Books: Silent Prophet

MERTON: A BIOGRAPHY by Monica Furlong

Harper & Row; 342 pages; $12.95

Just 32 years ago, The Seven Storey Mountain appeared in American bookshops. Within weeks the autobiography became the most unlikely bestseller in American history—600,000 copies in the original clothbound edition. The author, Thomas Merton, was a young Roman Catholic convert who had scuttled a promising literary career to seek the austere and silent cloister of a Trappist monastery. But the career pursued him. At the time of his death in 1968 at the age of 53, the monk who dwelt in a...

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