"A useful compendium for those already familiar with the breadth and depth of Merton’s vision, and a splendid introduction for those encountering Thomas Merton for the first time."—Brother Patrick Hart
Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk who died in 1968, was one of the great spiritual writers of the twentieth century. His published works include a hundred volumes in many genres. But it was perhaps in the essay that he found his natural element. Especially in the last decade of his life, Merton showed in his essays an increasing willingness to dispense with pre-fabricated conclusions, bringing his deeply spiritual, profoundly Catholic sensibility to bear on matters beyond the usual religious and monastic milieu.
This volume is the first to provide a broad cross-section of Merton's work as an essayist, collecting pieces that reflect characteristic examples of his astonishing output and the fantastic breadth of his interests. The 33 essays collected here range from interreligious dialogue to racial justice, from the wisdom of the desert fathers to the novels of Faulkner and Camus, from the nuclear threat to the philosophy of solitude, and throughout, the centrality of the Christian mystery to authentic human identity.
Patrick F. O'Connell is professor in the departments of English and theology at Gannon University, Erie, Pennsylvania. A founding member and former president of the International Thomas Merton Society, he edits The Merton Seasonal and is co-author of The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia (Orbis, 2006).