New York: Image Books, 1959. First edition thus. Original color wrappers (7 1/8 inches tall). Spine uncreased, corners sharp, color wrappers bright, very slight edge-wear, else Fine. Item #1514
"I DID NOT KNOW IN WHAT I BELIEVED, THOUGH I TRIED TO SERVE A CAUSE"
First Image Books edition of The Long Loneliness—the autobiography of the most notable American lay Catholic of the twentieth century. A bright, fresh copy of a landmark of American Catholicism with the distinctive Orb-and-Cross of Image Books.
The opening passage in "Confession" immerses the reader in a very specific time and place (a Catholic Church in a mid-century New York City summer): "When you go to confession on a Saturday night, you go into a warm, dimly lit vastness, with the smell of wax and incense in the air, the smell of burning candles, and if it is a hot summer night there is the sound of a great electric fan, and the noise of the streets coming in to emphasize the stillness. There is another sound too, besides that of the quiet movements of the people from pew to confession to altar-rail; there is the sliding of the shutters of the little window between you and the priest in his 'box.'" Day divides her life into two parts. Her first twenty-five years were times of great insecurity and turbulence, and it seems that the birth (and baptism) of her daughter Tamar Teresa in 1926—and her own conversion to Catholicism in 1927—did little to affect this struggle. Dorothy "suffered from the sense that her conversion represented a betrayal of the cause of the poor. The church, though in many ways the home of the poor, seemed otherwise to identify with the status quo. So she spent some lonely years in the wilderness, raising her child alone, while praying for some way of reconciling her faith and her commitment to social justice." (Robert Ellsberg).
It was Dorothy's pivotal meeting with Peter Maurin, and their founding of The Catholic Worker, in 1933 that finally alleviated her craving for a sense of purpose and community to accompany her faith. "The community to which she now belonged was united in work, in poverty, in resistance to what they called Holy Mother the State. They were united, too, she was confident, by religious faith, which joined friends and strangers, neighbors and distant correspondents, the living and the dead, and bound them all together" (Paul Elie).
The Long Loneliness was first published in 1952; this Image Books edition (D89) was published in September 1959 with cover design by Charles Gottlieb and typography by Joseph P. Ascherl. The title is derived from a passage by the (now Venerable) English nun, Mary Ward, reprinted after the Table of Contents. The book is composed of five sections: Confession, Part One. Searching, Part Two. Natural Happiness, Part Three. Love is the Measure, Postscript. Menendez, The Road to Rome, 492. Ellsberg, All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time. Elie, The Life You Save May by Your Own: An American Pilgrimage.