An Infinity of Little Hours: Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World’s Most Austere Monastic Order
In 1960, five young men arrived at the imposing gates of Parkminster, the largest center of the most rigorous and ascetic monastic order in the Western world: the Carthusians. This is the story of their five-year journey into a society virtually unchanged in its behavior and lifestyle since its foundation in 1084.
A uniquely intimate portrait of the customs and practices of a monastic order almost entirely unknown until now, the book is also a drama of the men’s struggle as they enter into an entirely different era and a spiritual world of their own making. After five years each must face a choice: if they stay to make “solemn profession” they will never leave. But if they leave, they will be turning their backs on a journey to find God in solitude—their life’s ambition.
A remarkable investigative work, AN INFINITY OF LITTLE HOURS (March 2006; $26.00; 272 pp; ISBN 1-58648-327-7) combines first-hand testimony with unique source material to describe the Carthusian life. And in the final chapter, describing a reunion forty years after the events described elsewhere in the book, Nancy Klein Maguire reveals which of the five made it to the top of the mountain and how the others incorporated their experience of attempting the climb as they rejoined the world outside the order.
Nancy Klein Maguire is the author of numerous publications on the relationship of theatre and politics in the seventeenth century. She has reviewed frequently, most recently for the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Living in Washington, DC, she has been a Scholar-in-Residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library since 1985.
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