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Echoing Silence: Thomas Merton on the Vocation of Writing [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   215
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.42" Width: 5.58" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 13, 2007
Publisher   New Seeds
ISBN  1590303482  
EAN  9781590303481  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
When Thomas Merton entered a Trappist monastery in December 1941, he turned his back on secular life--including a very promising literary career. He sent his journals, a novel-in-progess, and copies of all his poems to his mentor, Columbia professor Mark Van Doren, for safe keeping, fully expecting to write little, if anything, ever again. It was a relatively short-lived resolution, for Merton almost immediately found himself being assigned writing tasks by his Abbot--one of which was the autobiographical essay that blossomed into his international best-seller "The Seven Storey Mountain." That book made him famous overnight, and for a time he struggled with the notion that the vocation of the monk and the vocation of the writer were incompatible. Monasticism called for complete surrender to the absolute, whereas writing demanded a tactical withdrawal from experience in order to record it. He eventually came to accept his dual vocation as two sides of the same spiritual coin and used it as a source of creative tension the rest of his life. Merton's thoughts on writing have never been compiled into a single volume until now. Robert Inchausti has mined the vast Merton literature to discover what he had to say on a whole spectrum of literary topics, including writing as a spiritual calling, the role of the Christian writer in a secular society, the joys and mysteries of poetry, and evaluations of his own literary work. Also included are fascinating glimpses of his take on a range of other writers, including Henry David Thoreau, Flannery O'Connor, Dylan Thomas, Albert Camus, James Joyce, and even Henry Miller, along with many others.

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More About Thomas Merton & Robert Inchausti

Thomas Merton Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a Trappist monk, spiritual director, political activist, social critic, and one of the most-read spiritual writers of the twentieth century. He is the author of many books, including The Seven Storey Mountain.

Thomas Merton was born in 1915 and died in 1968.

Thomas Merton has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Monastic Wisdom

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1Books > Subjects > Reference > Publishing & Books > Authorship   [273  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
MoreThan Just Writing  Sep 11, 2007
I treasure every Thomas Merton book I read. His simple, clear language,humility,and great piety draw one instantly into an appreciation his monastic life and his relationship to the world. He shows us how to encounter God's love in our own lives,and his book on writing makes clear that writing must come from the true self, the self as created by God. And he does this right in the middle of the world. To be a saint, Merton said, a man must first become himself. This also applies to writers who, if they are to accomplish the task of communicating, must communicate God.
Merton and vocation  May 15, 2007
"Only in His silence can the truth of words be distinguished" is only one of the many aphoristic gems to be found in this collection of Merton writings edited by Robert Inchausti. Overall, it is a fine collection, but unfortunately, it is only a collection. Merton's vocation as a writer was hardly an easy calling. "Echoing Silence" does reveal those difficulties, but without some biographical narrative or explanatory notes to accompany the selections, one is left to enjoy Merton's profound insights isolated from the larger context. If you are familiar with Merton, you can appreciate the texts dealing with his difficulties in creativity and inner truth, between "writer" and "poet," contemplative monk and world famous author, but if you are new to Merton you will probably come away not fully appreciating the growth Merton went through in dealing with his internal conflicts and finding his "voice." His external conflicts are also represented here, but without some clarifications from Robert Inchausti, his difficulties with Dom Gabriel Sortais, one of Merton's censors, are lost. I do recommend the book as a good collection, but with reservations owing to its lack of background commentary or explanatory notes.
Always At Heart A Writer  May 12, 2007
Merton's vocation as a writer was at the heart of his Monastic vocation and it is wonderful to have this collection of his own reflections on this subject.
Art and Contemplative Spirituality  Feb 28, 2007
A poignant collection of excerpts of Thomas Merton's writing, spanning his entire monastic writing career: from his journals, personal letters, essays, and books.

Thomas Merton, of course, is an internationally acclaimed and respected writer and contemplative. If you are interested in art (writing and poetry specifically) and contemplative spirituality, or simply interested in Thomas Merton, I highly recommend this book.

Before this book, beginners in the contemplative-artistic scene had to either read about Merton second hand (which is not as enriching as reading him directly) or dive into his mass of writing (which can be disorienting).

The chapters are arranged by topic: Writing as a Spiritual Calling, Poetry, Other Writers, His Own Writing, etc. Inside each chapter, the excerpts are arranged chronologically. The later Merton is deep and balanced--his material is to be chewed by the mature--but at the same time, the thoughts of early Merton are invaluable to young, contemplative-artists. This book represents both--providing, incidentally, a cross section of his personal growth.

This book is one to read all at once to get an overview of Merton (and the development of his thoughts), and then to hold on to for years, rereading small segments.

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