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Providence: The Story of a Fifty Year Vision Quest Hardcover – May 1, 1995

4.2 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Quinn's novel Ishmael, a cult favorite, elaborated an ecologically sound mythology for our time and won a Ted Turner award for fiction that offers solutions to global problems. In this windy, slow-moving memoir, Quinn summarizes Ishmael's vision of the universe, upholding the spirit-worship practiced by animist peoples as a viable alternative to Christianity and Judaism, religions he views as largely irrelevant. He tells how, as a 19-year-old Trappist novice in Kentucky, he received encouragement from a golden-headed guardian angel but was then ordered to leave the Gethsemani monastery by Thomas Merton, his spiritual director. Then came psychoanalysis in Chicago, a marriage whose failure he blamed on his sexual inadequacies, divorce and a successful career in educational publishing. Quinn's trajectory from "fundamentalist Roman Catholic" to animist marks an unusual odyssey.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Quinn's novel Ishmael (LJ 12/91) won the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship for fiction, which offers solutions for global problems; the book has since garnered a large and devoted following. Providence is Quinn's spiritual autobiography, rendered as a conversation with one of his followers. He uses the events of his life to frame a discussion of religion, history, and education. Quinn relates his search for a unifying vision, beginning with a dream he had as a child and culminating with the ideas expressed in Ishmael. He describes his evolution from a novice Trappist monk under the direction of Thomas Merton to a modern animist prophet. Although Quinn writes with precision and clarity, the conversational tone weakens his exposition. Still, his point of view deserves attention. Libraries where there is interest in Ishmael will want this book.
Wendy Knickerbocker, Rhode Island Coll. Lib., Providence
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 175 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (May 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553100181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553100181
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,385,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By H. Gale on May 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
_Providence_ takes _Ishmael_ to a whole new level by explaining what you can do with yourself after _Ishmael_. Quinn explains that the reason for this work is to fill the void that _Ishmael_ leaves: if it shattered your beliefs (in a good way, of course), _Providence_ gives you something to take its place.
After reading Quinn's first four books, this was welcome, because for me, it fills the void that _Beyond Civilization_ tries to work into, but somehow fails. Many people complain that Quinn never tells you what to do wth these new ideas in his books, and here, he gives the reader ways that he has made them work. I found it very easy to take them and mesh them with my own interests. To find out Quinn's entire argument for saving ourselves and our planet, it's really necessary to read his five major books - if you read this one last, it brings the whole argument together nicely. He just doesn't give you an easy way out. You have to find it for yourself.
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Format: Paperback
For those of you who were also stunned and fascinated by Daniel Quinn's Ishmael, this book is required reading. It tells the marvelous story of how Quinn came to be the man who could write Ishmael. Part mystery, part comedy, Providence keeps you wondering how the story of Quinn's life will end (not completely, of course, just up to the writing of Ishmael). Written in an easy conversational style, Providence is the essential sequel to Ishmael, because it provides an extension and context for the ideas introduced in Ishmael. Read Ishmael first, and then you will read this book over and over again
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Being a Quinn fan, it should come as no surprise that I snapped up this book immediately. It should also come as no surprise that I loved it. Quinn's description of the world on fire brought tears to my eyes...he had had the experience I suspected I too could have. His journey is his own, and I will have my own, my reading about his journey once again reminds me of the joy of being alive, of discovering who you really are.
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By A Customer on January 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
I actually read this book last in the Quinn series. Most people read them in order, starting with Ishmael, then Providence, The Story of B, My Ishmael, Beyond Civilization etc... I skipped Providence because I didn't have the kinds of questions Quinn wrote providence to answer. However, after reading his lastest novel "The Holy" I did have questions. I felt I wanted to know more about the man and his vison and I got this and much more from "Providence". This isn't fiction and Quinn pulls no punches here. An Incredibly moving testament to the animist worldview.
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Format: Paperback
Providence is a worth while book if you are a fan of Daniel Quinn and would like to know where Ishamel came from in his life. It is definately not on the same level as Ishamel, My Ishmael, The Story of B or Beyond Civilization, but it is an interesting look into the man behind the books...
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I know MY eyes were opened real wide by Ishmael, and I found this "story of how Ishmael came to be written" very illuminating. When you realize that Ishmael is the result of fifty years of vision-questing, and not just a quick novel Quinn typed up in response to Ted Turner's offer, it brings about even more respect for the great work Ishmael actually is. I highly recommend this to all fans of Ishmael.
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If you are fan of Daniel Quinn (I am) then you will be interested to see his background. His monastic life seems more like an attempt to hide from the problems of the world than a desire to serve God, and he recognizes it. If you want to read the story of how a man could get from feeling as powerless and victimized as the rest of the world to finally seeing alight at the end of the tunel, this is your book. If you want to know what the light looks like for yourself: read Ishmael, The Story of B or My Ishmael.
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What are the forces that shaped and molded the man Daniel Quinn to write such works as Ishmael and other moving texts of how life is to be lived? Quinn partially addresses that question in this brief tome of reflection. Quinn takes us on a backward look at the man that he was and the man that he became through two major incidents of his life; a dream as a six year old and a flirtation with the monastic life in a Trappist monastery.

Providence is funny, conversational and holds nuggets of information about a life of low self-esteem, questions about one's sexuality,failed marriages and trying to achieve perfection. Daniel Quinn paints a picture of a young man struggling to accept himself for whom and what he is. If you are a fan of Quinn's previous works this book will further affirm your loyalty to his books.

If you have read Quinn, appreciated his works and were looking for more depth and insight about the author, Providence will be disappointing. His memoir doesn't deal with any significance about his life under alcoholic parents, a indifferent brother and his formation under Catholicism. You will spend much of the time reading about how Ishmael came into being and less time knowing how Quinn came into being. Is Providence a great spiritual memoir rivaling that of other spiritual questors? No. Quinn needs to provide more depth. It is a good read but don't look for anything profound.
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