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For twenty-seven years, renowned and beloved monk Thomas Merton (1915-1968) belonged to Our Lady of Gethsemani, a Trappist monastery established in 1848 amid the hills and valleys near Bardstown, Kentucky. In Thomas Merton's Gethsemani, dramatic black-and-white photographs by Harry L. Hinkle and artful text by Merton scholar Monica Weis converge in a unique experience for lovers of Merton.
Hinkle was allowed unprecedented access to many areas inside the monastery and on its grounds that are generally restricted. His photographs invite the reader to experience the various knobs, lakes, woods, and hermitages Merton sought out for times of solitude and contemplation and for reading and writing. These unique images, each accompanied by a passage from Merton's writings, evoke personal reflection and a deeper understanding of how and why Merton came to recognize himself as a part of his Kentucky landscape.
Woven throughout the book, Weis's text explores Merton's fascination with nature not only at Gethsemani, but during his early childhood, throughout his spiritual conversion to Roman Catholicism, and while a member of the Trappist community. She examines how Merton's lifelong interaction with nature subtly revealed and informed his profound spiritual experiences and his writing about contemplation. Thomas Merton's Gethsemani replicates Merton's path on his solitary hikes in the woods and conveys the wonder of the landscapes that inspired him.
Harry L. Hinkle is a fine art photographer in Lexington, Kentucky.
Monica Weis, SSJ, a Sister of St. Joseph, is professor of English at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York.
"This handsome book combines words and photographs that every Merton admirer will appreciate. . . . Hinkle's roaming camera preserves the essence of Gethsemani"—Booklist
"Will live beyond books that have treated Mertons poetry, religious commentary and social criticism in a vacuum. It brings together in one volume the images that inspired the words and the words drawn from the images."—Bowling Green (KY) Daily News
"Both the casual visitor to Gethsemani and the Merton scholar will find this book a valuable addition to their library."—Catholic Telegraph
"Hinkle's sublime artwork is impressive and inspiring. . . . Weis has produced the text which artfully conveys how Merton's lifelong interaction with nature revealed and inspired his spiritual experiences, his contemplations, and writings."—Chevy Chaser/Southsider
"Combines some of Merton's photographs and writings with Hinkle's dramatic black and white photographs and the narrative of three gifted writers to convey the contemplative setting that was Merton's home for twenty-seven years."—Contemplation & Action
"This beautify volume documents Merton's environment, both monastic and natural. . . .Those interested in American nature writing, art photography, spirituality, and the influence of place upon personal development will welcome this beautifully produced, insightfully written, and contemplative volume."—ISLE
"Hinkle's stunning photographs, and the text which accompanies them, allow us to see Merton's monastic world with that fresh eye which Thomas Merton himself insisted was the gift of contemplation."—Lawrence S. Cunningham, University of Notre Dame
"In this life, on this earth, Gethsemani was Merton's paradise. Hinkle and Weis artfully show how Merton learned and grew spiritually in this paradise, and, by implication, how others might do so, too."—Lexington Herald-Leader
"Lovingly recreates the Trappist monastery where Merton lived for 27 years."—Louisville Courier-Journal
"An evocative book of photographs memorably wed with a remarkable essay."—Merton Seasonal
"Harry Hinkle's superb photographs do for 'Merton Country' what Herbert Gleason did many years ago for Thoreau-provide a vivid record of the landscapes and natural phenomena that inspired the author-and Monica Weis' lucid tracing of both the chronological breadth and spiritual depth of Merton's reflections on his environment reveal why and how the natural world served Merton as a revelation of the Creator."—Patrick F. O'Connell, coeditor of The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia
"An artful combination of lovely photographs by Harry L. Hinkle, illuminated by Merton's own words, and an insightful essay by Monica Weis help the reader experience Merton's spiritual interaction with his physical environment."—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
"A fine contribution not only to art photography, but to Merton scholarship and will be welcomed by those unlikely to visit Merton's Gethsemani and those who know it well."—Spirituality
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
Thomas Merton, Kentucky, Trappists, Gethsemani
History of Religion
Hinkle, Harry L. and Weis, Monica SSJ, "Thomas Merton's Gethsemani: Landscapes of Paradise" (2005). History of Religion. 6.