The Letters of Thomas Merton and Victor and Carolyn Hammer

The Letters of Thomas Merton and Victor and Carolyn Hammer: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

F. Douglas Scutchfield
Paul Evans Holbrook
With the editorial assistance of Leah Casanave
Foreword by Paul M. Pearson
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    The Letters of Thomas Merton and Victor and Carolyn Hammer
    Book Description:

    Poet, social justice advocate, and theologian Thomas Merton (1915--1968) is arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. In his short lifetime, he penned over seventy books and maintained a brisk correspondence with colleagues around the globe. However, many Merton scholars and fans remain unaware of the significant body of letters that were exchanged between the Trappist monk and Victor and Carolyn Hammer.

    Unable to leave his home at the Abbey of Gethsemani except on special occasions, Merton developed a unique friendship with this couple from nearby Lexington, Kentucky. Carolyn, who supplied Merton with many of the books he required for his writing and teaching, was a founder of the King Library Press at the University of Kentucky. Victor was an accomplished painter, sculptor, printer, and architect. The friendship and collaborations between Merton and the Hammers reveal their shared interest in the convergence of art, literature, and spirituality.

    In this volume, editors F. Douglas Scutchfield and Paul Evans Holbrook Jr. have collected the trio's complete correspondence for the first time. Their letters, arranged chronologically, vividly demonstrate a blossoming intellectual camaraderie and provide a unique opportunity to understand Merton's evolving philosophies. At times humorous, often profound, the letters in this volume shed light on a rare friendship and offer new insights into the creative intellect of Thomas Merton.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5565-4
    Subjects: Religion, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Paul M. Pearson

    Over the years, along with five volumes of Thomas Merton’s selected letters, a growing library has been published of Merton’s complete extant correspondence with a wide variety of friends and contacts—lifelong friends such as Robert Lax; publishing contacts such as James Laughlin and, soon, I hope, Robert Giroux and Naomi Burton Stone; literary correspondents such as Czeslaw Milosz; cultural ones such as Ad Reinhardt and Edward Deming Andrews; theological correspondents such as Jean Leclercq, D. T. Suzuki, and Rosemary Radford Reuther; and Kentucky friends such as Jonathan Greene and Ralph Eugene Meatyard.

    The volume of correspondence you are currently...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    When Thomas Merton entered the gates of the Abbey of Gethsemani in 1941 as a postulant to a monastic vocation, he did not abandon his earlier vocation as a writer. Indeed, each of these dual vocations enlarged and informed the other throughout his life. Thomas Merton became the monk, the hermit—and later the social critic and humanist he was—precisely because of this dual tension, creative within him. Merton was born with the instincts of a writer, and he nurtured his talent as a youth. He read widely and voraciously. His public school education in England and both his...

  6. The Letters
    (pp. 17-270)
  7. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  8. Afterword
    (pp. 271-294)

    The exchanges included in this collection of letters provide the reader with insights into the shared interests and concerns of very sophisticated and deeply spiritual individuals, offering a glimpse of their lives and times, ranging from mundane concerns—the coordination of timing for a visit, given the difference in time zones between Lexington and the Abbey of Gethsemani, for example—to sublime reflection and thoughtful attention to aesthetic and spiritual truths. Merton and the Hammers took great nourishment from their ongoing dialogue and evolving friendship. It is hoped that the readers of these letters will have been able to share...

  9. Appendix A Letters between Veronica (Moni) Hammer and Thomas Merton
    (pp. 295-298)
  10. Appendix B Foreword to the Hammer Exhibition Catalogue, North Carolina Museum of Art
    (pp. 299-302)
    Thomas Merton
  11. Appendix C Thomas Merton–Related Books Printed at the Stamperia del Santuccio, The Anvil Press, and the King Library Press, Lexington, Kentucky
    (pp. 303-306)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 307-328)
  13. Index
    (pp. 329-334)