While it remains his most famous work, The Seven Storey Mountain is only the tip of the iceberg of Merton’s rich, multi-layered oeuvre.

In this series, you will join acclaimed Merton biographer Professor Michael W. Higgins in exploring Merton’s compelling autobiographical literature. As you examine Merton’s journals, letters, novels, and poetry, you will encounter a vivid portrait of the premier Catholic spiritual figure of the twentieth century.

Born during World War I to a pair of artists living in France, Thomas Merton was a brilliant, Columbia-educated scholar who lived a worldly existence. It was within the walls of the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemani, however, that he would truly discover his voice—the force behind his astounding literary output.

A chronicler of the soul’s unfolding, Merton lives on through his journals. As you will see, his endless and constant self-revision—his elaboration of The Seven Storey Mountain—remind us that the spiritual enterprise in which Merton was engaged was nothing less than the supreme enterprise of emptying himself.

Photographs of Thomas Merton used with permission of the Thomas Merton Legacy Trust and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University.

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain, and the Rest of the Story

    • The Seven Storey Mountain Study Guide

    • 01 Introduction to Thomas Merton

    • 02 The Secular Journal of Thomas Merton

    • 03 The Seven Storey Mountain, Part I

    • 04 The Seven Storey Mountain, Part II

    • 05 The Sign of Jonas

    • 06 Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

    • 07 A Vow of Conversation

    • 08 The New Mexico, Alaskan, and West Coast Journals

    • 09 The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton

    • 10 The Restricted Journals of Thomas Merton

    • 11 My Argument with the Gestapo: The Novel as Autobiography

    • 12 The Seven Storey Mountain Revisited