London: Sheed and Ward, 1938. First British edition. Original green cloth (7 1/2 inches tall), original dust jacket. Early owner address label to blank flyleaf, mild toning to jacket spine of bright unclipped dust jacket. A nearly-fine copy. Item #1038
"THE CATHOLIC WORKER BELIEVES IN THE GENTLE PERSONALISM OF TRADITIONAL CATHOLICISM"
First British—and first hardcover—edition of Peter Maurin's Easy Essays, the first collected teachings of the "Peasant of the Pavement"—illustrated with "Designs by Adé de Béthune." Scarce.
Maurin's street-corner sayings quickly became the central animating philosophy of the fledgling Catholic Worker Movement. "Peter’s teaching was simple, so simple, as one can see from these phrased paragraphs, these Easy Essays, as we have come to call them, that many disregarded them. It was the sanctity of the man that made them dynamic. These essays were his only original writings, and even during his prime we used them in the paper just as he did in speaking, over and over again. He believed in repeating, in driving his point home by constant repetition, like the dropping of water on the stones which were our hearts" (Dorothy Day).
Easy Essays is comprised of 11 sections: I. Looking for Leadership, II. Historical Background, III. Legalized Usury, IV. Works of Mercy, V. Criticism and Marxism, VI. Communitarianism, VII. Farming Communes, IX. What They Say They Believe, X. Disarmament, XI. Books to Read. Ade Bethune accented Maurin's text with 12 superb woodcuts including images of Blessed Martin de Porres, St. Francis, St. Benedict, and St. John of God. A contemporary British review (reprinted on the back of Day's House of Hospitality): "Peter Maurin, Christian and Social Philosopher, has invented a new and very telling form of journalism. By it he is enabled to get over simple and primary truths, in the most simple language and without trappings of example, and yet in such a form that they cling to the mind. This he achieves by having only one idea to each line in his printing—so that you get the full weight before you go on—and by giving his prose a rhythm which makes it attractive. Ade de Bethune's forceful woodcuts of Christ the Worker, the black blessed Martin de Porres, etc., help too." (Blackfriars). First published in New York (also by Sheed and Wardi) in 1936. With a final leaf: "Books to Read," an abbreviated list of Maurin's recommended books on Catholic Social Teaching, echoed on the back of the scarce dust jacket with advertisements for Dawson's Religion and the Modern State and Gurian's The Future of Bolshevism.