Thomas Merton Goes to Class: Pedagogy on the Borders of the Short Story

Michael J. Callaghan, C. M


Our thesis is more finely tuned to Thomas Merton (1915-68) the writer, more specifically, the poet/artist/writer and thinker. These are the components of the “Merton” voice. Merton senses the quality of innocence as the sine qua non of the poet or writer’s vocation: “His art depends on an ingrained innocence which he would lose in business, in politics, or in too organized a form of academic life” (Raids 156). Simply put: Merton would lose his voice in some work; he would find a way to use his prophetic voice in others. Clearly then, knowing well the ways of the world, its newness and its sins as they touched him personally, Merton claims the monastery as his megaphone, as providing and sustaining that innocence he so explicitly requires as necessary for clear thinking and good writing, clear communication. However, Conjectures marks a turn, a change in Merton’s voice in this neatly thought-through process.


literature; Thomas Merton; Ernest Hemingway; Shirley Jackson

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