"If Thomas Merton had been a writer and not a monk, we would never have heard of him. If Thomas Merton had been a monk and not a writer, we would never have heard of him."
So begins acclaimed author Mary Gordon in this probing, candid exploration of the man who became the face and voice of mid-twentieth-century American Catholicism. Approaching Merton "writer to writer," Gordon illuminates his life and work through his letters, journals, autobiography, and fiction. Pope Francis has celebrated Merton as "a man of dialogue," and here Gordon shows that the dialogue was as much internal as external--an unending conversation, and at times a heated conflict, between Merton the monk and Merton the writer.
Rich with excerpts from Merton's own writing, On Thomas Merton produces an intimate portrait of a man who "lived life in all its imperfectability, reaching toward it in exaltation, pulling back in anguish, but insisting on the primacy of his praise as a man of God."