Mark Shiffman at Front Porch Republic:
Born in 1909 to secular Jewish Parisians, at age 10 Simone Weil was memorizing Racine and marching in labor union protests. She attended the École Normale and then briefly taught philosophy to lycée girls, serving on weekends as a volunteer educator for members of the working class. Observing first-hand the rise of totalitarianism in Germany, she recognized early its similarity to Stalin’s Russia (leading to her break with the ideologically-blinded Communist Party). She worked in factories and on farms to understand firsthand the conditions of contemporary laborers and the spiritual dimension of work. In 1942, after escorting her parents to New York, she obtained a position with the Gaullists in London. There, before her death in 1943, she wrote her most famous book, The Need for Roots (L’Enracinement) as a contribution to the discussion of principles that ought to guide and animate the Fourth Republic. She wrote many brilliant short works, publishing very little and entrusting the manuscripts to friends.
Weil might be described as an Augustinian Platonist, enriched by Nietzsche, Marx, tragic and Vedic literature and John of the Cross, and sometimes narrowed by Descartes, Pascal, Kant and her own intense antipathies (e.g. for Aristotle). Like Augustine, her lifelong quest is for liberation from self-enclosure.