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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great translation
This is probably the best translation of this book into modern English. It reads well and is still very true to the original. Underhill's earlier translation is even closer to the original, but sounds awkward in modern English, while Johnston's translation is further away from the original.
Published on 3 Feb 2010 by Socrates

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
unfinished
Published 1 month ago by Dolly Daydream


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great translation, 3 Feb 2010
This is probably the best translation of this book into modern English. It reads well and is still very true to the original. Underhill's earlier translation is even closer to the original, but sounds awkward in modern English, while Johnston's translation is further away from the original.
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66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a life-changer, 14 April 2000
By A Customer
The man who wrote this was a genius. He tells you how to avoid introspection and self-pity and how to proceed up the spiritual path.It is a book which should be read slowly and really enjoyed.A true classic.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars medieval English mysticism, 3 Jun 2010
A profound set of works not to be approached lightly but to be savoured over a lifetime. The anonymous author of these works was thought to be a Carthusian monk. The most famous of the three works featured is 'The Cloud of Unknowing' -a work that is often cited in books about Christian mysticism. The ideas and concepts have relevance to every age but this is not an easy book to read nor to understand in one sitting (nor possibly a lifetime!). I have found that the meaning within 'the Cloud of Unknowing' becomes clearer when it is referred to in other books in a different context. However, if you wish to pursue the idea of an abstract transcendent God that cannot be understood then you need to gnaw on this book then leave it, contemplate the meaning over much time and yet empty yourself of all pre-conceived ideas of God. The contradictions are like Zen koans or Christian parables. All is paradox. One cannot as a human know the divine but if one works at practical contemplation then maybe, just maybe there will be a glimpse of what underlies our existence.

The language is that of medieval Christianity and can at times be unpalatable to the modern mind but it is worth suspending judgement and focusing in on the symbolism and transferring this symbolism to the modern day world.

A classic that every person seeking the meaning of life ought to read just to know what other writers are referring to when they speak of the 'cloud of unknowing'.

Fascinating, frustrating and fertile.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book, 6 Nov 2013
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While I think this is an indispensable companion book, I strongly suggest you also download the freely available copy written in old English. Although it is not as easy to read, in some ways the old-english version transmits the concepts, which are truly not easy to transmit in words, better than the modern English version. Because the concepts in the cloude of unknowing are really so alien to modern life and properly a new language should be invented to discuss them, the use of old english in some way achieves this by using slightly unfamiliar versions of words that if written in the common language lose meaning simply because of how we are used to treating the word and the automatic sensations it brings up in us.
My practice is to read the old english first and then if a word stumps me use this book to "translate" it for myself.
I need to add that I have no religion whatsoever, however the concepts described by the 14th century anonymous mystic who wrote it are truly universal and I wonder if he didn't keep his name out of it to avoid being burned at the stake!

One last point, I don't know if others will relate to this, but this book might have been utterly incomprehensible to me had it not been for an event that completely re-wired my outlook on life. I had a sudden experience that flung me into what i can only describe an alternate reality based in love, and in it, all the common rules of the material world no longer apply, in fact, many of the normal ways we go about our lives could even be seen as wrong and liable to only bring misery to our lives instead of love and joy. This book, so far, is the only thing I have found that actually describes this alternate reality well. It has been helpful to me to understand when my faith has been weak. I say faith, but please not I have no religion, yet there is a love, a indeed...Cloude of Unknowyinge as it were, and to be in it in faith is the only way to really have that sense that you are fulfilling your purpose here on Earth by just being yourself, your true self. It is difficult to describe and will always sound cliched, and never in a million years did I think i would find myself finding guidance, and comfort, even joy and laughter in a book written more than 500 years ago by a mystic who had also discovered this alternate reality, and captured its essence in the form of a guidebook so beautifully.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do not read!, 7 Oct 2011
By 
Chris Morse "faraway_pictures" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This is a most intresting book. It's definatley not for everyone and even starts off with a warning from the unknown 1370's writer to not read, speak of or quote the book to anyone who is not ready to follow through with what this book is offering.
With that in mind, I will just explain the title.
There are 2 ways to think of God:
1- Positive. God is Good, Great, Wonderful etc. All based on characteristics we are familiar with because we see them as human attributes as well.
2- Negative. God is not Good, Great, Wonderful etc, because these are all human words and attributes and can never describe God the unmade Spirit. So when we come to face God our mind cannot comprehend Him and instead comes to a blank, or, Cloud of Unknowing.

This book will shed light on what could be misunderstood by anyone who is not already in a place of seeking Him and not what He can offer.

This version is translated by Colin Wolfer and has some great notes before each book.
Recommended, but bear in mind the Authors warning. if you are not ready you will be wasting your time completley.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware -language can be a barrier between the Soul and God, but there is no alternative, 22 Jun 2013
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This is a Christian spiritual classic, written in the fourteenth century, which sets out to capture in language the nature of God and the longed-for relationship of the contemplative soul with God. The author is unknown but thought to be a priest who was probably also a monk. He argues that essentially God is unknowable and indescribable and that therefore all words are inadequate and sometimes quite misleading, as in when He (for want of a better pronoun) is described as 'out there' or 'up there' or 'within'. This sort of language is not to be understood in a bodily or physically spatial sense but spiritually. We have to use words because we inhabit the physical world and have only those terms to describe what is essentially of the spirit and not describable in words at all. However, if we don't use words we have only silence which doesn't enable us to share wisdom and experience. Fortunately, the book is written in short chapters which enables the reader to digest and absorb (to use more physical terms) what is being put forward.
I have found the book really helpful at this particular stage of my own journey. It helps me to make sense of some of my own experiences because it deals with questions I have had and which had not been addressed to my satisfaction before. As there is a lot within the writing to take in it is the sort of guide to come back to from time to time, and specific chapters might be of particular help in particular life situations.
I would recommend this to anyone seeking, through setting aside a time of quiet, a closer relationship with God.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cloud of Unknowing, 9 Oct 2011
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This modern version of "The Cloud of Unknowing" has made the work more intelligible to todays readers by replacing the archaic language of older versions whilst retaining the original sense. This has always been a challenging book to read and understand but I feel that this version has gone a long way towards providing the practical guidance that the original author intended for his readers. It is not an easy book, as instructional treatises go, but at least with this edition you are not confused by the mysteries of language.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the cloud of unknowing, 30 May 2011
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known this book for years,don't need to be a Christian, it is full of honest wisdom a classic of true spirituality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful spritual writing, 10 April 2014
By 
Mr E.L. Newsome (Clogheen, County Tipperary Ireland) - See all my reviews
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Very challenging to read but sublime writing. Not for those who are out for an easy way into Christian spirituality but for a more seasoned spiritual travellers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It was hard to get into but very rewarding once I managed it., 7 Sep 2013
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It was hard to get into but very rewarding once I managed it. I find it best reading this particular work at a rate of no more than a chapter a day, allowing time for reflection.
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