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By Liz Herbert McAvoy

The writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe exhibit an know-how of conventional and modern attitudes in the direction of girls, specifically medieval attitudes in the direction of the feminine physique. This examine examines the level to which they utilize such attitudes of their writing, and investigates the significance of the feminine physique as a way of explaining their mystical reviews and the perception won from them; in either writers, the feminine physique is significant to their writing, resulting in a feminised language wherein they in attaining authority and create an area within which they are often heard, quite within the context in their spiritual and mystical studies. the 3 archetypal representations of girl within the heart a while, as mom, as whore and as 'wise woman', are all basically found in the writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe; in interpreting the ways that either writers utilize those lady different types, McAvoy establishes the level in their luck in resolving the strain among society's expectancies of them and their very own lived studies as ladies and writers. LIZ HERBERT MCAVOY is Lecturer in Medieval Language and Literature, college of Leicester.

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Extra resources for Authority and the Female Body in the Writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe (Studies in Medieval Mysticism)

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32 Instead, it can be viewed as an early attempt to uncover a hermeneutic in order to transcend the suffering and find a meaning within the pain. Motherhood has effectively separated her from her family, her friends, from her child, from herself and from God, and appropriately it is Christ who recognises her abandonment and chooses a moment in her physical isolation to reveal himself to her. [O]wyr mercyful Lord Crist Ihesu, euyr to be trostyd, worshypd be hys name, neuyr forsakyng hys seruawant in tyme of nede, aperyd to hys creatur whych had forsakyn hym in lyknesse of a man, most semly, most bewtyuows, & most amyable þat euyr myght be seen wyth mannys eye, clad in a mantyl of purpyl sylke, syttyng upon hir beddys syde, lokyng vpon hir wyth so blyssyd a chere þat sche was strengthyd in all hir spyritys.

375–94. , 2002). My interpretation here of the sexual nature of Margery’s guilt is based upon the fact that she juxtaposes descriptions of her attempts to expiate her unconfessed sin and the description of her desire not to have to endure John Kempe’s sexual advances any more (11–12) alongside the account of a potentially adulterous liaison with a male acquaintance (13–16). She appears to be using this incident as a type of confessional in the narrative in order to expiate both this ‘sin’ and her earlier unconfessed one.

Stone, Middle English Prose Style (The Hague and Paris, 1970), pp. 155–6; Coleman, English Mystics, p. 175; Riehle, Middle English Mystics, pp. 27–31, p. 96, pp. 102–3, p. 112, p. 116 for similar sentiments. Salih, Versions of Virginity, p. 173. qxd 4/27/04 5:10 PM Page 26 AUTHORITY AND THE FEMALE BODY actually a distinction between ‘the writing and written selves of autobiography’79 and the line of demarcation is therefore blurred. Another advantage of such an approach is that by placing them alongside each other as equal and virtually unique representatives of a highly rich and varied mystical tradition which was emerging in England, is to maximise on the potential of the female body to render up discourses which can be employed to explicate the unfathomability of the mystical experience.

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