The Courage for Truth: Letters to Writers

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9780156000048: The Courage for Truth: Letters to Writers

In this fourth volume of correspondence, readers discover "the literary Merton," who had a passion for writing, as well as "the whole Merton"-monk, social critic, friend. Selected, edited, and with an Introduction by Christine M. Bochen; Preface by William H. Shannon; Index.

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Review:

Though he lived in an enclosed order, Thomas Merton was the most sociable of monks by mail. His first letter in this ever-surprising volume is to Evelyn Waugh, who in 1948 was editing The Seven Storey Mountain for English publication. Recounting how his work runs a gantlet of religious censors before being further altered by his publishers, Merton adds, "And after about four years a book appears in print." Hence, he pleads, "I need criticism the way a man dying of thirst needs water." The paradoxes of his life are all here: his great faith, his frustration with earthly authority, his obligation to honesty, and his essential sophistication. This is the man who "read Decline and Fall and Vile Bodies over more than any other book except for Ulysses: I mean before coming here."

The Courage for Truth includes 20 years of Merton's correspondence with fellow writers, among them Czeslaw Milosz, Boris Pasternak, James Baldwin, and even Henry Miller. Over time Merton's order gave him increasing intellectual and political leeway--though never quite enough. In one letter, he assures Milosz: "You can say nothing about the Church that can shock me. If I stay with the Church it is out of a disillusioned love, and with a realization that I myself could not be happy outside, though I have no guarantee of being happy inside either. In effect, my 'happiness' does not depend on any institution or establishment. As for you, you are part of my 'Church' of friends who are in many ways more important to me than the institution."

About the Author:

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was born in France and came to live in the United States at the age of 24. He received several awards recognizing his contribution to religious study and contemplation, including the Pax Medal in 1963, and remained a devoted spiritualist and a tireless advocate for social justice until his death in 1968. The Sign of Jonas was originally published in 1953.

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Merton, Thomas
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ISBN 10: 0156000040 ISBN 13: 9780156000048
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Merton, Thomas
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Thomas Merton
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Thomas Merton
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