The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

Advanced Search 

Merton's Correspondence with:

Erich Fromm

Fromm, Erich, 1900-1980  printer


Descriptive Summary

Record Group: Section A - Correspondence
Dates of materials: 1954-1966, 1973-1975
Volume: 50 item(s); 99 pg(s)

Scope and Content

This large and important cache of letters holds an intellectual dialogue between two individuals with some very different views on such issues as religion, but similar takes on politics and non-violence. Some of Merton's earlier correspondence are copies, but many original pieces exist for both men in the later correspondence. Though Merton had abandoned an earlier interest in psychoanalysis, he was interested in Fromm's work and took a fresh look at it. Other subjects include war and anti-war movements, non-theistic spirituality, Karl Marx, Jewish vs. Christian experience, and differing opinions on the history of religion.


Erich Fromm was born in 1900 in Frankfurt, Germany. He left Nazi Germany in 1934 and came to New York. After teaching at a number of universities, he became professor of psychoanalysis at the National University of Mexico in 1951. Fromm was an author, psychoanalyst, philosopher, and anthropologist. Religiously, he had a Jewish upbringing and a background in the Talmud. In his adult life, he was atheist, but stressed a non-theistic spirituality that he found in the writings of Karl Marx, who was a profound influence on his view of human adjustment to society and which shaped his writings on psychoanalysis. (Source: The Hidden Ground of Love, p. 308.)

Usage Guidelines and Restrictions

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

Those items marked in the container list as originating from the University of Kentucky Special Collections are not to be reproduced or published without their written permission.

Related Information and Links

See also Cold War Letters #5 and other letters from Merton to Fromm published in The Hidden Ground of Love, pp. 308-324.

Series List

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

Container List

#DateFrom/ToFirst LinesPub ✓Notes
 y/m/dMerton Scan ✉ 
1. 1954/10/02 TL[x] from Merton Some time ago when I was reading you Psychoanalysis and Religion I thought I would write you [last page/pages not included?] Man for Himself / Escape from Freedom / Karen Horney / psychoanalyst and the Catholic priest / Rule of St. Benedict and spiritual formation / obedience and authority / disagreement about mystics and God's existence «detailed view»
2. 1954/10/27 TLS[x] to Merton I was deeply touched by your letter, both by your kindness in writing me your reaction to my books, obedience and humility / authority / mystical religion «detailed view»
3. 1954/12/08 TLS[x] to Merton Thank you very much for your kind and interesting letter of November 9th. I would have answered Adam story in Genesis / Kafka's "In the Penal Colony" / self-sacrifice as narcissism / Escape from Freedom / Billy Graham, Rev. Peale, Bishop Sheen and selling religion «detailed view»
4. 1955/03/18 (#01) TLS[x] from Merton Even though I am answering your letter at the earliest opportunity I do not suppose that I can catch discussing the risk of atomic war «detailed view»
5. 1955/03/18 (#02) transcript from Merton Even though I am answering your letter at the earliest opportunity, I do not suppose that I can [copy of published version] atomic war / inability to sign declaration / suggests Jacques Maritain and Bishop John Wright / China and Formosa / No Man Is an Island «detailed view»
6. 1955/04/13 TLS[x] to Merton I received your letter of March 18th when I arrived back in Mexico about 2 weeks ago. I am sorry atomic war / Merton not able to sign petition / Ascent to Truth and No Man Is an Island / Persian mystic Rumi «detailed view»
7. 1955/09/12 TL[x] from Merton I am about half way through the Sane Society which I received some time ago. I am reading it mental health / Eric Gill's thought on work / Merton's disagreements about Fromm's history of religions / Ecclesiastes and Lao Tse / Forgotten Language «detailed view»
8. 1955/10/28 HLS to Merton I must count on your patience if I hope you forgive my long silence. It was not the result Rumi / Simone Weil / possibility of having to cease correspondence due to Merton's solitude / Fromm relates blessing story from Talmud «detailed view»
9. 1958/10/30 TLS[x] to Merton Had I not been sick for quite a few weeks, I would have thanked you earlier for your very kind book on Prometheus / Zen Buddhism and psychoanalysis / Dr. Suzuki «detailed view»
10. 1959/03/18 TLS[x] to Merton I just received your letter of March 5th, and I do not want to delay expressing to you my gratitude Zen Buddhism and psychoanalysis / Dr. Suzuki / I Ching «detailed view»
11. 1960/09/30 TLS from Merton Under separate cover a new book of mine is on its way to you: Disputed Questions. Dr. Suzuki / Abraham Heschel / Niebuhr / U.S. and Cuba «detailed view»
12. 1960/11/03 TALS[x] to Merton When I returned yesterday from a prolonged trip to the states I found to my great pleasure your Dr. Suzuki / Sane Nuclear Policy movement / war / Cuba / Debs Dinner of the Socialist Party speech published in "Daedalus" / English translation of Marx / Marx's spiritual non-theistic mysticism and existentialism vs. Sartre or Heidegger «detailed view»
13. 1961/03/11 TLS[x] to Merton I just want to thank you for sending me your piece on the atom bomb, which I found powerful and James Laughlin / book on foreign policy / atomic warfare / Herman Kahn from the Rand Corporation «detailed view»
14. 1961/09/26 TLS from Merton Your latest book has reached me and the material is very interesting. The texts you have presented [verso: scribbles and writing in black ink] Marx / "species being" / alienated society / Dr. Suzuki «detailed view»
15. 1961/10/09 TLS to Merton Thank you very much for your letter of September 26th, which I found here on my return from a trip Marx's non-alienated man / connections between Marx and non-theistic mysticism like Zen Buddhism / post-apocalyptic vision of fighting to defend a fall-out shelter in atomic aftermath «detailed view»
16. 1961/11/14 TLS from Merton Your new book MAY MAN PREVAIL has reached me and I am reading it with the greatest interest. New Directions' anthology on peace / Daedalus article on unilateral disarmament / Lewis Mumford / Jerome Frank / Catholic peace movement / Cardinal Ottaviani «detailed view»
17. 1961/11/23 TALS to Merton Thank you very much for your letter of November 14th, which I received today. First of all I want May Man Prevail / Catholic peace movement / Dr. John Bennett from Union Theological Seminary / Pablo Antonio Cuadra / English translation of a Russian poem included: "Babi Yar" by Yevg. Yevtushenko «detailed view»
18. 1961/12/no other from Merton I am deeply grateful for your two letters, and glad to hear the new book is coming along so well. [Cold War Letters, #5] experience of the Jews / Christians too sure of freedom / Catholic peace movement / Catholic Worker / English Catholics / Walter Stein Nuclear Weapons and the Christian Conscience / refusal of Europeans to publish some anti-war articles and articles on Auschwitz because the material was too negative / Yevtushenko poem / world government «detailed view»
19. 1962/01/30 TALS to Merton I would have answered you much earlier, but I was busy finishing an article on Civil Defense for Catholic Worker article on war / enclosing copy of poem by young Russian poet / Russian system / Herman Kahn «detailed view»
20. 1962/02/16 TLS from Merton I was sorry to hear you had been ill, and glad to hear you had been finishing the article on Civil article for Fellowship enclosed / monastery's routine censorship / Yevtushenko poem on Babi Yar «detailed view»
21. 1962/02/26 TALS to Merton Thank you so much for your letter of February 16. In the meantime I also had a letter from Mr. James Laughlin of New Directions / paper on civil defense / humanism of the 18th century - Goethe, Herder, Schiller, Lessing, Marx / United Nations «detailed view»
22. 1963/09/10 TALS to Merton I am sure you have seen my little paper on "War Within Man" in the series "Beyond Deterrents." European philosophical meeting on "Man and Modern Society" / Yugoslav, Czech, and Polish philosophers / liberal Jesuit theologians - Diaz Allegria, Danielou, Karl Rahner / Nicolas of Cusa / Albert Schweitzer «detailed view»
23. 1963/10/08 TL[c] from Merton It was good to hear from you again. I am sorry for my long silence, but I have had a hard time hospital for cervical disc / Yugoslav and Polish "revisionists" / "unconscious faith", Kierkegaard, conformism and security / humanist studies / Pax award «detailed view»
24. 1965/12/20 TL[x] to Merton I have not heard from you for a very long time, but my thoughts have always been with you. new year's greetings «detailed view»
25. 1966/01/15 TALS from Merton I was glad to get your note. You are right, I have not written for a long time, but I think of you Reza Arasteh / Rumi / Chuang Tzu / Gandhi / Zen / hermitage / «detailed view»
26. 1966/02/07 TALS to Merton Thank you very much for your letter of January 15th, which I was very happy to receive. Your letter Chuang Tzu / Gandhi / hermitage / book on Old Testament / Talmud / Psalms / new book on psychoanalysis and the concept of the unconscious / Dr. Suzuki, Dr. Stunkard and Mr. de Martino / Monsignor [Ivan D.] Illich and discussions of non-theistic religious experience «detailed view»
27. 1966/04/27 HLS from Merton The other day I finished your Heart of Man and found much good in this expansion of the recovering from operation / hermitage / Chuang Tzu «detailed view»
28. 1966/08/25 TLS to Merton Upon my return a few days ago from a long trip I found your card of April 27 with enclosure. I hope Dr. Machovec, a Marxist and non-theistic religious man of metaphysical radicalism, book on Karl Barth's theology and "The Meaning of Life" / Don Milani / Clara Urquhart / You Shall Be as Gods, a Radical Interpretation of the Old Testament and Its Tradition by Fromm / meditation «detailed view»
29. 1966/10/08 TLS to Merton I hate to impose upon you, but I am sure you will understand why I do it. One of our neighbors here [8 pages of enclosures] pgs 1-4, Memorandum RE: "Papal Conference on Solutions to the Present Dangers to the Survival of Mankind", Biographical sketch of poet Carmen Blumenkron / 3 Blumenkron poems: "Laudamus Te", "Autumn Psalm" and "Chalice of Silence" «detailed view»
30. 1966/10/13 TL[c] from Merton I have been hoping to answer your letter of late August and now your new letter with the poems of conference "on solutions to the present dangers to the survival of mankind" / suggestions on a location other than Rome / Papal involvement / Carmen Blumenkron's poems / Dr. Machovec / Elizabeth Mann Borghese / Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander / Don Milani / Padre Camilo Torres / Albert Camus «detailed view»
31. 1973/10/09 TLS to Center from Fromm, Erich I am very embarrassed to find your letter of August 7th 1972 which had been misplaced in a folder Discusses sending original letters from Merton to the Center «detailed view»
32. 1973/11/30 TLS[x] from Center to Fromm, Erich Mr. Victor Kramer at Georgia State University has requested permission to look at your «detailed view»
33. 1973/12/05 TL[c] from Center to Fromm, Erich Your letter addressed to Mr. Raymond Bailey was forwarded to me just today for answering. Request for Fromm's correspondence and asking permission for researchers to use his letters «detailed view»
34. 1974/12/17 TL[c] to Center from Fromm, Erich Thank you for your letter of 30th August, which arrived during my absence and was mislaid in a wrong [card enclosed with indications of what rights researchers will have in using his materials] «detailed view»
35. 1975/02/25 TLS to Center from Mayer, B. H. Following the correspondence with Miss Betty Delius, Dr. Fromm has asked me to send to you the Letter from Fromm's secretary that accompanied the letters of Fromm's he sent «detailed view»
36. 1983/02/28 TLS[x]  from Shannon, William / to Ruth Liepman I am a professor at Nazareth College of Rochester and an author. I have recently been appointed by seeking letters previous to 1960/09/30 and any between 1963 and 1966 / Ruth represents the Erich Fromm estate «detailed view»
37. 1983/06/03 TLS  from Weibel, Ruth / to William Shannon Re: missing letters from Thomas Merton to Erich Fromm follow up letter «detailed view»
38. 1983/06/06 TLS  from Funk, Rainer / to William Shannon unfortunately it took some time to send a copy of your letter to the literary agency to me (I am the no letters between or before / Dr. Funk is Fromm archivist «detailed view»
39. 1983/06/10 TLS[x]  from Shannon, William / to Ruth Weibel Thank you for your kind letter of June 3 responding to my letter of February 28. I appreciate your thanks for forwarding letter / seeking addresses and phone numbers (Mrs. Fromm/Dr Funk) «detailed view»
40. 1983/07/06 TLS[x]  from Shannon, William / to Rainer Funk Thank you for your letter of June 6. I am enclosing the two letters you requested of Merton to Dr. letters have been discovered at the Special Collections - UK, Lexington, KY. / also seeking final draft of Erich Fromm's THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CAUSES OF WAR «detailed view»
41. 1983/07/26 TLS  from Funk, Rainer / to William Shannon thank you very much for your letter of July 6. Meantime I sent you by special mail the xerocopies thanks for xeroxed copies and UK address «detailed view»
42. 1983/08/07 TLS[x]  from Shannon, William / to William Marshall I'm going over the Erich Fromm letters, I noted that the letter of October 2, 1954 should be three seeing third page of letter / Wm. Marshall: University of Kentucky Libraries (Special Collections), Lexington, KY «detailed view»
43. 1983/08/15 TLS  from McCann, Claire / to William Shannon Mr. Marshall is out of the office for a few days so I'm replying to your letter of August 7th. the 1954/10/02 letter to Dr. Fromm is incomplete «detailed view»
44. 1983/10/01 TLS  from Funk, Rainer / to William Shannon in your letter, dated July 6, 1983, you asked me for the final draft of Merton's comments on Fromm's «detailed view»
45. 1983/11/03 TLS[x]  from Shannon, William / to Rainer Funk I received the package you sent enclosing Merton's commentary on Erich Fromm's manuscript which «detailed view»
46. 1983/12/04 TLS  from Funk, Rainer / to William Shannon thank you very much for your letter and also for the xerocopies of WAR WITHIN MAN which I am glad to «detailed view»
47. 1984/02/01 TLS[x]  from Shannon, William / to Rainer Funk It has been some time since I have been in touch with you. I appreciate all the help you have given «detailed view»
48. 1984/03/01 TLS  from Funk, Rainer / to William Shannon excuse my delay in answering your letter. I have to plan a removal of the Archives to another house enclosures: CITIZENS FOR REASON declaration with Fromm asked Merton to sign in 1955 / also letters to various individuals about a Papal Conference «detailed view»
49. 1984/06/18 TLS  from Funk, Rainer / to William Shannon today I did find between the files the poem you asked for in your letter of February 1, 1984. enclosed: YEVTOSHENKO'S POEM ABOUT BABI YAR AND ANTI-SEMITES «detailed view»
50. undated/no/no other   Erich Fromm, psychoanalyst, philosopher and anthropologist, was born in Frankfort, Germany biographical information collected by Wm. Shannon «detailed view»

Printer-Friendly Version   Return to the Top of the Page