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A Pelican in the Wilderness

Hermits, Solitaries, and Recluses

List Price: $16.95

June 15, 2010 | Paperback |  5.5 x 8.2, 304 Pages | ISBN 9781582435916
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“Few books contain a cast of characters as fascinating as those who populate A Pelican in the Wilderness, Isabel Colegate’s 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 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 re-evaluation 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.

ISABEL COLEGATE was born in London and has long lived near Bath. She is the author of fourteen books, including, The Shooting Party and, most recently, the acclaimed novel Winter Journey.

Praise

“Few books contain a cast of characters as fascinating as those who populate A Pelican in the Wilderness, Isabel Colegate’s charming meander through the history of hermits and solitaries. Elegantly written… a small gem of a book.” —Wall Street Journal

“A bright and highly literate study of asceticism in both the East and the West.” —Los Angeles Times

“This is a charming book… witty and sagacious, entertaining and persuasive. It is not a volume that can be characterized as history or memoir or even a travel book but contains the best elements of all.” —Washington Times

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