The Seven Storey Mountain

The Seven Storey Mountain is the 1948 autobiography of Thomas Merton, an American Trappist monk and priest who was a noted author in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Merton finished the book in 1946 at the age of 31, five years after entering Gethsemani Abbey near Bardstown, Kentucky. The title refers to the mountain of purgatory from Dante’s Purgatorio.
The Seven Storey Mountain was published in 1948 and was unexpectedly successful. The first printing was planned for 7,500 copies, but pre-publication sales exceeded 20,000. By May 1949, 100,000 copies were in print and, according to Time magazine, it was among the best-selling non-fiction books in the country for the year 1949. The original hardcover edition eventually sold over 600,000 copies, and paperback sales exceed three million by 1984. A British edition, edited by Evelyn Waugh, was titled Elected Silence. The book has remained continuously in print, and has been translated into more than 15 languages. The 50th-anniversary edition, published in 1998 by Harvest Books, included an introduction by Merton’s editor, Robert Giroux, and a note by biographer and Thomas Merton Society founder William Shannon.
Apart from being on the National Review’s list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century, it was also mentioned in 100 Christian Books That Changed the Century (2000) by William J. Petersen.