Saturday, June 6, 2009

Reflections: O'Connor on Weil - Part V: Conclusion

In wrapping up this exercise to introduce Simone Weil to a new readership by way of Flannery O’Connor, I will note that the last mention of Weil in a letter to “A.” was dated 20 July 63. Since O’Connor died on August 4, 1964, it is fair to say that having once been introduced to Weil, O’Connor maintained her interest to the end. O’Connor’s penultimate reference to Weil in the letters was this:

Never read Beauvoir. Never aim to. I think myself that Simone Weil is a trifle monstrous, but the kind of monstrosity that interests me. Indeed.

This has not been my first attempt to introduce Weil to new readers by way of a third party author. Not so long ago I completed another five-part series of posts quoting the whole a short biography of Weil by the novelist, Paul West. It is evident from his treatment of Weil that West, like O’Connor before him, found Weil to be “a trifle monstrous.” Be that as it may. I consider Weil’s biography to be every bit as important to an understanding of my devotion to her as are her writings. I therefore encourage persons who have taken an interest in this series of posts to begin here with a reading of the West bio and scroll up through the other four posts. I will post links to a couple of full-length biographies at the conclusion of this piece.

I find that since I launched Rodak Riffs, almost two years ago, I have written nearly forty posts tagged with the name Simone Weil. Several of these have contained quotes about her by other prominent writers. For instance: Elizabeth Hardwick and T. S. Eliot and Iris Murdoch. I add their recommendations to that of Flannery O’Connor.

I also recommend this previous post, which contains a link to a selection of Weil quotes.

A not-so-random sampling of previous posts featuring my application of Weil’s writings to whatever I was thinking about at the time, can be reviewed here and here and here and here and here and here. A bit of scrolling around in the Rodak Riffs archives for 2007 and 2008 will uncover a couple dozen more.

Of biographies, the one by her friend, Simone Pétrement, is probably considered the standard work. It is also the most hagiographic. My personal library also holds biographies by Robert Coles, Gabriella Fiori, David McClellan, and Francine du Plessix Gray. I can recommend them all, noting that some (e.g., Coles, du Plessix Gray) are less sympathetic to Weil’s “monstrosity” than others.

There: I’ve done what I can.