This essay explores the relationship of solitude to place in Jerome’s fourth-century Life of Saint Hilarion. It does so through the medium of Burrus’s own experience of solitude and place. In 2020, having planned to visit Hilarion’s mountaintop hermitage in Cyprus, she found herself instead weathering the pandemic at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Thus she came to know Hilarion’s Cyprus by developing a relationship with the northern Berkshires; she came to know Hilarion’s solitude by experiencing her own. The essay reperforms this interspatial dynamic, reading Jerome through the mediation of four objects of art that Burrus encountered on the Clark campus in 2020–21. Three are contemporary sculptures—Kelly Akashi’s A Device to See the World Twice (2020), Thomas Schütte’s Crystal (2015), and Giuseppe Penone’s Le foglie delle radici (The Leaves of Roots) (2011)—and one is a seventeenth-century map. Burrus suggests that solitude allows us to know place (and ourselves as part of it) more deeply and intimately, offers a vantage point for seeing further and more clearly, undoes our sense of distinctiveness as humans, and transforms the intervals and flows of our movements in space.

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