Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton, 1915–68, American religious writer and poet, b. France. He grew up in France, England, and the United States and studied at Cambridge and at Columbia (B.A., 1938; M.A., 1939). Converted to the Roman Catholic Church during his college career, he became in 1941 a Trappist monk. He was later ordained a priest and is known in religion as Father M. Louis. Merton died as a result of an accident in Thailand while attending an ecumenical council of Catholic and Buddhist monks. Among his volumes of poems are Figures for an Apocalypse (1947), The Tears of the Blind Lions (1949), and The Strange Islands (1957). Best known of his books are his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain (1948, repr. 1970), two volumes on Trappist life, The Waters of Siloe (1949) and The Sign of Jonas (1953, repr. 1973), and Mystics and Zen Masters (1967). His Seeds of Contemplation (1949), The Silent Life (1957), and New Seeds of Contemplation (1962, rev. ed. 1972) are volumes of meditations. Also of interest are his Disputed Questions (1960), Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (1966), Faith and Violence (1968), Contemplation in a World of Action (1971), The Journals of Thomas Merton (Vol. I, 1995), and his Asian journal, ed. by Naomi Burton et al. (1973).

See A Thomas Merton Reader, ed. by T. P. McDonnell (1962); study by J. T. Baker (1971).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Literary Essays of Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton; Brother Patrick Hart.
New Directions, 1985
The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton.
New Directions, 1977
A Search for Wisdom and Spirit: Thomas Merton's Theology of the Self
Anne E. Carr.
Notre Dame University Press, 1989
The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton
Monica Weis.
University Press of Kentucky, 2011
William Harmless, S.J.
Oxford University Press, 2008
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Mystic as Fire Watcher: Thomas Merton"
Harder Than War: Catholic Peacemaking in Twentieth-Century America
Patricia McNeal.
Rutgers University Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Thomas Merton at the Crossroads of Peace"
The Conversion Experience in America: A Sourcebook on Religious Conversion Autobiography
James Craig Holte.
Greenwood Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 20 "Thomas Merton (1915-1968): The Seven Storey Mountain"
A Fire in the Bones: Reflections on African-American Religious History
Albert J. Raboteau.
Beacon Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Nine "A Hidden Wholeness: Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King, Jr."
Autobiographical Occasions and Original Acts: Versions of American Identity from Henry Adams to Nate Shaw
Albert E. Stone.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "The Soul and the Self: Black Elk and Thomas Merton"
The Catholic Counterculture in America, 1933-1962
James Terence Fisher.
University of North Carolina Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Jack Kerouac and Thomas Merton, the Last Catholic Romantics"
Monastic Liberation as Counter-Cultural Critique in the Life and Thought of Thomas Merton
Magid, Shaul.
Cross Currents, Vol. 49, No. 4, Winter 1999
Thomas Merton's Contemplative Struggle: Bridging the Abyss to Freedom
Kilcourse, George A., Jr.
Cross Currents, Vol. 49, No. 1, Spring 1999
Thomas Merton and the Inclusive Imagination
Ross Labrie.
University of Missouri Press, 2001
The Geography of Lograire
Thomas Merton.
New Directions, 1969
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