Below are publisher's notes for the "Entretiens", also known as "Mother's Questions and Answers".
1929: In 1929 the Mother met weekly with a small group of disciples. After a period of meditation she answered questions raised by them. Most of these questions were asked by an Englishwoman who was living in the Ashram at that time. One of those present noted down the conversations immediately afterwards and later sent a copy of fifteen of them to Sri Aurobindo, who revised them for publication. They were first brought out for private circulation in 1931.
1930-1931: During 1930 and 1931 the Mother spoke with a group of disciples who met with her in a room of the Ashram known as Prosperity. One of the participants recorded some of these conversations in abbreviated long-hand and later elaborated his notes. These reports were not revised by Sri Aurobindo or the Mother, but the Mother did approve of their publication and made a French translation. They were first published as a book in 1951.
Appendix: This appendix contains Sri Aurobindo’s explanations of certain phrases and passages in Questions and Answers 1929. They were written to various disciples between 1933 and 1937.
This volume consists of talks given by the Mother in 1950 and 1951 to the students of her French class as well as some sadhaks of the Ashram. She usually began by reading out a passage from one of her works or her French translation of one of Sri Aurobindo’s works, and then invited questions. During this period the Mother discussed several of her recent essays on education, her conversations of 1929, some letters of Sri Aurobindo and his small book The Mother.
It is worth tracing the origin of the Mother’s French class, in which these talks were given. The Ashram school was founded by the Mother in 1943, and by the end of the decade its first students had learned French fairly well. As more and more children joined the school, there were not enough teachers in French. When the new school year began in December 1950, the Mother decided to take the highest class in French three times a week. At first she spoke to the students and some of the teachers, but gradually many sadhaks of the Ashram were allowed to join the class. As a result, the questions they asked arose from many different levels of understanding.
For most of this year the Mother discussed her talks of 1929.
The Mother’s French classes cover the eight-year period from 1950 to 1958. The Wednesday classes of 1950-51 and 1953-58 comprise the “Questions and Answers” talks. Between June 1951 and March 1953 these classes were replaced by “translation classes” in which the Mother translated into French several of Sri Aurobindo’s works, including The Ideal of Human Unity, The Human Cycle, part of The Synthesis of Yoga and the last six chapters of The Life Divine. During this period, she continued to speak informally with the students, but what she said was not tape-recorded.
For most of 1957 the Mother discussed the second part of Thoughts and Glimpses and the essays in The Supramental Manifestation upon Earth. From October 1957 to November 1958 she took up two of the final chapters of The Life Divine. These conversations comprise the last of the Mother’s “Wednesday classes”, which began in 1950.