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Julian of Norwich

Julian of Norwich: The Influence of Late-Medieval Devotional Compilations

Elisabeth Dutton
Volume: 6
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Julian of Norwich
    Book Description:

    Compilation and miscellany manuscripts were widely owned in the late middle ages, by both the laity and the clergy. Here, their possible influence on Julian of Norwich's ‘Revelations’ is explored. The book argues that formal features of compilation are evident in the text, deployed by Julian to give authority and didactic force to the theological debate in which she is engaged. Combining study of compilation manuscripts and manuscripts of the ‘Revelations’ with structural analysis, it suggests important new ways of reading the ‘Revelations’, and makes a strong case for compilation as a literary form with creative potential. Dr ELISABETH DUTTON is Senior Research Fellow, Worcester College, University of Oxford.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-650-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. 1-24)

    Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of Love is a landmark in the history of English spiritual writing. It is significant in intellectual terms: one of the first authored works of vernacular theology, it demonstrates the development of the English language as a medium for religious discussion; as a document of its times it bears witness to the vitality of English lay spirituality in the century before the Reformation; as the work of a woman, it draws attention to the active participation of women in late-medieval spiritual culture.

    And the Revelation is also, of course, spiritually influential now. In recent years the...

  6. 1 Ordinatio and Compilatio and the Revelation’s Apparatus
    (pp. 25-51)

    The short text of Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of Love is a brief, vivid description of the visionary experience of a woman on the point of death. It begins with an account of the circumstances in which revelation is received, relates the bulk of the visionary material, describes Julian coming round to have her visions affirmed then falling asleep and being visited by devils, and concludes with her waking vision of Christ in her soul. within this simple narrative there is an awareness of separate revelations constituting the visionary material, and an organization of the content of separate revelations: for...

  7. 2 Voices in the Revelation and the Gestures of Compilation
    (pp. 52-85)

    Although the Revelation does not display a wealth of citation from attributed sources, yet it does imitate some of the gestures by which the compiler may be identified and the voices of his sources discerned. Julian’s text will here be considered alongside three compilation texts which, like the Revelation, may be dated to the cusp of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries: the Speculum Christiani, which draws together material from the Bible, the fathers, and other auctoritates in Latin and English, with various popular sayings and verses, to form eight tabulae; The Chastising of God’s Children, which draws on both early-...

  8. 3 Dialogue in Compilation
    (pp. 86-122)

    It has been shown that some late-fourteenth- and early-fifteenth-century compilation texts are inconsistent in their naming of sources, while the Revelation lacks named sources almost entirely. A named source ties a voice to a particular speaker – where the Speculum, The Chastising and Contemplations do attribute sources, the apparent textual structure is that of a range of authoritative figures, whose words are collected by a consistent compiler figure: the compiler’s voice is apparently discernible between the words of his authorities, lexically marked by particular phrases. In fact, as has been shown, the presence of unattributed citations alongside attributed ones, and the...

  9. 4 Circles of Compilation
    (pp. 123-160)

    In Lyf of Soule, dialogue is exploited to arrange the material from diverse sources which compilation draws together, and the previous chapter has suggested parallels for this within the Revelation. There are, however, a number of voices resonating in the Revelation which are not controlled within the text’s dialogue, whether Julian’s interior dialogue or her dialogue with Christ. These voices provide some of the most suggestive evidence of actual processes of compilation in the Revelation, as well as the imitatory processes or gestures towards compilation in Julian’s style. To examine the place of these voices within the structure of the...

    (pp. 161-172)

    Bonaventure’s scheme of authorship is the best known of the models which were first created to explain the relative roles of God and man in the creation of scripture. Divine authority for a text necessitated a corresponding diminution of the role of the human writer of that text, who might be seen more as a scribe recording the words of his auctor.² It has long been recognized that for the medieval female writer, the validity of whose activity might be open to question, the claim of divine authority may prove vital – Margery Kempe, for example, emphasizes the processes by which...

    (pp. 173-184)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 185-190)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 191-191)