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.
A Pelican in the Wilderness
Hermits, Solitaries, and Recluses
List Price: $16.95
Isabel Colegate is the author of twelve novels, a collection of short stories, and A Pelican in the Wilderness: Hermits, Solitaries, and Recluses. She lives near Bath, England.
"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." —The 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." —The Washington Times