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New York Times best-selling author and monk, Thomas Merton, exploring the literature and spirituality of 20th century’s greatest novelist: James Joyce.
Born in 1882 to a Catholic family in Dublin, James Joyce wrote some of the most acclaimed masterpieces of modern literature: Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Dubliners, and Finnegans Wake. Educated by Jesuits and deeply influenced by Thomas Aquinas, Joyce wove Catholicism into his works.
Delivered in 1968, these four lectures on Joyce’s writing are now available to the public for the first time ever. This one-of-a-kind set includes an introduction by Dr. Michael Higgins, a renowned Merton biographer and scholar of literature and religion.
Before becoming a Trappist monk, Thomas Merton studied English at Columbia and taught literature at St. Bonaventure University. Merton understood the essential relationship between literature and theology; indeed, God has chosen to reveal himself to us through literature.
In these lectures, Merton focuses on Joyce's short story collection Dubliners. You will look at the timeless story "The Dead" and how it embodies Joyce's concept of aesthetics and the epiphany. Then, as you listen to Merton read the classic "Araby," Joyce’s voice will truly come alive.
This course is ideal both as an introduction to Joyce and as an exciting work of scholarship by one great author on another.
(Photograph of Thomas Merton by Sibylle Akers. Used with permission of the Merton Legacy Trust and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University.)
This course is part of the Learn25 collection.
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Joyful Joycean criticism
I have found Thomas Merton later in my life, and I am so glad I did. Poet, sage, literary critic, writer, Trappist Monk. His thinking is transcendent. Here is a small example, some lectures on James Joyce, mainly on 'Dubliners' but 'Ulysses' is also referenced. They are recorded live in 1968 and it is wonderful to hear the birdsong, ticking clock, coughing and shuffling and classroom bell and other background noises as a kind of ambient background. Given that this is such an old tape recording the clarity is astonishing.
Anyway Merton here focusses chiefly on the stories from Dubliners, "The Dead" and "Araby." He focuses on Joyce's notion of the Epiphany, seeing the transcendent in the everyday. By that I mean, seeing past all the dead conventions of a decaying social order that impose a living death, and embracing instead the real beating heart of life, be it sacrificing everything for love, breaking free from institutions etc. Dubliners can be described as a catalogue of failed attempts of its protagonists to do just that. Joyce sought to shake his readers out of their complacency with tactics such as shock and comedy, or just showing us a slice of life and letting us draw our own conclusions.
Merton the man, his authority, humility and humanity shine through these recordings. A wonderful find.
- Amazon Customer
good, only Merton seems pleased with his clevernes
very good and easy to hear (not all Merton conferences are). he is a bit sarcastic in his critique of a book on Joyce and shares a bit in Joyce's rather showing off tendency, cleverer than thou. still, its good. well worth the listen