THE WATERS OF SILOE by Thomas Merton


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That the Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton should have become a best seller and remained high up on the list for many months has given rise to much surprised comment. Some attribute the success of the book to the author's arresting, facile style; others, to the fascination of the highly personalized story of one man's spiritual pilgrimage. Merton himself would give another reason: the dissatisfaction of so many people with the ruthless search for material success and their longing for an inner peace which, he believes, can only come from a complete renunciation of the world. The present book is an attempt to explain the lure of the Trappist monastery and the severest of monastic orders for a completely modern man such as Thomas Merton. This is done by means of an historical account of the development of ""The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance"", familiarly known as Trappists from the place of its origin, La Trappe, France. Much attention is given to the early days of the order and the influence of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and to the vicissitudes undergone through the centuries. The French Revolution gave the first impulse to the establishment of the order in America. But while some interesting experiments were conducted earlier, it has only been in the last fifty years that the order has expanded significantly in this country. Now it has many centers in America and in the mission fields, and the author claims that the number of applicants for admission has increased phenomenally. Merton shows the same facility of style in this new book, and there is no doubt that it will appeal to many of the reading public, Protestant as well as Catholic, who would like to understand why such a gifted young man should find this particular answer to the riddle of life. However, were it not for the earlier volume, one would say that this is a book which would appeal largely to those interested in church history or in the philosophy of monasticism.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1949
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace