The Seven Storey Mountain Author:Thomas Merton Seven Storey Mountain is said to have struck a nerve amidst a society longing for renewed personal meaning and direction in the aftermath of a long, bloody war (World War II), and at a time when global annihilation was increasingly imaginable due to the development of atomic bombs and even more powerful thermonuclear weapons. The book has served... more » as a powerful recruitment tool for the priestly life in general, and for the monastic orders specifically. In the 1950s, Gethsemani Abbey and the other Trappist monasteries experienced a surge in young men presenting themselves for the cenobitic life. It is a well-known bit of Catholic lore that many priests after the book's publication entered monasteries or seminaries with a copy in their suitcase.
Many readers were surprised to read that a young man with such a promising future of secular success would choose a solitary life. However, Merton put his undeniably brilliant mind to good use, becoming one of the most famous and revered spiritual authors in the world. One printing bears this accolade on the cover, from Graham Greene: "It is a rare pleasure to read an autobiography with a pattern and meaning valid for us all. The Seven Storey Mountain is a book one reads with a pencil so as to make it one's own." Evelyn Waugh also greatly (although not uncritically) admired the book and its author.« less