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Dangerous Desire by Annie Seaton
Dangerous Desire. Sarah Holland.
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Synopsis Book by Holland, Sarah "synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title. Buy Used Condition: Fair A readable copy of the book which Learn more about this copy. Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Search for all books with this author and title. In , when the tide of war indicated an Allied victory, she prepared a paper for the Free French administration in London on the governing of France after liberation in which she wrote that the existence of an officially recognised Jewish minority "does not represent a good thing; thus the objective must be to bring about its disappearance" by total assimilation into French society in general.
The Weil parents were loving to the point of suffocation. Simone had been a sickly baby who, when she was weaned at 11 months, refused to eat solid foods to the point that the doctors expected her to die. Mme Weil guarded her children obsessively against contamination or infection. She would not allow them to be kissed by anyone outside the family, and encouraged compulsive hand-washing. The two children were extraordinarily precocious; in fact, in their different ways they were both geniuses. They conversed together in Latin and Greek, and read the French classics and the ancient tragedians and philosophers; they discussed astronomy on the tram.
They fought, too, "in the deepest silence", Mme Weil recalled, "so as not to attract our attention. We heard only a shuffling; never a shout. When we came into the room, they'd be pale and shaking, each holding the other by the hair". Simone was a dedicated student. Alain came from the Normandy working class, and encouraged his pupils to flout bourgeois conventions.
He was a Cartesian, teaching, as Gray puts it, "that doubt is the true agent of enlightenment", a lesson that Simone Weil never forgot. It was to Alain that she sent her first major work, Oppression and Liberty, which she wrote in it is available in English in the recently published Routledge Classics series. Alain's brand of patriotic socialism had a deep appeal for Weil, who all her life was tormented by the thought of poverty and injustice in the world at large - in her youth she refused to eat more than the barest minimum because, she said, the Indochinese were starving.
Her attitude to food, however, had deeper sources than extreme humanitarianism. Although she tried to live healthily, and take exercise - she joined the first women's rugby team in France! She was, in plain terms, anorexic, as so many female mystics have been. She was also given to mortification of the flesh; at school her classmates noticed a blackened hole in the back of her hand, where seemingly she had burned herself with a cigarette, either to keep herself awake at her studies, or to test her capacity for pain.
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Although she was firmly of the left, Weil was implacably opposed to the Communist Party and to Soviet Communism in particular, recognising clearly its totalitarian, not to say fascist, nature. She was very active in the trade union movement, not always to the delight of union officials, and in she went to work for a year in a succession of factories, doing the lowest, most soul-destroying menial tasks, which sapped her strength and permanently damaged her health.
She still ate little, refused to heat her room and often slept on makeshift beds and sometimes even on floors. Hers was an inglorious war. Always clumsy, she put her foot into a pot of boiling oil, and was invalided out of the Republican forces. In despair, she returned to her family in Paris to recuperate, which proved a long and painful process. She saw clearly that world war was inevitable, and adopted a militantly pacifist stance, if the oxymoron may be permitted.
In later years, when she recognised the true nature of Hitler and his henchmen, she would come bitterly to regret her pacifism. The French collapse before the German invasion was a terrible blow, one from which she would not recover, allowing her biographer to suggest that "she died out of patiotism, out of sorrow and shame for the fate of France".
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In the same paragraph, however, Gray puts forward a subtler hypothesis: "She died of something that might be called depending on how you look at it an illness - her pathological need to share the sufferings of others". When Paris fell, the Weils fled south to Marseilles, and from there, in , they sailed for New York. Simone hated being in America, and petitioned strenuously to be parachuted into France to join the Resistance, or at least to be allowed to go to London to work for the Free French there. The latter request was eventually granted, but when she got to England she found that what was on offer was hardly more than a clerical post, translating reports from the Resistance and writing the odd position paper.
She grew increasingly weak, and eventually developed glandular tuberculosis. She was taken into a sanatorium in Ashford, in Kent, where she ceased to eat altogether. She died on August 24th, The coroner's report said that "the deceased did kill and slay herself by refusing to eat whilst the balance of her mind was disturbed". In her last weeks Weil had written:. The eternal part of the soul feeds on hunger.
When we do not eat, our organism consumes its own flesh and transforms it into energy.