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Merton's Correspondence with:

William Congdon; William G. Congdon; Bill Congdon; Congdon, Bill

Congdon, William G., 1912-1998  printer

 
 

Descriptive Summary

Record Group: Section A - Correspondence
Dates of materials: 1961-1967
Volume: 19 item(s); 20 pg(s)

Scope and Content

Congdon visited Merton on May 27, 1961 (mentioned in his journals), and Congdon left him the manuscript for his conversion story and theory of Christian art and symbolism, In My Disc of Gold: Itinerary to Christ of William Congdon. Contemporaneous with Merton's work on the uncompleted Art and Worship, Merton shared similarities in interest and background with Congdon: a mix of European and American outlook, influence of the Second World War, conversion to Catholicism, tastes in and theories of art, and a thirst for solitude. Merton and Jacques Maritain both contribute to Congdon's book. This group of letters contains photocopies and carbons of Merton's letters, and original, handwritten letters and postcards from Congdon. The postcards and letters also contain messages written and signed by Congdon's friend Paolo Mangini.

Biography

William Congdon was an American artist who converted to Catholicism in 1959. For much of his life, he was a wanderer who rejected a life as heir to a wealthy Rhode Island family. His conversion happened in Assisi, where he would live much of the rest of his life, dieing in Italy in 1998. His early artistic influences came from the neo-romantic and abstract expressionist schools. After his conversion to Catholicism, he produced many religiously themed works of art. His biography from his foundation's web site likens his conversion to a "suicide", marginalizing him from the mainstream art community. Congdon wrote essays on art, especially sacred art and the duty of a Christian artist. Merton was writing about similar themes in his unpublished work, Art and Worship. (Source: Official William Congdon Site, maintained by the William G. Congdon Foundation, ‹http://www.congdon.it/›, 2004/09/16.)

Usage Guidelines and Restrictions

Please click here for general restrictions concerning Merton's correspondence.

Related Information and Links

See also In My Disc of Gold: Itinerary to Christ of William Congdon with presentations by Jacques Maritain, M.C. D'Arcy and Thomas Merton; see also Eloise Spaeth file in regard to Art and Worship and Merton's recommendation for Congdon to contact her.

Series List

This Record Sub-Group is not divided into Series and is arranged chronologically.

Container List

#DateFrom/ToFirst LinesPubNotes
1. 1961/05/29 TALS[x] from Merton I want to get your ms back to you fast as you may need it. The first part is fine, I only regret «detailed view»
2. 1961/06/07 TALS[x] from Merton Because I have so very little time I am only able to write a bare page for you. I am ashamed «detailed view»
3. 1961/06/08 TLS[x] from Merton Here are the few words I promised you yesterday. I hope they are satisfactory. Do you intend «detailed view»
4. 1961/11/17 TALS[x] from Merton Several reasons why I have been unable to get to your fine letter of October 26th until now. Christian view against nuclear arms and for peace / Eloise Spaeth / Congdon's painting "fall[s] in the main Christian tradition of the contemplation of Light: the joannine tradition... more affinities with the early monastic manuscript illumination" / invites Congdon to visit again / Congdon's help in church renovation «detailed view»
5. 1962/01/15 TLS[x] from Merton Of course you can bring Paolo here with you. I shall look forward to seeing you some time «detailed view»
6. 1962/04/20 TALS[x] from Merton An Easter letter at least. I am glad above all that you have found someone who can guide you inability to provide spiritual direction for Congdon and Mangini from a distance - help of Dom Giovanni «detailed view»
7. 1962/05/08 TALS[x] from Merton Thanks for your very fine letter. It is good to know that the air has cleared and that perspectives resolution of conflict between Congdon and Mangini «detailed view»
8. 1962/05/19 HPCS to Merton Un pensiero e preghiera per lei! I received, and thank you for your letter. [from Congdon and Paolo Mangini] «detailed view»
9. 1962/07/04 HPCS to Merton When will I paint with this liberty? When I am free! -- Always gratefully - Bill Congdon [from Congdon and Paolo Mangini] «detailed view»
10. 1962/10/28 HPCS to Merton I am thinking of you [...] these days - trusting that your prayer to Congress will awaken, illumine, «detailed view»
11. 1962/12/16 HPCS to Merton [...] preghiere - e imploraudo le sue. [verso: "Madonnina azzurra" by William Congdon from the Galleria d'Arte Sacra Contemporanea Pro Civitate Christiana - Assisi] «detailed view»
12. 1963/04/14 HPCS to Merton Begging a remembrance from you for Easter in your prayers, as you are gratefully in my own - [written from Jerusalem on Easter 1963 - verso: photo of the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem] «detailed view»
13. 1963/08/11 TLS[x] from Merton Sorry for the long delay on your letter. I had to inquire from friends in New York, as I do not good sales numbers for In My Disc of Gold «detailed view»
14. 1963/08/29 HPCS to Merton Thank you for your reassuring counsel regarding my book which I shall happily leave in the present «detailed view»
15. 1965/06/18 HLS to Merton Divine Providence has so arranged that, by order of the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Giovanni Cardinal Giovanni Colombo / travel to University of Notre Dame in the US with Dom Luigi Guissani - plans to visit Merton in late August or early September «detailed view»
16. 1965/06/27 (#01) TAL[c] from Merton It was good to get your letter and to learn that you will be in this country with Dom Luigi Gussani. cannot accept any additional visitors by order of Dom James - Congdon could write the abbot for permission / Vietnam and the Pope's visit to the United Nations - "Nothing else seems to count with Johnson, who listens to the Pentagon and its computers more than he does to 'liberal intellectuals'" «detailed view»
17. 1965/06/27 (#02) TALS[x] from Merton It was good to get your letter and to learn that you will be in this country with Dom Luigi Gussani. cannot accept any additional visitors by order of Dom James - Congdon could write the abbot for permission / Vietnam and the Pope's visit to the United Nations - "Nothing else seems to count with Johnson, who listens to the Pentagon and its computers more than he does to 'liberal intellectuals'" «detailed view»
18. 1967/05/22 TL[c] from Merton Yes, I did get the splendid ikon calendar which fills the place with its subdued light. Many thanks Dom James' censorship of mail - change of abbot / love and the married life / ordination of Dan Walsh / "I am glad to be where I am-- on the hill and out of the community." «detailed view»
19. undated/no/no other   THE FOUNDATION FOR IMPROVING UNDERSTANDING OF THE ARTS [brochure for the foundation Congdon founded in 1979 - after his death in 1998, name changed to William Congdon Foundation - works for art awareness and promoting the legacy of Congdon] «detailed view»

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