The Need for Roots Prelude to a Declaration of Duties Towards Mankind
Hailed by Andre Gide as the patron saint of all outsiders, Simone Weil's short life was ample testimony to her beliefs. In 1942 she fled France along with her family, going firstly to America. She then moved back to London in order to work with de Gaulle. Published posthumously The Need for Roots was a direct result of this collaboration. Its purpose was to help rebuild France after the war. In this, her most famous book, Weil reflects on the importance of religious and political social structures in the life of the individual. She wrote that one of the basic obligations we have as human beings is to not let another suffer from hunger. Equally as important, however, is our duty towards our community: we may have declared various human rights, but we have overlooked the obligations and this has left us self-righteous and rootless. She could easily have been issuing a direct warning to us today, the citizens of Century 21.
'We must simply expose ourselves to the personality of a woman of genius, of a kind of genius akin to that of the saints.' - T.S. Eliot in the Preface
'What is required if men and women are to feel at home in society and are to recover their vitality? Into wrestling with that question, Simone Weil put the very substance of her mind and temperament. The apparently solid edifices of our prepossessions fall down before her onslaught like ninepins, and she is as fertile and forthright in her positive suggestions . . . she can be relied upon to toss aside the superficial and to come to grips with the essential and the profound.' - Times Literary Supplement