Live Free With Etty Hillesum

Original title: Vivre libre avec Etty Hillesum

Publication Date:

March 2018



Original language and publisher

French | Tallandier


History, Religion & Spirituality

Live Free With Etty Hillesum

Original title: Vivre libre avec Etty Hillesum

  • 2 Seas Represents: Dutch, Nordic and North American rights.


How can we live a more fulfilled and freer life? This is the big question addressed in this original and thought-provoking book centred on the tragically short life and spiritual awakening of Etty Hillesum, who perished at Auschwitz at the age of 29.

Etty Hillesum, a young Dutch Jew with a remarkable force of character, had a bewitching thirst for freedom and a craving for the absolute. At the age of 27, on the recommendation of her psychotherapist, she began to keep a diary in which she recorded her observations of the Netherlands under the Nazi occupation and her own emotional and spiritual development.

In 1943, she and her family were deported to Auschwitz and murdered. Ten of her notebooks were recovered after her death and posthumously published in the best-selling An Interrupted Life, whose incandescent prose testifies to the dizzying spiritual awakening she experienced amidst the sheer horror of the concentration camps.

Etty Hillesum experienced first-hand some of the most dramatic and tragic events of the 20th century, and her path towards personal wisdom and inner freedom is still of great relevance to us all today. Referencing figures as diverse as Rilke, Dostoyevsky, Jung and Saint Augustine, Cécilia Dutter draws out the messages contained in this remarkable young woman’s writings to produce an intelligent and sensitive guide to personal development.

As Cécilia Dutter says, a freer life passes through three stages. The first indispensable step is to discover ourselves and to learn how to lead a more mindful life in the present moment. Once we have done this, we need to turn our gaze outward, embrace the possibility of love and empathy and thereby ward off the deadly temptations of hatred and resentment. Only then will it be possible to open our hearts up to the absolute and to invite the divine into our finite existences.

Cécilia Dutter is a novelist, essayist and the author of the definitive and critically acclaimed biography of Etty Hillesum (Etty Hillesum, une voix dans la nuit, 2010). Her aim in this book is to render accessible to everyone the philosophy of life embraced by this extraordinary young woman.