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The Irish Monks of the Middle Ages have been credited with saving Western civilization. But what is known of their day-to-day lives--the spiritual struggles and triumphs or the unbelievable physical hardships they endured? Exploring the origins of Ireland's religious traditions, acclaimed writer Geoffrey Moorhouse travels back 1400 years to re-create like on Skellig Michael, a cruel rock island off Ireland's west coast and home to a community of monks for over six hundred years. This book's imaginative stories not only capture a particularly intense form of monastic life, they illuminate one of the most mysterious yet important chapters of Celtic history. Entertaining and enlightening, this book makes medieval Ireland come alive.
Visible on a clear day off the west coast of Ireland, the Skellig Islands, a cluster of cruel rocks, rise spectacularly from the Atlantic Ocean. A sanctuary to birds and seals today, for over six hundred years during the middle ages it was a center for a particularly intense form of monastic life, one that acclaimed writer Geoffrey Moorhouse explores with utmost fascination, scholarship, and imagination in Sun Dancing. A must read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Celtic spirituality, Moorhouse's lively narrative is a superbly imagined account of the monks' isolated life-the spiritual struggles and triumphs and unbelievable physical hardships. To complement and enrich the book, Moorhouse establishes the historical context of Irish monasticism and describes the monks' influence and undeniable role in preserving western civilization, as well as unexpected connections between medieval Ireland and India, Egypt, and Byzantium, and the surviving impact of pagan mythology. An entertaining and enlightening work, Sun Dancing makes medieval Ireland come alive.
"Geoffrey Moorhouse has taken his fascination with the Skellig Islands and created from it a unique work. . . . Its distinctive combination of documentary fiction and engrossing scholarship will compel many readers."-Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler's List and The Great Shame
"Highly original, gracefully written, and carefully researched . . . Moorhouse can go deep, and his scholarship is impressive."-The Boston Globe
"Moorhouse writes with eloquence and a quiet humor calculated to charm even the blackest of heathens."-The Atlantic Monthly