Thursday, June 05, 2003


I'm reading a "new" Thomas Merton book that is very good. I'm not sure if it has been released yet since I think I'm reading a review copy. The book was one that he worked on in 1959 but sat unfinished until in 1968 he finally got around to making a few corrections.

Trouble is that he had specified in a trust in 1967 that if he died this manuscript (at that time unfinished) should never be published. He left the corrected and finished copy with a priest friend and asked him to have some cloistered Carmelites read it for their review. They loved it, but in the meantime Merton never returned to pick up the manuscript, his body came back in body bag from the Orient.

The priest friend in his grief rather forgot about it too, until in the 1970's when he discovered the manuscript that the Carmelites had returned and their glowing recomendation of it. He wrote the Abott of Merton's Monastery and informed it that the book should be published as Merton had conveyed this wish to him before leaving on the trip that took his life.

Trouble is that oral testimony does not override a written will for obvious reasons ("well Daddy told me just before he died that he wanted me to inherit the farm not junior"). So the manuscript went unpublished until now. The change has come about because Cisterician Studies has published bits and pieces of it over the years and it is felt that to do the text justice the final edited version should be released.

I've read a few chapters so far and it is very good!

The name of the book is The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation