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Dark Night of the Soul Paperback – February 4, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade; Reprint edition (February 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573229741
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573229746
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #490,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Almost every believer feels forgotten by God sometimes. Even Christ cried out on the cross, "Oh God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Dark Night of the Soul, a 16th-century mystical text written by the Carmelite monk St. John of the Cross, ranks among Christianity’s most helpful answers to this enduring question. In St. John’s vision of spiritual life, the pain of separation from God is to be embraced, not avoided. "The dark night is about being fully present in the tender, wounded emptiness of our own souls," explains translator Mirabai Starr--although she grants that modern culture makes such acceptance hard to attain. "We tend to see difficult feelings as a form of illness, which we hope to conquer, cure, and expel. [St. John of the Cross] has a far greater imagination of human life: his goal is not health but union with the divine." Several fine English translations of Dark Night already exist; Starr’s, however, is distinguished by its ecumenism. Minimizing the explicit scriptural references of the original text, she makes the treasures of Dark Night more accessible to readers of all religious traditions. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Along with Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross remains one of the West's most well-known and beloved mystics. And like Teresa's, his writings are masterpieces of ecstatic poetry, depicting a lover the soul that seeks union with the Beloved, God. Starr, who teaches philosophy and religious studies at the University of New Mexico, offers an engaging and evocative new translation of John's most famous treatise, "Dark Night of the Soul." Composed as a result of his imprisonment, it follows the soul's journey from a state of abandonment and darkness to its profound ecstasy in finding God waiting to receive it. In order for the soul to achieve this rapturous union, John instructs, it must give up its complacent practice of prayer or other spiritual routines that separate it from a full union with God. John's now-classic spiritual commentary urges us to find rest in the emptiness of the dark night and to abandon ourselves to the love that is present at the center of this emptiness. Although John wrote "Dark Night of the Soul" for his Christian brothers and sisters, his rapturous mysticism provides a way to union with the divine for a wide variety of spiritual seekers. As Starr points out in her introduction, John's abandonment of self in order to achieve union with the Other mirrors contemporary spiritual practices of Buddhism and Hinduism. Starr's lyrical translation and her thoughtful introduction bring new life to John's powerful treatise on the life of the soul. (Feb. 18)Forecast: Although E. Allison Peers's monumental translation of "Dark Night of the Soul" remains definitive, it is wooden and literal, and emphasizes John's place in Christian theology and spirituality. Starr's lively translation transcends the narrowness of Peers's to reach a wide audience of contemporary spiritual seekers.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 84 people found the following review helpful By tim_farrington on June 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
John of the Cross is, for me, quite simply the crucial Christian contemplative; his dark night spirituality is still the absolute state of the art for anyone beyond the feel-good phase of a life of prayer. My copy of the excellent Cavanaugh-Rodriquez translation of John's collected works (which is the definitive scholarly translation, in my opinion, not the Peers version) is so well-thumbed it has to be be held together by tape. But I've always hesitated to recommend the works of John of the Cross even to people I am sure would benefit by his wisdom, because his writing is extremely difficult, a somewhat windy, dry, and arcane 16th-century style, dense with scriptural allusion and theological citation, repetitive, and, in several cases, literally unfinished. Mirabai Starr is clearly the gifted editor John has been waiting for. Her poet's ear and mystic's heart are just what was needed to bring the depth, lucidity, and loving essence of John's most famous work into a form that is accessible at last to a wider range of contemporary seekers. Her translation of "The Dark Night," and her beautiful and wise introduction, are exquisitely lucid. The language is fresh, the pacing crisp, and even the most difficult passages are made clear and musical, capturing both the joy and the genuine, sometimes terrifying challenge of the soul's journey into the deepest mysteries of God, into what T.S. Eliot, another Christian mystic who could sometimes use a translator, called "a condition of complete simplicity, costing not less than everything." Mirabai has shown us both the simplcity, and the absolute cost, of the deepest spirituality, in this gorgeous gift of a book, this labor of love, which seems to me to be destined to become a classic.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on February 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Next to Holy Scripture that is, but then again I do not consider the Bible to be compared with any other human work.
PROS - The first time I read DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL I couldn't understand it, but could tell it contained something worth study. The second time I read it, I began to glimpse that it spoke of something beyond me, but extremely important. The third time I read it, it made my theology feel like that of a preschooler. I finally went to stay in a monastery for a few days so I could be tutored in understanding this book. The next time I read it, it began to make sense. Though it is still over my head, today this is my all time favorite book, no matter who does the translation.
CONS - That being said, translation is very important to understanding this book. John was distinctly Christian. Any attempt to universalize his writings might yield something of value, but of far less value than John intended. Mirabai Starr's translation minimizes Christian references intentionally.
VERDICT - I personally give this and all other translations 5 stars. I am happy to have this translation in my library. However, it lacks some of the punch of others I have studied.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. Garza on January 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
A great book with a very open mind on the form of the divine. A must read for persons seeking to deepen and mature their spiritual journey in the way of Christ. Get it!! It helps to know Spanish to read the whole poem in the begining.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By TOM CORBETT on October 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
this little book just blew my mind and heart. i only finished it yesterday, but my heart has been burning with the pain and bliss of the fire of gods love since reading it. awesome.

always interesting. starts slowly and then just blasts off into the stratosphere on the ignition of chapter ten!

this book is largely about the pain of the dark night of the soul.

1. suffering is difficulty (definition)
2. suffering is neither here nor there.
3. suffering is in what you do. (cause/solution)

God does not cause suffering, rather suffering is in what we do. it is not here nor there. not in earthquakes, pain, or death. suffering is in what you do.

thank you mirabai, thank you, thank you, thank you!

love, from, snow-flake. xxx
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sherrie W. Odom on March 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
Dark Night of the Soul was of tremendous help during a time when I lost two very dear friends: both of them very young. This presented a "crisis of faith" for me and this book helped me to walk in faith during a time when these two deaths made no sense at all in this world. Not a "quick read" at all, but one well worth it!
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Mariani on December 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
St. John of the Cross was deeply Catholic. The translator has purposefully tried to remove this book from its Catholic roots and make a more universally acceptable translation. That may be fine for non-Catholic readers, though it does lessen the real truths behind what St. John wrote, but I would not recommend this translation to Catholic readers.
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32 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Caleb M. Harris on November 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
I give the spanish version a 5 star rating but this english version a 1 star.

At least she gave us some warning in the preface and introduction but personally; when John writes "El diablo" I see no reason to impose your own beliefs into a translation and make "The devil" = "the fragmented self".

I feel I might re-translate all of "Les Miserables" and make it say what I think it should say in english! How about that!

Translate, let us think for ourselves.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Catholic Church has over the millennia been blessed with countless holy men and women who have enriched her spiritual patrimony with their timeless insights. Saint John of the Cross is one of the giants of this venerable tradition, and "Dark Night of the Soul" is one of his best-known works.

The term "dark night" often refers to spiritual dryness or a crisis in one's religious progress in life. Many saints have experienced such episodes, and for most of them they only lasted for a very short period of time. For some, on the other hand, these experiences lasted for the most of their adult lives. This just goes to show that such experiences are not uncommon, and even some of the most pious and godly individuals may go through them in the course of their lives.

"Dark Night of the Soul" was originally written as a poem while St. John was imprisoned for his efforts to reform the Carmelite order. In subsequent years he elaborated on the verses, and the result is this fascinating little book. It combines beautiful and moving poetry with deep insights into human spiritual and psychological makeup. St. John is considered a mystic, and reading this book can make you see why. The book can be extremely challenging, and it is not to be read casually. However, if you are willing to put the time and an effort into reading it you may find yourself more appreciative of your own spiritual journey and you may acquire necessary tools to help you overcome your own instances of spiritual dryness.
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