Thomas Merton on Franz Kafka

Thomas Merton on Franz Kafka

Audio Sample:

What is the function of the contemplative in the modern world?

This question lies at the root of Thomas Merton’s extended contemplation of Franz Kafka’s dystopian novel, The Castle. A hugely influential writer from the 20th century, Kafka (1883–1924) was a German-speaking Jew born in Prague. His fiction—especially his 1915 novella The Metamorphosis, in which the protagonist finds himself transformed into an insect—is so well known for its absurd and existential themes that the style has

Audio Sample:

What is the function of the contemplative in the modern world?

This question lies at the root of Thomas Merton’s extended contemplation of Franz Kafka’s dystopian novel, The Castle. A hugely influential writer from the 20th century, Kafka (1883–1924) was a German-speaking Jew born in Prague. His fiction—especially his 1915 novella The Metamorphosis, in which the protagonist finds himself transformed into an insect—is so well known for its absurd and existential themes that the style has become synonymous with his name: Kafkaesque.

Now, you have the rare opportunity to hear Merton—the English professor-turned-monk and a literary genius in his own right—discuss The Castle as a metaphor for the monastic life. Originally recorded in 1967 and newly remastered to enhance your listening experience, this audio set collects four talks on Kafka that Merton delivered during the month of June.

Ranging from essayistic reflections on The Castle to more off-the-cuff discussions of Albert Camus’s The Plague, these archival recordings are a mixture of spoken journal entries and other trains of thought. Each talk invites you into Merton’s close confidence.

You will also hear Merton develop fascinating arguments around

  • Brian Wicker’s 1966 “Secular Christianity,”
  • Interreligious dialogue and monastic reform,
  • The idea of being “imprisoned,”
  • Virginity,
  • Existentialism with respect to faith, and
  • Kafka’s rejection of Jewish law.

Bookworms and fans of Merton alike will find that Merton can zap the stalest subjects into the most erudite discourses. Hear one great literary mind on another.

Learn about downloadable programs.

$89.95

  • In Dialogue with the Taizé Community: The Contemplative in the World (Mon 6/12/1967)
  • Ideas on Virginity: The Castle, Gregory of Nyssa, and Blaise Pascal (Thurs 6/15/1967)
  • Merton’s Audio Journals: The Plague by Camus, The Castle by Kafka, and the General Chapter (Sat 6/17/1967)
  • Final Thoughts on The Castle (Wed 6/21/1967)

Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk and bestselling author of such beloved works as The Seven Storey Mountain and New Seeds of Contemplation. One of the 20th century’s great mystics, Merton was also a masterful teacher who delivered powerful conferences to the novice monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani. In these conferences, Merton’s thinking moved from cloistered monastic life to issues of social justice and interreligious understanding. A spiritual sage and guide for countless men and women, Merton struggled with complex questions about God’s existence and the role of organized religion.

Those who knew him also experienced his gifts as a homilist and teacher. These special, remastered recordings are part of his spoken word legacy. They are actual recordings of Thomas Merton. By agreement with The Thomas Merton Legacy Trust, Now You Know Media has the sole right to record, master, re-master, duplicate, market, and disseminate copies of "The Merton Recordings," which are a selection of the archives housed in the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.

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