A pelican in the wilderness hermits and solitaries

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a pelican in the wilderness hermits and solitaries

A Pelican in the Wilderness: Hermits, Solitaries, and Recluses by Isabel Colegate

Few books contain a cast of characters as fascinating as those who populate A Pelican in the Wilderness, Isabel Colegates charming meander through the history of hermits and solitaries. Elegantly written...a small gem of a book.-- Wall Street Journal

From Lao-tse and the Buddha, St. Anthony and the early Celtic hermits, through Rousseau, Thoreau, Ruskin and down to the present day, certain gifted persons, each in his own way, have shown a vocation for living alone and apart, finding in simplicity and attention to Nature a spiritual space to be explored and rejoiced in. Others, retreating from the world in scorn or cut off from it by scandal, have found that solitude is Hell, a pit of melancholy and morbid fancy. In this, her first work of nonfiction, novelist Isabel Colegate gives us the lives of the solitaries--male and female, medieval and modern, divinely inspired and patently fraudulent. But this is no mere gallery of saints and sinners, poets and misanthropes. It is also a re-valuation of solitude for our times, and a reminder that it is in solitude that the soul meets itself, refreshes itself, and from there goes out to join the communal dance.

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The rainforest hermit who stepped out of the wild - Australian Story

Elegantly written From Lao-tse and the Buddha, St. Anthony and the early Celtic hermits, through Rousseau, Thoreau, Ruskin and up to the present day, certain gifted persons have shown a vocation for living alone and apart, finding in simplicity and attention to nature a spiritual space to be explored and rejoiced in.
Isabel Colegate

A Pelican in the Wilderness

This is a delicious book, not least because it has a brisk, even secular, approach to a subject too often approached in a spirit of gushing awe. Not credulous, but not cynical either, Isabel Colegate begins with speculation about a ruined 18th-century hermitage in her own garden. She takes us deep into the Enlightenment, when cultured people — notably sociable, most of them — thrilled themselves with the idea of the craggy unsociability of the hermit. Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia has again made this a familiar theme. It is a good starting-point because it forces us to see how cosmopolitan is the longing — mostly unrequited, and often more playful than religious — for loneliness.

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From Lao-tse and the Buddha, St. Anthony and the early Celtic hermits, through Rousseau, Thoreau, Ruskin, and up to the present day, certain gifted persons have shown a vocation for living alone and apart, finding in simplicity and attention to nature a spiritual space to be explored and rejoiced in. Others, retreating from the world in scorn or cut off from it by scandal, have found that solitude is Hell, a pit of melancholy and morbid fancy. In this, her first work of nonfiction, novelist Isabel Colegate gives us the lives of the solitaries — male and female, medieval and modern, divinely inspired and patently fraudulent. But this is no mere gallery of saints and sinners, poets and misanthropes. It is also a reevaluation of solitude for our times, and a reminder that it is in solitude that the soul meets itself, refreshes itself, and from there goes out to join the communal dance.

From Lao-tse and the Buddha, St. Anthony and the early Celtic hermits, through Rousseau, Thoreau, Ruskin and down to the. Anthony and the early Celtic hermits, through Rousseau, Thoreau, Ruskin and down to the present day, certain gifted persons, each in his own way, have shown a vocation for living alone and apart, finding in simplicity and attention to Nature a spiritual space to be explored and rejoiced in. Others, retreating from the world in scorn or cut off from it by scandal, have found that solitude is Hell, a pit of melancholy and morbid fancy. In this, her first work of nonfiction, novelist Isabel Colegate gives us the lives of the solitaries--male and female, medieval and modern, divinely inspired and patently fraudulent. But this is no mere gallery of saints and sinners, poets and misanthropes. It is also a re-valuation of solitude for our times, and a reminder that it is in solitude that the soul meets itself, refreshes itself, and from there goes out to join the communal dance.

The author comes to her material not as scholar, not as a historian, but as a writer who herself has felt the pull of solitude. Her book is a witty, idiosyncratic personal essay that draws upon the lives, examples, and ways of those hermits and solitaries she has come to know, either through their books, books about them, or visits to their places. Some are saints and heroes, others eccentrics and frauds, but all are unforgettable. Those who love Colegate's fiction will find all of its virtues here: historical imagination, quicksilver characterization, and a taste for the ridiculous matched by a power to evoke the sublime. I found various stories while well written not tied together logically. It's like a set of different articles on similar subject. Isabel Colegate.

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