The Dorothy Day Book, compiled by Margaret Quigley and Michael Garvey, is a kind of posthumous commonplace book, that is, a collection of quotations from Dorothy’s decades of reading (largely from her column in the Catholic Worker), interspersed with some of her own commentaries on her life.
As this slim volume attests, she was a voracious and vivacious reader, culling wisdom, aperçus, exhortations, and epigrams from saints (Gertrude, Teresa of Avila, Maximilian Kolbe), rabbis (A.J. Heschel), popes (Leo XIII, Pius XI, John XXIII), sages (R.W. Emerson and H.D. Thoreau), novelists (Upton Sinclair, George Orwell, Leo Tolstoy, Henry Miller), activists (Danilo Dolci, Mohandas Gandhi, A.J. Muste), literary critics (Raymond Williams), philosophers (Immanuel Kant, Simone Weil, Herbert Marcuse), monks (Roger of Taize, Thomas Merton, Thich Nhat Hanh), poets (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, W. H. Auden), prophets (Isaiah), theologians (Teilhard de Chardin, Johannes Baptist Metz), even university presidents (Theodore Hesburgh), to name but some of those cited in these pages. The entries reveal Dorothy’s preoccupations with property and poverty, war and peace, patriotism and idolatry, service and self-purification. She read newspapers and the Book of Common prayer, classic novels and the lives of the saints, social criticism and spiritual testimonies. Her practice of reading was a decades-long, spirited clarification of thought.
In their introduction, the editors quote Dorothy’s view of reading: “The books will always be there. If we give up many other distractions, we can turn to them. We can browse among the millions of words written and often just what we find can nourish us, enlighten us, strengthen us — in fact, be our food just as Christ, The Word, is also our food.”
Here is what I’ve culled from her culling and own writing … Read the rest of this entry »