New York: Harper and Brothers, 1952. First edition. Octavo, original gray cloth boards with black spine, uncut, original dust jacket. Book is near-fine, gentle wear to the corner of the front panel and soiling and creasing to back panel of the dust jacket. Item #315
"I DID NOT KNOW IN WHAT I BELIEVED, THOUGH I TRIED TO SERVE A CAUSE" Surprisingly uncommon first edition of The Long Loneliness, the enduring autobiography of the most notable American lay Catholic of the 20th century. The opening passage in "Confession" immerses the reader in a very specific time and place (a Catholic Church, in summer, in mid-century New York City): "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. The first 25 years were times of turbulence and insecurity. That all changed after a succession of pivotal events: the birth (and baptism) of her daughter Tamar Teresa in 1926, her own conversion to Catholicism in 1927, and her meeting Peter Maurin and the founding of The Catholic Worker movement in 1933. The book is composed of five sections: Confession, Part One. Searching, Part Two. Natural Happiness, Part Three. Love is the Measure, Postscript. The title is derived from a passage by the (now Venerable) English nun, Mary Ward, reprinted on the half-title. With dust jacket, frontispiece, and chapter vignettes illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg and a photographic portrait of Dorothy by Berenice Abbot on the back panel. Copyright page with Harper and Brother code "M-A" indicating a publication date of December 1951. Menendez, The Road to Rome, 492. A high-spot in the history of 20th-century American Catholicism.