Simone Weil (1909–1943) was one of the first female graduates of the École Normale Supérieure and taught philosophy in provincial schools from 1931 to 1938. A socialist, she worked for a time on the Renault assembly line and volunteered to fight against the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. In 1938, a mystical vision led Weil to convert to Roman Catholicism, though she refused the sacrament of baptism. Weil fled France for the United States in 1942, where, in solidarity with the people of Occupied France, she drastically limited her intake of food, so hastening her early death from tuberculosis.
These essays do more than prove the permanent relevance of Homer’s great poem. They analyze the logic of war itself, and explore how intoxicating violence defines the human condition.