Norfolk, Connecticut: New Directions, 1949. Early printing. Octavo, original oatmeal cloth boards, two mounted printed paper labels. Two embossed blindstamps (title page, pages 49, 140), both paper labels intact, slight toning to spine label, very faint spotting to clean, sharp-cornered boards. A lovely copy. Item #713
"LET US THROW OFF THE PIECES OF THE WORLD LIKE CLOTHING AND ENTER NAKED INTO WISDOM" First revised edition of Thomas Merton's meditations on the spiritual life—printed in the same year as first edition—a modern contribution to the contemplative tradition of John of the Cross and Thomas a Kempis. Seeds of Contemplation was completed in the summer of 1948 (the text concludes, "Abbey of Gethsemani/July 1, 1948/Vigil of Our Lady's Visitation") and first printed by Peter Beilenson for New Directions in February 1949. James Laughlin’s New Directions had published Merton’s first book (Thirty Poems, 1944) and the relationship between author and publisher continued until Merton’s death in 1968. Merton devoted his diary entry for March 6, 1949 to the book: "Yesterday Seeds of Contemplation arrived and it is handsome. I can hardly keep my hands off it" (Merton, The Sign of Jonas). The book is perhaps most notable for the appearance of 'The Root of War,' Merton’s first article about war and peace" (Paul Elie, The Life You Save May Be Your Own). This is the seventh printing, published in December 1949, featuring Merton's short Preface to the Revised Edition. The preface betrays Merton's continued ambivalence about his writing and the fame his books brought him: "This book was never intended to be popular. The fact that it has become so leaves the author happy, no doubt, but embarrassed." A tipped-in photograph ("Our Lady of Fontenay") opposite a Latin prayer: "Memento Dei Genitrix/Et miserere pauperum" and Merton's original Author's Note precedes the twenty-seven meditations. Approbations. Dell'Isola, Thomas Merton: A Bibliography, A9c.