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Robert Coles first met Dorothy Day over thirty-five years ago when, as a medical student, he worked in one of her Catholic Worker soup kitchens. He remained close to this inspiring and controversial woman until her death in 1980. His book, an intellectual and psychological portrait, confronts candidly the central puzzles of her life: the sophisticated Greenwich Village novelist and reporter who converted to Catholicism; the single mother who raised her child in a most unorthodox "family"; her struggles with sexuality, loneliness, and pride; her devout religious conservatism coupled with radical politics. This intense portrait is based on many years of conversation and correspondence, as well as tape-recorded interviews.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780201079746
ISBN-10: 0201079747
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 18mm)
Pages: 206
Imprint: Da Capo Press Inc
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 1-Jan-1989
Country of Publication: United States


US Kirkus Review » A biography of the cofounder of The Catholic Worker, by a longtime colleague, friend and admirer. There's rarely a discordant note of criticism here, and because Coles knew Day as a friend, he is able to speak about things intimate to her, such as her love affairs. We do not associate the eventually stern activist with a young woman who recalled of an early lover: "I loved his lean cold body as he got into bed smelling of the sea." Coles' first meeting with his subject is a pretty story that epitomizes her attitude to life: Day was conversing with a visibly deranged bag lady, and finally turned to Coles to ask if he was "waiting to speak to one of us." This lack of a "holier-than-thou" attitude was one of Day's greatest contributions to the Catholic Church. Her supporters always included literary men such as Dwight MacDonald and W.H. Auden, perhaps because of her own genuine love of literature. To those who wished to understand her thinking, she recommended reading Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Dickens, Graham Greene, Ignazio Silone, and George Bernanos. We can be thankful that this ardent intellect and merciful woman has found such an excellent explicator as Coles. An admirable work. (Kirkus Reviews)

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