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A Search for Solitude: Pursuing the Monk's True LifeThe Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume 3: 1952-1960 Paperback – February 27, 1997

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A Search for Solitude: Pursuing the Monk's True LifeThe Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume 3: 1952-1960 + Turning Toward the World: The Pivotal Years (The Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume 4: 1960-1963) + The Other Side of the Mountain: The End of the Journey (The Journals of Thomas Merton)
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Product Details

  • Series: The Journals of Thomas Merton (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (February 27, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060654791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060654795
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #589,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A Cistercian monk and author of the bestselling The Seven Storey Mountain, Merton records in his plain journal voice the struggles of a soul wrestling with both his vocation and his location, the Abbey of Our Lady of Gesthsemani near Bardstown,Ky. The journal pages are filled with spiritual ruminations, catalogues of Merton's correspondences and his reaction to them, lists of encounters with his fellows constrained by the discipline of the Abbey, his hopes for relocation to a mountaintop hermitage and all the day-to-day froth thst sits atop the deep currents of Merton's spiritual life. Part commonplace book, part spiritual journal, part diarist's discipline, the journal is both the sediment of his spiritual development and the tool he used to watch himself watching himself. Few readers who encounter this remarkable book will come away unchanged.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The third in this publisher's projected seven-volume publication of Merton's journals contains the monk's reflections on the conflicts between his contemplative life and his worldly life as an activist writer. In these entries, Merton struggles with the ways that his monastic orders restrict his engagement with the public sphere. Here also is a Merton who is increasingly drawn to Zen Buddhism, Russian spirituality, and Latin American writers like Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal. In addition, these entries reveal the embryonic form of Merton's classic Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (1966). Merton's lucid prose sparkles with a wealth of great social and contemplative vision. Highly recommended.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has millions of copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race.

After a rambunctious youth and adolescence, Merton converted to Roman Catholicism and entered the Abbey of Gethsemani, a community of monks belonging to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists), the most ascetic Roman Catholic monastic order.

The twenty-seven years he spent in Gethsemani brought about profound changes in his self-understanding. This ongoing conversion impelled him into the political arena, where he became, according to Daniel Berrigan, the conscience of the peace movement of the 1960's. Referring to race and peace as the two most urgent issues of our time, Merton was a strong supporter of the nonviolent civil rights movement, which he called "certainly the greatest example of Christian faith in action in the social history of the United States." For his social activism Merton endured severe criticism, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike, who assailed his political writings as unbecoming of a monk.

During his last years, he became deeply interested in Asian religions, particularly Zen Buddhism, and in promoting East-West dialogue. After several meetings with Merton during the American monk's trip to the Far East in 1968, the Dali Lama praised him as having a more profound understanding of Buddhism than any other Christian he had known. It was during this trip to a conference on East-West monastic dialogue that Merton died, in Bangkok on December 10, 1968, the victim of an accidental electrocution. The date marked the twenty-seventh anniversary of his entrance to Gethsemani.

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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 17, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Volume three of the complete journals of Thomas Merton - A Search for Solitude: Pursuing the Monk's True Life, edited by Lawrence S. Cunningham - follows on from where volume two ended with an entry dated July 25, 1952 and concludes in May 1960.
The title given to this volume does not reflect the turbulence Merton was experiencing in the years covered by this journal. "Searching for Solitude" and "Pursuing the Monk's True Life" were not easy tasks for Thomas Merton. In The Sign of Jonas Merton battles with his dual vocations of being a solitary and a writer and, by the end of the journal, having discovered solitude both through writing and through his work as Master of Scholastics, the impression Merton gives in his masterful epilogue to Jonas, "Fire Watch, July 4, 1952", is that his problems over his vocation have been resolved. As Michael Mott and William Shannon have made clear in their biographies of Merton this was certainly not true. As Shannon notes, "The Sign of Jonas ends when the struggle is just beginning to warm up" for Merton's "most serious crisis of stability yet" and this is where the third volume of journals begins.
Beginning with July 1952 this volume goes up to March 1953 where there is a break up until July 17, 1956 when the journal begins again. Cunningham provides no explanation for the missing years simply stating Merton "kept rather brief journal entries in the last months of 1952 and in 1953, with a hiatus in 1954-1955." (xiii) My major criticism of this volume is that no attempt at an explanation is provided for this hiatus.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tetleylee on January 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having bought and read some of Thomas Merton's earlier, marvellous journals, I purchased A Search for Solitude for my Kindle, but so far am struggling to enjoy it as much as his previous work. It is not the journal itself. From what I have read so far, A Search for Solitude contains Merton's usual brilliant insights and writing, and reflects the conflicts and contradictions he was experiencing at that time in his life, between his desire for the contemplative hermit life and wanting to engage with and influence the outside world and its ever growing social issues. I don't think Merton's writing lends itself to the Kindle format however. For one, there no index to the book, which I find perplexing in a work of this nature and a real disadvantage to reading, as I often like to dip into journals more by subject matter than read chronologically. And secondly, Merton's wonderful words and thoughts come across as somehow flat and sterile on the electronic screen when compared to a hard copy. It probably seems illogical, and usually I enjoy reading my Kindle as much as a real book, but for some reason, Merton's rich prose and religious philosophy is so much more suited to the printed page, where one can slowly savour each entry and walk with Merton during some of the most tumultuous and difficult years of his life. 5 stars for the journal but 3 for the format. An interactive index is essential for a work such as this and at this price as well.
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