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Beschreibung des Verlags
From the best-selling novelist and memoirist: a deeply personal view of her discovery of the celebrated modern monk and thinker through his writings.
“If Thomas Merton had been a writer and not a monk, we would never have heard of him. If Thomas Merton had been a monk and not a writer, we would never have heard of him.”
So begins acclaimed author Mary Gordon in this probing, candid exploration of the man who became the face and voice of mid-twentieth-century American Catholicism. Approaching Merton “writer to writer,” Gordon illuminates his life and work through his letters, journals, autobiography, and fiction. Pope Francis has celebrated Merton as “a man of dialogue,” and here Gordon shows that the dialogue was as much internal as external—an unending conversation, and at times a heated conflict, between Merton the monk and Merton the writer.
Rich with excerpts from Merton’s own writing, On Thomas Merton produces an intimate portrait of a man who “lived life in all its imperfectability, reaching toward it in exaltation, pulling back in anguish, but insisting on the primacy of his praise as a man of God.”
This brilliant, incisive work from biographer, novelist, and memoirist Gordon (Reading Jesus) examines the relationship and tension between 20th-century Christian philosopher Thomas Merton's dual roles as writer and monk. Gordon approaches her subject through four facets of Merton's writing life: his relationship with the church that censored him; his bestselling memoir, The Seven-Story Mountain; his novel My Argument with the Gestapo; and his private journals (which Gordon quotes from extensively). The author depicts a man often in conflict with himself and his church, a man who felt compelled to write and yet who hated being pressured to write: "I am sickened by being treated as an article for sale, as a commodity... God have mercy on me," and later, "Today I feel hateful, and miserable, exhausted, and I would gladly die... Abbot Dom James is in absolute control of a bird that everyone wants to hear sing." The section on his journals, where Merton expressed himself freely, is the strongest part of the book particularly Gordon's reaction to entries written shortly before Merton's death in 1968. "Because this flawed mess of a man lived every day with fullness, with a heartfelt passion," Gordon writes, "I close the journal, and I weep." Readers will be just as affected by this intelligent, moving book.