By Patrick Leigh Fermor
Whereas nonetheless undefined, Patrick Leigh Fermor made his manner throughout Europe, as mentioned in his vintage memoirs, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. in the course of global battle II, he fought with neighborhood partisans opposed to the Nazi occupiers of Crete. yet in A Time to maintain Silence, Leigh Fermor writes a couple of extra inward trip, describing his numerous sojourns in a few of Europe’s oldest and such a lot venerable monasteries. He remains on the Abbey of St. Wandrille, an excellent repository of artwork and studying; at Solesmes, recognized for its revival of Gregorian chant; and at the deeply ascetic Trappist monastery of l. a. Grande Trappe, the place clergymen take a vow of silence. eventually, he visits the rock monasteries of Cappadocia, hewn from the stony spires of a moonlike panorama, the place he seeks a few hint of the lifetime of the earliest Christian anchorites.
More than a historical past or go back and forth magazine, even if, this pretty brief publication is a meditation at the which means of silence and solitude for contemporary existence. Leigh Fermor writes, “In the seclusion of a cell—an life whose quietness is simply diversified by means of the silent nutrition, the solemnity of formality, and lengthy solitary walks within the woods—the stricken waters of the brain develop nonetheless and transparent, and lots more and plenty that's hidden away and all that clouds it floats to the skin and will be skimmed away; and after a time one reaches a kingdom of peace that's unthought of within the traditional world.”
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Luncheon at 1. m. Supper at 7:30, then, at 8:30, Compline and to bed in silence at 9. All meals, the rules pointed out, were eaten in silence: one was enjoined to take one’s “recreation” apart, and only to speak to the monks with the Abbot’s permission; not to make a noise walking about the Abbey; not to smoke in the cloisters; to talk in a low voice, and rigorously to observe the periods of silence. They struck me as impossibly forbidding. So much silence and sobriety! The place assumed the character of an enormous tomb, a necropolis of which I was the only living inhabitant.
The thoughts, ambitions, sounds, light, time and mood that surround the inhabitants of a cloister are not only unlike anything to which one is accustomed, but in some curious way, seem its exact reverse. ” But after a while, when he had become accustomed to the monastic norms, Leigh Fermor found that he began to feel an unfamiliar lightness and liberty. As he watched the monks going about their daily lives, Leigh Fermor assumed that “the dominating factor of monastic existence is a belief in the necessity and efficacy of prayer” and concluded that without “this first postulate of belief” monastic life would be farcical and intolerable.
KAREN ARMSTRONG, a historian of religion, spent seven years in a Roman Catholic religious order; she has written about this experience in Through the Narrow Gate and The Spiral Staircase. She is also the author of many books, including A History of God, The Great Transformation, and, most recently, The Bible: A Biography. A TIME TO KEEP SILENCE PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR Introduction by KAREN ARMSTRONG Drawings by JOHN CRAXTON NEW YORK REVIEW BOOKS New York CONTENTS Cover Biographical Notes Title Page Introduction A TIME TO KEEP SILENCE Epigraph Dedication Author’s Introduction The Abbey of St.