Author:Evelyn Underhill
Published by:John M. Watkins (1922)
Type:text.monograph
Subjects:Mysticism ⇒ History ⇒ Middle Ages, 600-1500
Cost: ($0.00)
Traits:supports-date
Milestones:biblio, page
Open in:, , , ,

The Cloud of Unknowing is a fourteenth-century work of Christian mysticism written by an anonymous author. It is a spiritual guide to contemplative prayer—the art of surrendering ego, mind, and expectations so that God may pierce the barrier, or cloud, that separates him from us.

Since this book’s entrance into religious circles more than 500 years ago, the question of authorship has been asked by many, including the Anglo-Catholic writer and mystic, Evelyn Underhill, who penned the introduction to this important version of The Cloud. The writer’s identity may be a mystery, but the value of his writing is plain to all. Underhill praises the unidentified author’s vivid humor, robust common sense, and simple style, which helps readers share in the deeply spiritual experience he has enjoyed. According to Underhill’s introduction, “So actual, and so much a part of his normal existence are his apprehensions of spiritual reality, that he can give them to us in the plain words of daily life: and thus he is one of the most realistic of mystical writers.”

Drawing upon Christian Neoplatonism, this matchless guide encourages readers to seek God truly and glimpse his divine beauty, wisdom, and love—to remove all thought, and work within the realm of the heart. Attempting to describe the indescribable, The Cloud of Unknowing is a key text for understanding contemplative prayer and the practices of Christian mysticism.


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