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Thomas Merton and James Laughton: Selected Letters [Hardcover]

By James Laughlin (Author) & Thomas Merton (Author)
Our Price $ 29.75  
Retail Value $ 35.00  
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Item Number 158020  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   432
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.63" Width: 5.46" Height: 1.45"
Weight:   1.34 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 30, 1997
Publisher   W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN  0393040690  
EAN  9780393040692  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The remarkable development of Thomas Merton--monk, poet, and social critic--as documented in nearly thirty years of correspondence with his publisher. Thomas Merton may have seemed an unlikely candidate for a best-selling author. Cloistered in a remote Kentucky monastery, Merton struggled as a young man to reconcile the contemplative life he sought as a monk and his very public passion for writing. Publisher James Laughlin saw Merton's talent and played the muse, encouraging him with the poems, essays, and diaries of other writers and publishing nearly everything Merton sent in return. Ironically, the very society Merton rejected upon entering the monastery embraced his work, bringing him publishing success only dreamed of by more eager authors. Soon Merton discovered he had a podium, a voice, and a responsibility that weighed as heavily on him as his previous quest for silence. Laughlin's encouragement remained constant throughout, as political ally, publishing adviser, and supporting friend. Nearly thirty years of rich correspondence documents this strong literary and personal relationship and traces the remarkable development of Merton's vision: from an early focus on matters internal and religious, to a tremendous world view encompassing issues of race, politics, war, and the spiritual decay of modern society.

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More About James Laughlin & Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, is perhaps the foremost spiritual thinker of the twentiethcentury. His diaries, social commentary, and spiritual writings continue to be widely read after his untimely death in 1968.

Thomas Merton was born in 1915 and died in 1968.

Thomas Merton has published or released items in the following series...
  1. By Thomas Merton
  2. Cistercian Studies
  3. Gethsemani Studies in Psychological and Religious Anthropolo
  4. Harvest Book
  5. Harvest Book
  6. Harvest/HBJ Book
  7. Image Classic
  8. Journals of Thomas Merton
  9. Modern Library Classics (Paperback)
  10. Modern Spiritual Masters
  11. Monastic Wisdom
  12. New Directions Bibelot
  13. New Directions Books
  14. New Directions Classics
  15. New Directions Paparback
  16. New Directions Paperbook
  17. New Seeds Pocket Classics
  18. Plough Spiritual Classics: Backpack Classics for Modern Pilg

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
The human giant  Nov 27, 2007
I have a friend who says that reading Thomas Merton always makes her feel a little taller. This collection of letters between Thomas Merton and James Laughlin, of New Directions Press, is a good place to begin if you'd like to take a look at the correspondence of one of our most fascinating and prodigious spiritual writers.

While their friendship seemed an unlikely one, it grew into a rich exchange of ideas and affection between two men committed to their ideals.

Given the way most of us take the role of technology in our lives for granted today, Merton can seem almost quaint in concerns such as this: "The splitting of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe." However, this is exactly the kind of sharp, non-sentimental comment that makes me pay attention when Merton is speaking.

While the letters sometimes get a little bogged down in the details of publishing, this is a trivial matter, for the wealth of compassion and depth of thought make this an excellent book to delve into again and again.
but a pretty erroneous introduction by the associate professor of American Thought out of California.

As one who feels Father Louis's death was no accident, it is as irritating as hearing unquestioned assurances of Oswald's guilt, despite other findings which even convinced the US Senate to doubt. In Father Louis's case, during the year in which at least three American prophets of peace and social justice were killed, suspicious circumstances surround his death, including the description of his wounds, and the destruction of evidence, including the unusual immediate uprooting of the garden around the bungalow he was staying in, to remove any footprint evidence. His body was immediately taken by the US military, transported with dead US soldiers from Vietnam and Laos and buried in a closed casket at his monastery in Kentucky, unlike his brother monks who were buried in bedsheets and shrouds. Let us consider this seriously rather than rushing to judgment once more.

Other points in the introduction leave scholars of Merton and Laughlin scratching our heads, but it is very easy to skip over the introduction and jump right into the brilliant and refreshing living waters of the revealing letters themselves.

Unlike other collections of Father M. Louis's private correspondence, I do not feel as guilty here reading his mail, somehow. In fact it is fascinating reading his exchanges with Mr. Laughlin, the very gifted founder of New Directions, his original publisher. We can really see the ins and outs of the publishing world of fifty years ago. Mr. Laughlin remained a kind and a generous and a self-sacrificing human being despite the cut-throat business, and a good friend of Tom's at all times. For these aspects alone it's worthwhile reading. Publishing is no easier now within our tightly controlled conglomerate corporate media world. But who's reading anymore, besides you and me?

I can highly recommend this book to any student of the development of Merton's thought and his growing confidence as a writer, a moral theologian and a firmly courageous prophet for peace and justice, silenced far too soon, but clearly for a purpose, in that hellish year of 1968 in which we lost so many great and holy men.

I also strongly recommend to any tentative writer and great soul other collections of Father M. Louis's correspondence concerning the profession and vocation of writing, such as Echoing Silence and of course Courage for Truth, which includes a more comprehensive collection of his correspondence from a full spectrum of Catholic authors, from Evelyn Waugh to Father Ernesto Cardenal, Merton's former novice and fellow poet.

Merton only gets better with age, and as much as we need his living voice to guide us now in this present time of imperial warfare, we may yet gratefully receive now his long silenced and stilled words, and apply them prayerfully and prophetically with courage for truth to our own troubled times.

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