The Seven Storey Mountain

by Thomas Merton

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Seven Storey Mountain was written by Thomas Merton and first published in 1948. It marks Merton's emergence as a writing force to be reckoned with. The Seven Storey Mountain is an autobiographical work which tracks Merton's life from his early childhood through the present day. Merton splits his book into three separate sections. He chose to do this in reference to Dante's The Divine Comedy, which also has three sections.

The first section of the book covers Merton's life before he found God, which is a period of time he describes as "hell." The second section of the book focuses on the "purgatory" stage of Merton's life. This part of the book covers his search for God and for meaning in his life. Finally, the last section of the book covers the "paradise" portion of his life. This part occurs after Merton found God, was baptized, and entered into a monastery.

The Seven Storey Mountain was praised at its release for Merton's distinctive direct and unpretentious writing style. The story of how divine grace helped Merton move from the lowest level of spiritual understanding to the highest has continued to delight readers on their own spiritual quests to this day.

Merton was born in France but moved to Long Island because of World War I. After his mother died in 1921, Merton moved back to France with his father, who was a painter. However, his father died in 1930, and Merton was left with minimal supervision but a financially supportive grandfather. This led to a period in his life that Merton describes as pure debauchery. The story of his life is an inspiring one because it reminds religious people across the world that it is never too late to find God.

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