but after Weil’s death, Davy dedicated significant scholarly attention to Weil’s thought and life. She authored one of the first books on Weil in 1951, lifting her up as a model for a new kind of sanctity in the modern world. In the late 1950s and ’60s, Davy’s projects were animated by what Moore calls an “invisible friendship” with Weil. Spurred on by memories of Weil, in 1962 Davy created an experimental utopian community for international students in rural France, the Maison Simone Weil, in her friend’s honor. As Moore puts it, “Simone Weil, more than anyone else, was Marie-Magdeleine Davy’s invisible friend, her inner guide, and her saint.” The story uncovers one of the many fascinating afterlives of Simone Weil, one that has not yet been told to English-speaking readers.