30-Year Hermit: Jail Was Worse Than My Solitude

Christopher Knight of Maine talks to 'GQ' about life after his capture
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2014 12:40 PM CDT
Updated Aug 24, 2014 7:00 PM CDT
30-Year Hermit: Jail Was Worse Than My Solitude
This April 2013 file booking photo provided by the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office in Augusta, Maine, shows Christopher Knight.   (AP Photo/Kennebec County Sheriff's Office, File)

The hermit speaks. Christopher Knight, better known as the North Pond Hermit, spent nearly 30 years living in isolation in the woods of central Maine before his arrest on burglary charges last year. He's out of jail now, though living in the community again as part of his court deal, and he has granted his only interview to writer Michael Finkel of GQ. Some excerpts:

  • "I had a backpack and minimal stuff," he said of his decision to bail from society in 1986. "I had no plans. I had no map. I didn't know where I was going. I just walked away."
  • "I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn't even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free."

  • "I suspect more damage has been done to my sanity in jail, in months; than years, decades, in the woods."
  • "I don't like what I see in the society I'm about to enter," he said before his release in November. "I don't think I'm going to fit in. It's too loud. Too colorful. The lack of aesthetics. The crudeness. The inanities. The trivia."
  • Recalling how he listened to the radio at his remote, hidden camp: "Bach is too pristine," he said, but "they will be playing Lynyrd Skynyrd songs in a thousand years."
Click to read the fascinating full piece. (The 48-year-old must appear before a judge once a week or go back to jail, notes CentralMaine.com.)

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