London: Burns & Oates. 16mo, original flexible black leatherette boards, original gold foil dust jacket. Small bookseller's ticket, owner signature, neat pencil and ink underlining and pencil notes throughout, else a near-fine example in a price-clipped dust jacket. Item #587
"THEN WILL HE SEND OUT A BEAM OF GHOSTLY LIGHT, PIERCING THIS CLOUD OF UNKNOWING THAT IS BETWIXT THEE AND HIM AND SHOW THEE SOME OF HIS SECRETS" Golden Library edition of the Cloud of Unknowing, together with the Epistle of Privy Council, an enduring expression of medieval English mysticism. Authored by an unknown (but learned) mystic in the latter part of the fourteenth-century, the Cloud serves as practical advice to a young monk seeking to know how to achieve union with God. This practicality seeks a balance between action and contemplation and the novice is instructed on the "negative theology" behind the idea of unknowing: "Man's part in drawing near to God consists in emptying his mind of every thought. When he has brought his reason to a standstill, he must wait for God to disclose Himself. The experience of union is momentary and indescribable..." (Magill, Masterpieces of Christian Literature). Edited by the English Benedictine, Abbot Justin McCann and first published by Burns Oates in 1924. McCann's valuable Introduction provides the reader with a sense of the schisms, plagues, and wars that marked the often-calamitous fourteenth-century. McCann describes the Cloud as a "difficult" but rewarding book, "distinguished by many passages of great literary beauty, and instinct with profound thought and a contagious enthusiasm." This edition was printed in Belgium and published as part of the publisher's Golden Library series, with a wonderful example of the distinctive gold foil dust wrapper. The Burns Oates imprint at the foot of the title page has been covered with a sticker for Anthony Clarke Books. A lovely copy of one of the most profound examples of contemplative thought from the Golden Age of medieval English spirituality. Approbations.