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Dark Night of the Soul: A Masterpiece in the Literature of Mysticism by St. John of the Cross Paperback – January 11, 1959


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 193 pages
  • Publisher: Image; Reprint edition (January 11, 1959)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385029306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385029308
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

As a Carmelite monk, the 16th-century Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross was well trained in the systematic theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. In Dark Night of the Soul, St. John's sharply organized mind gives clean shape to his mystical belief in a loving Being somewhere outside the realm of feeling, thought, or imagination, who can only be known through love. Dark Night of the Soul describes the process of purgation, first of senses, and then of spirit, that precedes the soul's loving Union with God. To quote from this book would detract from the coiled power of its tightly focused picture of the soul's progress; suffice it to say that there has never been a better book for discouraged Christians. When you cannot understand what or why you believe, but you find yourself unable to abandon faith, look to St. John for help. --Michael Joseph Gross

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Spanish

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Customer Reviews

As a translation, it is quite good.
Candace E. Barnes
In The Spiritual Canticle and The Living Flame of Love, where John treats more explicitly of union with God, he does so in terms of lover and Beloved.
ecclesia_semper_reformanda_est
The work is about an excrutiating and almost indescribable journey, and a book about such a subject should by no means be a light afternoon read.
Oddsfish

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

283 of 289 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth G. Melillo VINE VOICE on October 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
John of the Cross's writings show the total intensity and detachment of one who has reached a point of union with God that is a sheer gift of grace. The Dark Night of the Soul is among the greatest writings of mystic theology and experience, and highly recommended for those who have some understanding of the concepts of which he writes. The total turning of the will to God, to a point where nothing on earth can satisfy the lover except union with the Beloved, is a marvellous and deeply moving "sight" - and the exquisite poetry here is one of the best expressions in the history of Christianity.
This said, it is essential that one have background in order to understand this work. (More easily understood introductions, such as Thomas Dubay's "Fire Within," should precede reading the Dark Night.) John is by no means writing of depression or misery, nor is his path one which is common to all (or indeed many) Christians. Let the serious Christian seeker approach this work with humility - it pre-supposes knowledge and an openness to divine love that is far from universal. And, above all, take John's cautions against self-deception to heart as much as he did.
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165 of 169 people found the following review helpful By ecclesia_semper_reformanda_est on October 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
By Sister Elizabeth Ruth, O.D.C., Carmel of Our Lady of Walsingham, Norfolk
St. John of the Cross is known as the Mystical Doctor, because in a pre-eminent way he is the director of men on their interior journey towards God. As a spiritual guide and deeply religious man, trained in theology at the best Spanish universities of his day, he was able, as few others, to elucidate scripturally and doctrinally the ways of the Lord.
Primarily, though, he is a poet, and his poetry speaks for itself in deeply symbolic language, the language of love. He is also a man of his country and era. His two poles Toda-Nada, All-Nothing, no doubt were associated for him with the rugged beauty of Castile--the blazing Spanish sky above arid ground, with the sun glinting upon walled cities, the freezing night with brigands concealed in the darkness.
John and Spain speak the language of extremes, just as St. Francis of Assisi was a man of the Umbrian hills set with flowers and vines among shaded valleys. There is a tendency to contrast the harshness of one with the sweetness of the other, but this is to do a disservice to both. Both at heart are similar because they see the way to God as the way of giving all-desiring nothing but him, and letting the rest go: "My God and my All."
In this, Jesus Christ is the model, and there is no spiritual growth apart from the earnest imitation of him. "Be continually careful and earnest in imitating Christ in everything, making your life conform to his," John writes in The Ascent of Mount Carmel, almost as a key sentence. Only in this light can we understand his insistence on the denial of desires.
What he has in mind are all those selfish and self-seeking ways we go about trying to have God and what we want as well.
Read more ›
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124 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Oddsfish VINE VOICE on January 2, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First of all, I don't understand why anybody would complain about the language of this translation. The work is about an excrutiating and almost indescribable journey, and a book about such a subject should by no means be a light afternoon read. The very language of Dark Night of the Soul calls for intense engagement and is a fruitful exercise in itself. Furthermore, this language has an extraordinarily authentic quality that conveys something of the mystery St John of the Cross is pursuing.

The work also gives so much to think about. I don't know that I agree with everything, but that's fine, and St John himself notes that each journey toward God will be somewhat different. But there is a lot that appeals to me. Truly, the journey toward God can be difficult. Reading about any character in the Bible from Abraham to David to Jesus confirms this. Life is such a strange mixture of the presence of God and the (at least seeming) absense, and persevering toward union with God means getting through these agonizing periods. In this book, St John of the Cross gives great hope as he accounts for those dark times and provides a framework for getting through them. This isn't a light read, and it is certainly a book that needs multiple readings. Nevertheless, it gives you a lot to think about and is ultimately well worth the effort.
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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
The first time I attempted this book it was beyond me. After I had experienced a great tragedy in my life, however, I was more in tune with what St. John was talking about. Sometimes God must remove all of our props to get us to love Him, rather than the goodies He can give us. This may even include having to undergo a purging of the senses, and long periods of depression. My prayer to God for a long time has been, "Lord, whatever it takes, make me a man of God". Sometimes I have a hard time dealing with the "whatever it takes" part, but it's well worth it. Find a quiet place alone and read this book.
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By C. Stephans VINE VOICE on January 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
Dark Night of the Soul captures startling insights into the path of holiness and purity---the path of knowing God. St. John of the Cross illustrates the product of his earnest seeking of God in this book that seems to gain wisdom and understanding that are on a level rarely if ever seen in books.

I was literally amazed at how this book explained the events I had experienced on my spiritual journey. Unlike most books that speak of blessings, man's abilities, reaching goals through God, this book focuses on the time in the desert, the purging of man's heart, the dying to all things not of God, the journey in the valley of the shadow of death, and the purposes of God for our soul. It offers the reader a different view of spirituality than the modern books, because like few men or women before him or since, St. John of the Cross shunned the pleasures of the world to gain the fullness of God's presence.

His writing is sometimes difficult to read because it is so heavy with spritual wisdom and assumes a high level of spiritual and theological maturity in the reader. I read more than a few lines several times before I got the point--I read this over several weeks...a chapter or so at a time.

I recommend this for readers seeking a closer relationship for God and for those seeking understanding about spiritually dry and difficult times in their lives. No other book I have read offers such a deep description of times when God seems distant and his blessings amiss.

St. John of the Cross inspires one to seek God more fully and in earnest.
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