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allegorical in Coetzee’s work. The widespread discomfort among Coetzee’s critics with his allegorical, and suggestively spiritual, style signals for Pecora their embrace of the position of the bourgeois individual. In light of this, Pecora argues for the surprising political ability of allegory to enact a ‘‘conflict of authorities ’’ and produce a ‘‘defamiliarization of everyday life.’’ In this way, the novel’s position—with one foot in religion and one in the secular—preserves the possibility of levelling a powerful critique of the worst aspects of the secular modern state. But the novel also bears unique potential to guide faith away from errant, accomodationist versions of itself. In other words, the perverse resistance toward redemption is necessary in an age in which ‘‘belief has become nothing less than the ‘hardened certainty’ that destroys belief most certainly.’’ Wilson Brissett United States Air Force Academy Mary Frances Coady, Merton and Waugh: A Monk, a Crusty Old Man and The Seven Storey Mountain. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2015. ISBN 978-1-61261-628-5. Pp. 155. $22.00 (hbk). For close to four years at the midpoint of the 20th century, the lives of two of the most significant English-speaking Roman Catholic converts and literary figures of that century converged through letters, editorial labors, and a brief personal meeting . In Merton and Waugh: A Monk, a Crusty Old Man and The Seven Storey Mountain, Mary Frances Coady provides an engaging account, incorporating the 20 pieces of extant correspondence, of the friendship between the Cistercian monk (1915–1968) whose 1948 autobiography, with a crucial assist from Waugh, became an unexpected best seller, and the British novelist (1903–1966), at the height of his own fame after publishing his postwar best seller Brideshead Revisited three years earlier. The relationship is set in the context of Waugh’s ambivalent attitude, at once fascinated and appalled, toward America, sparked by an initial visit to the USA in early 1947 to negotiate a movie deal for Brideshead, the only result of which was a mordant article on American funeral practices for Life magazine that would subsequently metamorphose into the short satirical novel The Loved One (1948). But when he received a manuscript in mid-1948 from editor Robert Giroux of the autobiography of a young cosmopolitan whose religious conversion led him into a Trappist monastery, he not only provided an enthusiastic endorsement that was printed on the front cover of the book’s dust jacket but also was prompted to propose to Life’s editor Henry Luce an article on American Catholicism that brought him back to America for a ‘‘research’’ trip in late 1948. This tour of Catholic sites included a visit to Merton’s Kentucky monastery for a brief meeting that remained vividly memorable to Merton two decades later, after Waugh’s death 486 Christianity & Literature 64(4) in April 1966 and shortly before his own unexpected death in Thailand in December 1968. In her seven chapters Coady details the successive phases of the relationship between the two men, interspersing at the appropriate points in the chronological narrative the surviving correspondence, 13 letters from Merton and (in somewhat abridged form) seven from Waugh, comprising about a third of the total text. Thus the book takes its place both with the growing number of volumes providing both sides of correspondence between Merton and a variety of religious and literary figures (Edward Deming Andrews, Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Jonathan Greene, Victor and Carolyn Hammer, James Laughlin, Robert Lax, Jean Leclercq, Czeslaw Milosz, Boris Pasternak, Rosemary Radford Ruether, D. T. Suzuki), and with a narrative like the late Robert Nugent’s Thomas Merton and Thérèse Lentfoehr: The Story of a Friendship (2012), another account of a primarily epistolary relationship that began around the same time as Merton’s initial contact with Waugh but lasted much longer, until Merton’s death. Lentfoehr, a nun and poet who became Merton’s unofficial secretary and archivist, also met Waugh, on his third American journey in 1949, and is credited by Coady with preserving Waugh’s letters to Merton (9)—though in fact it appears that Merton only gave them to her in 1966 for an...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 486-491
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-04
Open Access
No
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