Merton and Waugh: A Monk, A Crusty Old Man, and The Seven Storey Mountain
Author: Mary Frances Coady
From 1948 to 1952 the lives of Trappist monk Thomas Merton and British novelist Evelyn Waugh were closely intertwined. During these years, Waugh became enthusiastic about American Catholicism, and in particular, monasticism as seen through the eyes of the author of The Seven Storey Mountain. He agreed to edit Merton’s autobiography and the subsequent Waters of Siloe for publication in Britain. In this close examination of their friendship, through their correspondence, we see Waugh’s coaching of a younger writer and Waugh’s brief infatuation with America. Most of all, we witness Merton the writing student and spiritual master and Waugh the master of prose and conflicted penitent. And we see how the two men diverge as the Second Vatican Council takes hold in Catholicism and the church experiences profound change.