A Time to Keep Silence

FERMOR, Sir Patrick Leigh. A Time to Keep Silence.

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FERMOR, Sir Patrick Leigh. A Time to Keep Silence. London, John Murray, [1989].

8vo. Original boards with dust-wrapper; pp. 95, 4 half-tone plates with photographic illustrations recto-and-verso after M. le Curé Bretocq and Joan Eyres Monsell, and 3 section-title vignettes after John Craxton; fine.
Signed by the author on title-page. Second reprint of the 1982 new edition which had been enlarged by a new introduction. A collection of three pieces on monasteries and monasticism: 'The Abbey of St Wandrille de Fontanelle', 'From Solesmes to La Grande Trappe', 'The Rock Monasteries of Cappadocia', followed by a 'Postscript' which considers the history of the English Benedictine Congregation and its peregrinations through Europe, and Byzantine monasticism. First published in The Cornhill in 1949 under the title 'A Monastery', the first and longest piece collected here is Patrick Leigh Fermor's account of his residence at l'Abbaye de St Wandrille de Fontanelle in north-west France, which recounts the history of the Benedictine abbey founded in 649 by St Wandrille and provides a typically erudite assessment of the role of monasticism in European intellectual life, together with his own personal reaction to the spiritual discipline and structure of monastic life under the Rule of St Benedict. As Artemis Cooper comments in Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure, 'Almost none of his subsequent writings show anything like the same level of introspection, and certain passages seem to yearn for a deeper spiritual experience, like a thirsty man in the desert gazing at at what might be an oasis or a mirage. For the monks the oasis was very real but for Paddy, in spite of his yearnings, it remained a mirage. Yet the weeks he spent in these French monasteries had made a profound impression' (p. 235).