House of Hospitality. Dorothy Day.
House of Hospitality

House of Hospitality

New York and London: Sheed & Ward, 1939. First edition. Octavo, original heather blue cloth, original dust jacket. Early owner signature on front pastedown, book with tanning to the pastedowns, gentle toning and light wear to spine ends, small loss to upper edges and toning to spine of bright, unclipped dust jacket. Very good indeed. Item #534

"OUR LIVES ARE MADE UP OF LITTLE MIRACLES DAY BY DAY" First edition of Dorothy Day’s first Catholic book, her contemporary account of the first flowering of the Catholic Worker movement. Dorothy Day had entered the Catholic Church in 1927, shortly after the baptism of her infant daughter Tamar. In 1932 she met an itinerant Frenchman named Peter Maurin and together they founded The Catholic Worker, adopting Maurin's radical embrace of voluntary poverty, solidarity, and non-violence. "Maurin had a three-part program, which involved starting a newspaper 'for the clarification of thought;' organizing 'houses of hospitality' for the practice of the works of mercy...and the organization of farming communes as the first step toward a decentralized, communitarian economy." (Robert Ellsberg, All Saints). The first issue of the Catholic Worker appeared on May Day, 1933 (later the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker).

Towards the end of the decade, Dorothy drew from her journals and her writings in The Catholic Worker to publish her first post-conversion books. Dorothy was evidently disenchanted with 1938's From Union Square to Rome, her memoirs of her journey away from the secular socialism of her youth and towards Roman Catholicism. Her tales of the birth of the Catholic Worker should be seen as her first Catholic book. House of Hospitality opens with her lengthy Foreword (arranged in seven numbered sections) wherein Day takes the reader to the sidewalks of New York in the 1930s, describing the sheer scale of the Great Depression gripping New York City: "Christmas Day ten of us took bundles of papers down to the Municipal Lodging House at South Ferry, where 12,000 men were being fed Christmas dinner. Up at the 25th Street Lodging House 5,000 more were being provided with Christmas dinners and cigarettes. We were not given permission to give out the papers in the dining room, but we stood outside the entrance and went along South Street distributing." But for all its grittiness, Dorothy's narrative is also marked by passages of profound and luminous spirituality: “Our lives are made up of little miracles day by day. That splendid globe of sun, one street wide, framed at the foot of East 14th Street in early morning mists, that greeted me on my way out to Mass, was a miracle that lifted up my heart.” Printed on laid paper for Sheed and Ward and published in August 1939. This copy is complete with the rare illustrated "tenement yard" dust jacket.

Price: $300.00

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