Evelyn Underhill's classic book on mysticism shows not only the historic development of Christian mysticism and its influence on the Church, but gives a deep insight into the spiritual growth of the individual mystics, their struggles, achievements and influence.
Covering the whole development of the Christian Church from St. Paul to the present century, the author illustrates the differing backgrounds and approach of many of the great mystics such as St. Augustine of Hippo, whose writings helped to create the Church's understanding of its mystical character; and St. Francis of Assisi, whose example proved an inspiration to many. The book gives much more than an opportunity to "meet" the great mystics: it also provides a framework for the analysis of true mysticism and false, contrasting Catherine of Sienna, a girl of the people whose transcendental mysticism benefited many in an age of ecclesiastical degradation, with the well-born and beautiful Madame Guyon, whose excesses brought mysticism into disrepute. Evelyn Underhill illuminates the whole of her subject by drawing attention to the differences of approach that can bring mortals along the road to the divine, from the zealous militancy of a Loyola to the passivity of the Quietists.
This absorbing study by one of the great writers on mysticism covers every aspect of the subject and gives a clear understanding of the mystics' world in writing that is both informative and stimulating.
A poet, novelist, and well known writer on mysticism, Evelyn Underhill was born in 1875. She was educated privately and at King's College for Women, London, of which she later became first an Honorary Fellow and then a Fellow. She was also an Honorary Doctor of Divinity of the University of Aberdeen. In 1921 she was Upton Lecturer on the Philosophy of Religion at Manchester College, Oxford. Among Miss Underhill's most notable books are 'The Spiritual Life', 'Practical Mysticism', 'The Mystic Way', and 'Meditations Based on Our Lord's Prayer'.