Cultivate Civil Rights: Thomas Merton’s prose elegy honoring Flannery O’Connor

From Maryann DiEdwardo

In 2018, I am presenting for two International conferences:

1. NeMLA Pittsburg 2018

Writing Trauma: Willa Cather and Toni Morrison

2. The College English Association has accepted my

proposal for our 2018 conference in St. Petersburg, Florida,

April 5-7, at the Hilton Bayfront.

Abstract of Contribution 105

ID: 105

Single Paper or Presentation

Topics: Peace Studies, Women’s Connection, Women’s Literature, WGST, Thomas Merton (ITMS)

Building Bridges To Cultivate Civil Rights: Thomas Merton’s prose elegy “Raids on the Unspeakable” from his 1966 collection of contemplative essays

Maryann DiEdwardo

University of Maryland University College; Lehigh University, United States of America

“A Comparison of Thomas Merton’s prose elegy ‘Raids on the Unspeakable’ from his 1966 collection of contemplative essays and A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor, published in 2013 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York, USA is transformation. A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor was published in 2013 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York, USA.The poetics of her work are essential for insights into her purpose about the writing she hoped to perform: “I do not want this to be a metaphysical exercise but something in praise of God” (52). O’Connor writes with language that is written for God alone. A Christian, she uses beautiful intrapersonal expression. The book has dated and undated entries. For instance, I appreciate those pages which show her handwritten entries. Poetics of O’Connor are based on her writings to The Lord. On page 67, the hand written darker inked portion where she tells her soulful decision that the journal is not quite a “direct medium for prayer” astounds us. Flannery O’Connor continues to write that “Prayer is not even as premeditated as this—it is of the moment and this to too slow for the moment” in a humanity that reaches our souls (11/4 entry). 37 pages of printed text to represent the actual journal; original text is included at the back of the volume, in O’Connor’s own hand. I argue that my study of A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor to study of language of trauma, preceded my current study of the value to O’Conner as a civil rights leader. Perhaps, Merton’s acknowledgement of the strength of O’Conner’s writing as civil rights literary textual signs provides evidence for my next book.


Page 3, the first undated entry which contains the language of the author as a “self shadow” which she says “will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon” (O’Connor 3). To understand we compare the passage to the work of Jacques Derrida who refers to “reverse metaphorization of concepts.” The reversal is such that there can be no final separation between the linguistic-metaphorical and the philosophical realms. By seeking to find connections in the works of Merton, I eventually return to my own journaling and my prayer journaling as well, to reconstruct my own writing as a peaceful endeavor.

Derrida, J. and Moore, F.C.T. White Mythology: Metaphor in the text of Philosophy. The John’s Hopkins. University Press. Accessed 2016-May 11. http://users.clas.ufl.edu/burt/derridawhitemyth.pdf

DiEdwardo, Maryann. American Women Writers, Poetics, and the Nature of Gender Study. England: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017.

Kilcourse, George. Thomas Merton Society Homepage. “Thomas Merton and Racism: ‘Letters to a White Liberal’ Reconsidered.” http://thomasmertonsociety.org/kilcour.htm

The Abbey of Gethsemani, The Hermitage. Video. 2017. http://www.monks.org/index.php/15-may-a-new-short-movie-featuring-the-hermitage

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