The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage

The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage

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The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage by Paul Elie, Lloyd James, Lloyd James

The story of four modern American Catholics who made literature out of their search for God

In the mid–twentieth century four American Catholics came to believe that the best way to explore the questions of religious faith was to write about them—in works that readers of all kinds could admire. The Life You Save May Be Your Own is their story—a vivid and enthralling account of great writers and their power over us.

Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk in Kentucky; Dorothy Day the founder of the Catholic Worker in New York; Flannery O’Connor a “Christ-haunted” literary prodigy in Georgia; Walker Percy a doctor in New Orleans who quit medicine to write fiction and philosophy. A friend came up with a name for them—the School of the Holy Ghost—and for three decades they exchanged letters, ardently read one another’s books, and grappled with what one of them called a “predicament shared in common.”

A pilgrimage is a journey taken in light of a story; and in The Life You Save May Be Your Own Paul Elie tells these writers’ story as a pilgrimage from the God-obsessed literary past of Dante and Dostoevsky out into the thrilling chaos of postwar American life. It is a story of how the Catholic faith, in their vision of things, took on forms the faithful could not have anticipated. And it is a story about the ways we look to great books and writers to help us make sense of our experience, about the power of literature to change—to save—our lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786184194
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date: 08/28/2004
Edition description: Unabridged, 2 MP3-CDs, 22 hrs. 30 min.
Product dimensions: 5.28(w) x 7.46(h) x 0.57(d)

About the Author

Paul Elie, an editor at FSG, has written for The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Commonweal. He lives in Manhattan.

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The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books that you want to read again. Paul Elie brings these four writers-- Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton -- to life as he recounts their personal, spiritual, and literary journeys. And the writing is exquisite.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an incredible book. Elie's review of these writers, their lives and stories, and how their experience of modern life interacted with their faith and their art was thorough and challenging. It make me think and pray about my own life and story and how I interact with my times. Any book that helps me do that is a gift indeed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an incredibly interesting account and weaving together of the lives of some of America's most gifted Catholic writers. Completely worth the effort.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Well written, engaging, important. The pilgrims may not be perfect but their progess (and convergences) are fascinating.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I honestly thought that I would not be able to finish the book even as I purchased it but gave it a try anyway. Much to my suprise, after having decided I absolutely did not like two of the authors at all within the first third of the book, Elie still pulled me forward to read more about them. I am left wanting to know more about Walker Percy and Flannery O'Conner, whom Elie spends the least amount of time on. For both Merton and Day, I find them to be pitiful and misguided. Their christianity is not my christianity. Their anarchist and pacifist views do not represent my interpretation of the meaning of Christ and are not a role model for a christian life. As far as I am concerned Thomas Merton never found what he was looking for, he only went from one self delusion to another throughout his life. I am stunned that Dorothy Day is being considered for canonization! I am not a catholic but if I were, her canonization would prompt me to leave the church. However, even though two out of the four authors are not enviable, I find Elie's commentary to be well considered and well written. I would certainly read any future text he puts forth.