8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: A Book of Silence (Paperback)
I must confess (if there is any 'confessing' about it) that I have always been a rather silent person myself. Silent in two ways: I both enjoy being in a silent environment (going walking and camping by myself, the lonelier and more desolate the more I like it), and in groups tend to be 'a silent type' as well. But even then, I had never before given this much thought. To me, it was just another aspect of my personality and interests (just as I like bird-watching, or reading, or mountains), and I had no idea there was so much to say about silence and its effects.
But obviously there is a lot to say about silence (and, when you think of it, why shouldn't there be?). Sara Maitland has done a fine job here both in extensively researching what other people have said and written about silence, but also sets out to experience silence in all its shapes and forms herself (like Thoreau, to whom she frequently refers, settling on Walden pond). I couldn't help thinking that - if circumstances were different and, to name but one, I wouldn't be married and father to three (adorable) small children - I could very well have ended up settling on some desolate moor myself.
So perhaps it comes as no surprise that I enjoyed this book. At the very least I was always intrigued and curious, at times envious of some of the experiences she had. Inevitably, much of what she writes is personal and subjective (how could it be other?). One of the major reasons why Maitland actively sought (and seeks, I presume) silence is to pray, and if you're not a praying person yourself (such as I), it is sometimes difficult to 'understand' her when she writes about this, or to appreciate the importance she obviously attaches to it. Likewise, on occasion I doubted the validity of some of the statements she makes (for instance when she argues that 'the antisocial, even violent, behaviour in younger people in the West at present must be related to a lack of silence and a lack of training in how to use silence.').
Be that as it may, this is nevertheless still a very thought-provoking book and one that, judging by the other reviewers' comments, comes at the right time and answers a very real need with many people.