A Book of Silence
By Sara Maitland
(Counterpoint, Hardcover, 9781582435176, 320pp.)
Publication Date: September 2009
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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In her late forties, after a noisy upbringing as one of six children and adulthood as a vocal feminist and mother, Sara Maitland found herself living alone in the country, and, to her surprise, falling in love with silence. In this fascinating, intelligent, beautifully written book, Maitland describes how she set out to explore this new love, spending periods of silence in the Sinai desert, the Scottish hills, and a remote cottage on the Isle of Skye.
Maitland finds her experiences both euphoric and dark, mirrored in the accounts of others who have encountered silence from explorers and mystics to long-distance sailors. And in a wonderfully confiding, witty voice, she delves deep into the rich cultural history of silence, exploring its significance in fairytale and myth, its importance to the Western and Eastern religious traditions, and its use in psychoanalysis and artistic expression.
Maitland’s journey into silence holds surprises and setbacks, but mainly reveals a deepening happiness. Her story culminates in her building a hermitage on an isolated moor in Galloway, and as she guides readers through experiences of silence in this new home, she evokes a sense of peace that includes the reader in its intimate tranquility.
As Maitland seeks to both lose and find herself in silence, she articulates a remarkably graceful and penetrating response to that mysterious and essential force.” Booklist (starred review)
A timely and alluring exploration of the pleasures and powers of silence.” Tim Parks, author of A Season with Verona