The Wisdom of Donkeys

Finding Tranquility in a Chaotic World

by Andy Merrifield

  • Published: 05 Mar 2009
  • Price: £7.99
  • Format: paperback
  • Extent: 256p
  • ISBN: 978-1-906021-37-5
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“Back then, everyday was a Saturday afternoon, open for business, rubbing shoulders with the world, with a world that was intent on spending, spending, spending; now, with a donkey, it’s always Sunday, a slouching Sunday afternoon in which every second counts. Yet there’s nothing to buy or anything to sell, only a donkey a little after dawn…”

When Andy Merrifield made his first trip to America aged ten, he vowed that one day he would leave his native Liverpool and live in New York. He eventually got there, but the dream quickly turned sour. In 2003, weary of city life, he left for Southern France and embarked upon a journey of the soul, to walk amid the ruins and spectacular vistas of the Auvergne.

This book is the story of that slow pilgrimage, on which his only companion is a donkey, Gribouille (Scribble), a tender and intelligent beast with soft, thick fur on his brow and calm, dark eyes. Following in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson, and his donkey Modestine, some 130 years after they originally trekked through the same region, Merrifield begins to confront himself, as well as the larger mysteries of existence. He marvels at his tranquil surroundings, the universality of nature, and revels in the oddities of French rural life, all the while musing on the virtues of his humble companion, and indeed donkeys throughout history.

The Wisdom of Donkeys reminds us that observing, being mindful, and being present in the moment are essential to a fulfilled life. It teaches us that enlightenment is all around us if we only take the time to seek it.

“An amazing book… Erudite, acutely observed and spontaneous. My guess is that it will become what they call a classic.” – John Berger

“A fond meditation on the calming virtues of donkeyhood and daydreaming… a wistful travelogue.” – The Sunday Times

This is Zen and the Art of Donkey Walking. I cannot imagine a more charming, informative or restful book.” – Jim Crace

About Andy Merrifield

Born in Liverpool, England in 1960, Andy Merrifield taught geography for over a decade in assorted British and American universities. He’s author of four previous books, including biographies on two twentieth-century French philosophers. He now lives and writes in a small rural community in France’s Auvergne region.