Friday, April 08, 2016

Hmm …

 Maverick Philosopher: Why Evelyn Waugh Wanted Thomas Merton to Shut Up.
I liked The Seven Storey Mountain when I read it in college, but later came to see Merton as sucking up to fashion. Bede Griffiths's The Golden String is much better than The Seven Storey Mountain, but Griffiths also grew strange.


  1. Was Merton "sucking up" to fashion of culture or the Church; I had assumed his writing as a monk (is that the correct term?) was focused almost exclusively on spiritual and Church matters, so I am confused about your critique.

    1. Merton, BTW, and Flannery O'Connor seemed to have been mutual admirers and kindred spirits, for whatever that might be worth.

  2. In a letter of 13 September 1949, Waugh wrote to Katharine Asquith, "... when the other monks go out to the fields Merton is set down at a typewriter & told to produce books. If that continues he will write two or three a year for the rest of his life. It is for his directors & superiors to decide if that is good for his soul. From a literary point of view the prospect seems depressing."

    I haven't read Merton in forty or more years. Guy Davenport had an interesting essay on him, but apparently not interesting enough to make me go back and reread him.

  3. Well, she died in 1964, the year I finished college. So he was still the person one met in The Seven Storey Mountain. But later on he seemed to drift toward an outlook than was less religious than politically fashionable. Or so it seemed to me.