Thirty years after his death, we are finally catching up to Thomas Merton as one of the greatest spiritual figures of the twentieth century. The genius and spirituality of this unusual man could not be contained in his life as a monk but spilled over richly into his life and work as a poet, critic, rebel, sage, and even artist and photographer.
Merton was aware that he had heretic blood within him, and it soon became apparent to the world. The balding French-English intellectual living as a Trappist monk at Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky took a vow of silence, yet corresponded with and befriended such luminaries as Joan Baez, Jacques Maritain, John Howard Griffin, Martin Luther King Jr., Erich Fromm, and Boris Pasternak. His famous autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, captured the imagination of a generation, selling more than six hundred thousand copies in its first year. Merton also took a vow of obedience, yet feuded constantly with his second abbot. As a monk he promised to remain celibate, yet he found himself passionately in love with a nurse he met while in hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.
And at the end of his life, Merton, a monk within the western Roman Catholic tradition, was moving closer and closer to Eastern spirituality.
This brilliant new book is the first to use recently released diary entries and correspondence by Merton and includes new insights about the recently published diary of his episode of the heart. Higgins compares Merton with William Blake, the monk's intellectual and spiritual hero, and comes to startling conclusions about the emotional and intellectual passions that drove Thomas Merton, a man and thinker for all seasons.