Cover image for Radiance : a spiritual memoir of Evelyn Underhill
Radiance : a spiritual memoir of Evelyn Underhill
Underhill, Evelyn, 1875-1941.
Publication Information:
Brewster, Mass. : Paraclete Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xii, 236 pages ; 21 cm
Early writings, 1892-1914 -- Applied spirituality, 1915-1924 -- Understanding mysticism, 1925-1931 -- Mature insight, 1932-1941.
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
BV4501.3 .U53 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Drawing from both her published writings and her private journals, this compilation presents a candid look at the extraordinary spiritual journey of Evelyn Underhill. We glimpse a picture of her essentially secular childhood, her early spiritual awareness, her innate sense of deep compassion for others, and the curiosity that drove her classic work, Mysticism . We see the expression of her spiritual life move from the academic tone of Mysticism to a deeper, warmer hue in her later writings and retreats. Possibly most eye-opening, we witness Underhill's profound spiritual struggle of 1923-24, unsuspected by her friends and family. For the many readers who have been moved by the writings of Evelyn Underhill, and for those who are merely intrigued by mysticism or captivated by a good memoir, this book presents a vivid and deeply personal rendering of a life that was, both intellectually and spiritually, radiant.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) is perhaps best known for her 1911 classic, Mysticism, continuously in print to the present day. An English laywoman with no theological education, she wrote more than 30 spirituality books, lectured to Oxford scholars and Church of England clergy, led spiritual retreats and encouraged ecumenism decades before women began to assume religious leadership. Bangley has selected excerpts from her published writings, journals, letters and speeches to show Underhill's personal spiritual development as she moved from cool academic reflection through struggle and doubt to settled trust: "I do feel that trusting God must mean trusting Him through thick and thin." One reason for Underhill's popularity may have been her view that mysticism was for everybody, in all circumstances: "The true mystic quest may as well be fulfilled in the market as in the cloister, by Joan of Arc on the battlefield as by Simeon Stylites on his pillar." Hers was no self-absorbed, feel-good spirituality, however: "Any spiritual view which focuses attention on ourselves, and puts the human creature with its small ideas and adventures in the center foreground, is dangerous till we recognize its absurdity." Her God was transcendent: "a Reality independent of the worshipper, which is always more or less deeply colored by mystery, and which is there first." Despite its subtitle, this book is not really a memoir; Underhill wrote in the first person only in her journals and, in any case, distrusted subjective experience. It is nevertheless a captivating introduction to one of the 20th century's most appealing spiritual writers. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Underhill (1875-1941) is generally acknowledged as one of the great authorities on mysticism; her 1907 book Mysticism is still a widely used classic in the field. Retired Presbyterian minister Bangley has assembled an anthology of Underhill's writings that form an oblique spiritual biography of this extremely reticent Englishwoman; it is as much the story of a soul as anything in English. Mysticism, in Underhill's life as well as in her fine writings, was at once normal, complex, and demanding: "No love without pain." Slight alterations in Underhill's own syntax and diction, made for readability, prevent the volume from making a scholarly as well as popular contribution, but many readers should still be pleased with this primer. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. vii
1 Early writings 1892-1914
Personal Diaryp. 3
The Gray Worldp. 5
Mysticismp. 10
Correspondence and Poetryp. 43
The Mystic Wayp. 44
2 Applied spirituality 1915-1924
Practical Mysticismp. 65
Poetryp. 68
Addresses and Articlesp. 71
Personal Journal and Correspondencep. 73
Essaysp. 86
3 Understanding mysticism 1925-1931
Mystics of the Churchp. 131
Personal Journalp. 132
Concerning the Inner Lifep. 134
Correspondencep. 149
Journalp. 153
Essayp. 156
4 Mature insight 1932-1941
Personal Journal and Correspondencep. 167
The Spiritual Lifep. 169
Personal Notep. 184
Worshipp. 185
Final Retreatp. 195
Correspondencep. 202
Abbap. 204
Last Lettersp. 212
Essayp. 214
Appendix A longer excerpt from The Gray Worldp. 217
Endnotesp. 231
Sourcesp. 235