After a noisy upbringing as one of six children, and adulthood as a vocal feminist and mother, Sara Maitland began to crave silence Over the past five years, she has spent periods of silence in the Sinai desert, the Australian bush, and a remote cottage on the Isle of Skye Her memoir of these experiences is interwoven with the history of silence through fairy tale and myAfter a noisy upbringing as one of six children, and adulthood as a vocal feminist and mother, Sara Maitland began to crave silence Over the past five years, she has spent periods of silence in the Sinai desert, the Australian bush, and a remote cottage on the Isle of Skye Her memoir of these experiences is interwoven with the history of silence through fairy tale and myth, Western and Eastern religious traditions, the Enlightenment and psychoanalysis, up to the ambivalence towards silence in contemporary society Maitland has built a hermitage on an isolated moor in Galloway, and the book culminates powerfully with her experiences of silence in this new home A Book of Silence is a deeply thoughtful, honest and illuminating memoir about a phenomenon too often neglected in the contemporary world.
A Book Of Silence After a noisy upbringing as one of six children and adulthood as a vocal feminist and mother Sara Maitland began to crave silence Over the past five years she has spent periods of silence in the Si
A Book of SilenceSara Maitland (2008)At first, I found myself totally immersed in this book – the need for silence, the difficulty in finding it, searching for it, gardening, reading, walking… the darker sides etc. A Book of Silence is full of very practical advice and examples of what to expect and how to prepare for extended periods of isolation/silence. Then, about a third of the way through, I began to feel that it was all becoming a little too obsessive, a little too much self-absorptio [...]
A remarkable, intensely interesting and very readable book. Sarah Maitland writes exquisitely.Her subject is Silence and her quest for it in the 21st century. We follow her journeyings and soak up her vast knowledge of the subject and matters surrounding it. The role of Silence in the lives of others, generally past,occasionally present.The book has 8 chapters:1. Growing up in a Noisy World – the context and reasons behind her writing this.2. Forty Days and Forty Nights – her search for Sile [...]
Sara Maitland’s work has often been infused with a sense of faith, and a fascination with myth and religion. It seems only fitting that with these interests would come a need to explore ways of living – and Maitland has become interested in the eremitical. Silence and a lack of human contact appealed to her, and so, over a decade, she began to explore this state of being – in the desert in Sinai, on the Isle of Skye over a harsh winter, and finally through the building of her home in rural [...]
Sara Maitland's book is an earnest and deep exploration of the nature and cultural significance of silence. By means of a series of real life experiments the author also tries to find out what it takes to put silence at the heart of a creative life. The journey starts with a six-week stay in a remote cottage on the Scottish Isle of Skye. Maitland is very articulate, almost analytical, about the at times unsettling mental and physical sensations that accompanied her silent retreat. For Maitland t [...]
This is an unusual book: it's style reminds me of the way books used to be, before we in America began to value the personal voice. Sarah Maitland writes a very personal book, but in a way that an academic would write it. The shadow of patriarchy looms all over this enchanting, and well-intentioned book. Most of my women friends here hated it:).I liked it very much. Sarah Maitland sets out to research "silence." She is doing so for personal reasons, but it seems as though she is hemmed in within [...]
Wonderful read. It kept me highly interested from start to finish and I kept having to constrain myself to not read the next sentence before the one I was reading was properly understood. I love the kind of books where the writer combines his or her personal outlook and background with a broader perspective (such as sociological, historical etc.). Maitland does it well and adds something way more to the other books on silence through not only talking about her own experiences and trying to help [...]
This book just frustrated me. I really enjoy the subject, so I was looking forward to reading it, and she definitely made some interesting points along the way. However, her book of silence should have been an article of silence, as she belabored almost every point (she even admits doing so in the conclusion, where she also admits that she doesn't want to conclude the book, something I felt throughout). Also, given that the book is so centered on her pursuit of silence, there needs to be some so [...]
The idea for this book is excellent. Our world is becoming noisier and noisier, with less and less time for the contemplation and reflection that silence brings. I greatly enjoyed learning bits and pieces about the theological, historical, and cultural aspects of the concept of silence, and these nuggets are the well written gems of the book. Maitland goes to a remote part of Scotland to spend six weeks in silence, and records her time there. If only I actually liked her and if only she had spen [...]
This is a very unusual book. I was worried in the first few chapters, the writer seems to be privileged and intellectual. I found her attitude and tone objectionable but the subject matter fascinating so I stuck with it. I spend large amounts of my time in silence and because of that I could associate with a little of what the author experienced but she took it to extremes. When I spend more than a couple of days alone I get cabin fever and leave and to be honest I think that is healthy. What I [...]
My name is Sara Maitland. I went to boarding school. Then I went to Oxford. I went to Oxford with Bill Clinton. And then one day, Bill (The President of The United States) Clinton said to me, "will you go to some pretentious shite with me?", and I totes said yes, and we were like BFFs 4EVA. And then I was totally into feminism and socialism and cool intellectual stuff. And now I'm a published author, living by myself far from the city lights. And I don't need to work, cos I'm totally upper class [...]
There's a lot of good stuff in here. I especially appreciated the range of sources she uses to trace the contours of silence. The chapters on the physical effects of silence and the desert fathers are both strong. The one on God and silence, including a catalogue of other creation narratives is worthwhile. She give the reader much to think about, and contemplate. Although it will undoubtedly not appeal to everyone. Silence is much richer because of this.
Much like her short essay-like book, How to Be Alone, I liked best the parts where Maitland talks about her own life and experiences with/experience of silence. The historical anecdotes and research into others' experiences were interesting enough (some more than others, for me), but not as compelling as Maitland's personal accounts.
A honest woman wrote this book - honest, thoughtful, and not at all sentimental. She identifies a hunger for silence - and I am inspired by her story to seek silence and to structure it into my life. I had never quite noticed how noisy both my interior and exterior life was until these pages opened new vistas.
Good bibliography, and I found myself skimming to the next quoted excerpt, these being almost always excellent.But for a book about silence, her own writing was unpleasantly chatty and lacking in depth.
I think that silence is one of those very narrow topics that you either have a keen interest in, or you don't think about it at all. I had certainly never seriously considered silence, in either an abstract or a concrete sense, until moving to DC. Knowing what I knew about the noise level of major cities, I assumed I would be entering the noisiest period of my life; paradoxically, I instead entered the most silent time to date, mostly because I was effectively living alone for the first time in [...]
“Virginia Woolf famously taught us that every woman needs a room of her own. She didn’t know the half of it, in my opinion. I need a moor of my own. Or, as an exasperated but obviously sensitive friend commented when she came to see my latest lunacy, ‘Only you, Sara – twenty-mile views of nothing.’”p. 1As I said earlier this year, I consider Maitland to be a role model. I have enjoyed her fiction and been very challenged by her theology. Although it took me months to get through this [...]
*EDIT: Two years later, I think about this book quite a lot - about that hermitic lifestyle she was craving, about the history of mystic/spiritual seeking of silence - and so I'm changing my 2 star rating to 3 stars. I did like it - and there are times when I think in this loud and noisy city, a bit of silence would be so restful! So, although it was a tough old slog at the time and it took me far too long to get through it, I've got warm thoughts about it and remember it kindly; maybe that's mi [...]
This book was all but overwhelming for me. There were some slow parts (which probably just meant I didn't understand where she was going) but on page after page I had moment after moment of startling insights. This is a spiritual book. It's about touching and allowing yourself to be touched by God. Maitland's is a Christian orientation but she incorporates many other spiritual outlooks. One of her biggest dilemmas was how to go into her personal silence, meet God, dwell with him to the best of h [...]
This book is so good. I didn't think I would like it at first because the style was so - chatty - non-silent - especially in comparison with another book, Holdfast: At Home in the Natural World, that I had just finished. The writing in Holdfast was more spacious - allowed more space for reflection - while A Book of Silence started out full of information about the author's upbringing and how she came to explore how silence and solitude might fit in her life. But as the book progressed, I came to [...]
Began reading this a year ago. a very thought provoking read although I didn't agree with everything she said. and you know what? I found her rather selfish at points e.g. when her mother dies and boo hoo she doesn't get to have her silence because her family are around her - that didn't sit well with me nor did her limited and very one track view of psychotherapy - there's a lot more to psychotherapy than just Freud, and another thing while I'm on it, I find her two takes on silence (spiritual [...]
If you need convincing that a retreat or long period of silence would be good for you, try this book. She was convincing the already converted in my case, but in this relentlessly noisy civilization, she cogently argues the case for silence as a critical approach for self discovery. Her insights into the different types of silence, into the history of attempts to find silence are woven in with her personal odyssey: 40 days in the wilderness on the isle of Skye in Scotland, time in the Sinai dese [...]
I'm about 75% of the way through the book and I'm just not feeling it. Perhaps I don't have enough of a desire for silence yet, but I'm having trouble extracting much that would be meaningful or personally applicable to me here. Silence, solitude, mindfulness - which seem fairly distinct in my mind, though all have their benefits and advantages - all seem to intertwine in Ms. Maitland's definitions. While I appreciate her Christian perspective and her experiences are interesting - I'd relish six [...]
From Nytimes book review Sept 13 2009Surprisingly, Maitland’s journey provokes a crisis in her work. A successful novelist, she had long depended on her ability to imagine alternate worlds. But the deeper she went into silence, the more her fiction eluded her. “This gave me the idea,” she explains, “that there might be something profoundly different between the silence of the hermits and the silence of creative artists.” The first kind of silence requires an emptying out of the self in [...]
This was inspiring. The author doesn't just theorize about silence, she experiments with it in a variety of settings--mountain, desert, seaside--beginning with 40 days on an island off the coast of Scotland. She describes her psychological responses to silence and reviews the literature. Is silence the absence of language or the absence of sound? Interestingly, the OED lists the absence of language as the first meaning. Thus, if you are reading, you are not fully silent. In full silence differen [...]
I read this two years ago back in Amsterdam, but have just picked it up again. I love Maitland's capacity / willingness to 'wander' across sacred and secular boundaries, evaluating silence as at one and the same time a human and a spiritual reality. Her personal investment in the topic is extreme - short of building a hut on the moon she could hardly have embodied her search for silence more fully - but the results are illuminating for all of us. A very valuable read for anyone exploring contemp [...]
Maitland has discovered that she has fallen in love with silence. She reorders her life so that silence will play as a big a part in it as possible. She moves to a remote part of Britain and rigorously researches and thinks about silence revealing quite a bit about its nature. I wish she would admit that much of her passion about silence is that she is fed up with people. I skipped some pages on fairy stories/creation myths. This is a very different kind of book by a puzzling and eccentric woman [...]
"Ik had geen antwoorden, maar ik voelde een diepe rusteloosheid die gepaard ging met een literaire nieuwsgierigheid. Ik wilde zowel een stilte-mens als een schrijver zijn. Ik wilde schrijven in stilte, op de een of andere manier stilte schrijven. Ik wist niet hoe; ik wist zelfs niet of het mogelijk was. Maar ik wilde het heel graag proberen uit te zoeken." (p.281)
I REALLY enjoyed this book. A thoughtful, introspective study on the nature of silence and what it means to seek silence in a noisy world. It made me realize how little silence I have in my life, and how much better I'd feel if I could make space for more quiet (SILENT) time. Now I just have to figure out how to do that
I love silence, but I'm also of very limited means so I live in an apartment with paper thin walls next to a busy highway AND a railroad. Maitland is from the upper class and can afford to buy a new house every couple of years and go on exotic vacations anywhere she pleases, and sure enjoys telling you about it. Annoying, banal, repetitive, self-indulgent, pseudo-mystical goop.
Ze beschrijft haar eigen ervaringen en mengt die perfect met wat ze leest over andere stiltezoekers van alle tijden: woestijnvaders, heiligen, solozeilers. Ze schrijft ontzettend boeiend. Ik heb het hele boek geïnteresseerd zitten lezen; nergens wordt het saailalageleest.wordpress/201