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By David J. Leigh

Circuitous trips: glossy religious Autobiography presents a detailed interpreting and research of ten significant existence tales by means of twentieth-century leaders and thinkers from various non secular and cultural traditions: Mohandas Gandhi, Black Elk, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, C. S. Lewis, Malcolm X, Paul Cowan, Rigoberta Menchu, Dan Wakefield, and Nelson Mandela. The publication makes use of techniques from literary feedback, developmental psychology (influenced by means of Erik Erikson, James Fowler, and Carol Gilligan), and spirituality (influenced by way of John S. Donne, Emile Griffin, Walter Conn, and Bernard Lonergan). every one textual content is learn within the gentle of the autobiographical culture all started via St. Augustine's Confessions, yet with a spotlight on distinctively glossy and post-modern ameliorations of the self-writing style. The twentieth-century context of spiritual alienation, social autonomy, identification crises and politics, and the quest for social justice is tested in each one textual content.

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Sample text

But we still have much to learn from the structures and patterns of the autobiography itself. THOMAS MERTON 33 twenties. Yet he chose as a title a circular journey form-the spiral seven-storey mountain of the Piivgatorio, which describes the middle portion of Dante’s journey. Ironically, or perhaps prophetically, Merton’s age of twenty-nine when he begins his story in 1944 turns out to be just past the midpoint of his life (1915-68). The twenty-seven years of his pre-monastic life narrated in Tlze Seven Storey Mountain make up the first half of his life story.

Eventheepiloguerenewsthe water imagery by describing Merton’s other self-the writer-as “the old man of the sea” (411). In effect, the directional image of the “captive traveler” expands through its contradictory associations with both cleansing water and the original abyss to include the conflicts of an upward circular movement in his life story. As sailor and hero, he desires both travel and home, seeks cleansing and experiences the abyss in thesameobjects, reaches land whichoftenturns out to be an island, and concludes with these contradictory hungers only THOMAS MERTON 37 tentativelyresolved.

Thus, even though Daytells us she is not going “to leave out all the sins” as shedid in her earlier version of her autobiography, she fails in The L m g Lortelitzess to mention some liaisons, and even an abortion, which her biographer uncovers(Miller ch. 5). Similarly, Merton idealizes his father’s life as a painterand his influence on Merton, a move that leads to a variety of new interpretations of his life (see Mott, Cooper). Ideological influences can lead to rnisreadings of stages of one’s life story, as Malcolm X admits to Haley whilerecounting his Black Muslim period from his later perspective as an orthodox Muslim.

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