Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax

Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax

by Michael N. McGregor


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Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax by Michael N. McGregor

Excellence in Publishing Award, Association of Catholic Publishers
Honorable Mention, Catholic Press Association Book Award
Finalist, Washington State Book Award

Pure Act tells the story of poet Robert Lax, whose quest to live a true life as both an artist and a spiritual seeker inspired Thomas Merton, Jack Kerouac, William Maxwell and a host of other writers, artists and ordinary people. Known in the U.S. primarily as Merton’s best friend and in Europe as a daringly original avant-garde poet, Lax left behind a promising New York writing career to travel with a circus, live among immigrants in post-war Marseilles and settle on a series of remote Greek islands where he learned and recorded the simple wisdom of the local people. Born a Jew, he became a Catholic and found the authentic community he sought in Greek Orthodox fishermen and sponge divers.

In his early life, as he alternated working at The New Yorker , writing screenplays in Hollywood and editing a Paris literary journal with studying philosophy, serving the poor in Harlem and living in a sanctuary high in the French Alps, Lax pursued an approach to life he called pure act―a way of living in the moment that was both spontaneous and practiced, God-inspired and self-chosen. By devoting himself to simplicity, poverty and prayer, he expanded his capacity for peace, joy and love while producing distinctive poetry of such stark beauty critics called him “one of America’s greatest experimental poets” and “one of the new ‘saints’ of the avant-garde.”

Written by a writer who met Lax in Greece when he was a young seeker himself and visited him regularly over fifteen years, Pure Act is an intimate look at an extraordinary but little-known life. Much more than just a biography, it’s a tale of adventure, an exploration of friendship, an anthology of wisdom, and a testament to the liberating power of living an uncommon life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780823276820
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Publication date: 04/03/2017
Series: Catholic Practice in North America (FUP) Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 472
Sales rank: 376,623
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Michael N. McGregor is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Portland State University. He has lectured at universities, conferences, and community events on both Robert Lax and Thomas Merton and is a member of Biographers International Organization and the International Thomas Merton Society.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Going Back 1
1. A Mutual Wonder-field
2. Ends and Means
3. Portals to a Land of Dusk
4. The Cottage
5. Lo, the sun walks forth!
6. Suicide Notes
7. The Scream
8. Aquinas and the Circus Beckon
9. The Siren Call of Hollywood
10. On the Road with the Cristianis
11. Being a Presence in Post-War Marseilles
12. Entering the Mouth of the Lion
13. Paris, Pax and Kerouac
14. Inspiration in a Greek Diner
15. A New Poetics
16. Original Child Bomb and an Island Home
17. The Sorrow of the Sponge Diver
18. A Saint of the Avant-Garde
19. Alone in the World
20. A Galapagos of the Spirit
21. All Thoughts as They Come
22. The Flaw in the Ideal
23. Hell Hath No Fury
24. Finding a Common Language
25. Pure Act Becomes Pure Love
26. The Peacemaker's Handbook
Epilogue: The Singer and the Song
Source Notes

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