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Angela da Foligno's Memoriale: the male scribe, the female voice, and the other.

Angela da Foligno was born either in 1248 or 1249 and died in 1309. Capable of reading but unable to write (Thier-Calufetti, "Introduzione" 26-27), most likely between 1292 and 1296 she dictated her spiritual experiences to a Franciscan, who, as Pozzi writes, "si nasconde dietro la sigla di A. ["fratre A."], sciolta tradizionalmente in Amaldo senza alcuna prova documentaria" (Angela, Il libro, "Introduzione" 15). (1) Although no doubt can be raised about the identity of Angela da Foligno, the name of Angela never appears in the text: she is always referrred to as "fidelis Christi" and in the Testificatio as "cuiusdam famulae Christi" (126, line 2).

While the fidelis Christi related her experiences in the vernacular of her native Umbria, the Franciscan scribe--according to his written statement in Il libro--wrote at her presence and translated her words into Latin: a Latin as distant from Cicero's language as it is from the contemporary Florentine vernacular of Dante's Vita nuova. Fra Arnaldo's socalled first redazione of Angela's mystical experiences was then presented to the ecclesiastical authorities and to a group of Franciscan theologians for their approval. This official approval or testificatio, marks the beginning of what is currently called the second redazione. (2)

The original transcription of Angela's experiences is lost, and the reconstruction of the critical text has been most difficult. The tradition of Angela's writings has been divided into no fewer than eight families with twenty-nine manuscripts (Thier and Calufetti, "Introduzione" 51-73). The oldest manuscript, which is in Assisi, is a copy of an exemplar of another exemplar, being thus three times removed from the original text, according to Thier and Calufetti; for Pozzi, instead, the Assisian codex "non rappresenta per nulla 'un terzo testo', come vogliono gli editori [Thier and Calufetti], bensi trasmette la redazione piu prossima all'archetipo" (Angela, Il libro, "Nota al testo" 245). (3) The title assumes no fewer than six different appellations in the tradition of the manuscripts and in printed editions, and to call it Memoriale is only a conjecture. (4) In fact, one might even submit that the book has no title, and thus ask with Pozzi:</p> <pre> Perche questo 'senza titolo'? E il libro per antonomasia, audacemente eretto a paragone col solo che possa presentarsi tale? O lo e per omologazione a un contenuto che si autopropone come un nichil incognitum [unnulla nascosto]? Il fascino dell'imprendibile e indefinibile turba o allieta fin dai prodromi questo percorso di lettura. (Angela, Il libro, "Introduzione" 15) </pre> <p>Thus, in the case of Angela da Foligno's Memoriale, the mystic to whom the writing is attributed finds herself at some remove from her own life account, since she was not involved directly in the physical act of writing. Furthermore, the issue of authorship becomes further complicated because of the peculiar nature of mystical experiences described first through the spoken word and second through the written word by means of a scribe.

An element characteristic of every mystical experience is the mystic's "radical passivity": God is always the principal agent, while the creature assumes a secondary role. (5) In brief, confronted with experiences inherently ineffable because they are by nature utterly transcendent, the mystics find themselves in the particular situation of seeking to describe them through the human word, which, although it is founded on knowledge, is nevertheless unable to fulfill its task. (6) Consequently, as Pozzi writes, the readers are therefore urged to reflect "su come il dicibile, che 6 un sapere, si colleghi con un fare ineffabile" ("Patire e non potere" 2). Further complicating the issue of communication, Angela's mystical experiences can be known to us only through written records, whose scribes differ from their author. What concerns me here centers on the ways in which Angela da Foligno's experiences, communicated orally to her scribes, are recorded through writing and have thus reached us. (7) Thus what scholars of mysticism view as a hindrance in their analysis of medieval mystical experiences--namely, the impossibility of having any direct access to those experiences except through texts--provides the literary critic with a written text worth analyzing. (8)

Just as many medieval and Renaissance mystical texts, the Memoriale, as Karma Lochrie suggests, lies "outside medieval taxonomies of authorship and textual production" (60). (9) In fact, that the Memoriale was not physically penned by Angela emphasizes a frequent characteristic of authorship throughout classical antiquity and also the Middle Ages: the physical act of writing was often seen as a skill separate from the act of composing, which was associated with reading and thus with orality (Clanchey 41; 90; 97; 219; Lochrie 102-04; Carruthers 194-96; Fleischman; Murphy; Ong). At the same time, however, Angela da Foligno cannot be viewed as a typical dictator. In fact, just as she was not free to speak or not to speak, the scribe, as we shall see, finds himself in a condition utterly subservient to the mystic.

In reading Angela da Foligno's Memoriale, one is struck, not only by the voice of the mystic and by the voice of the scribe, but also by the Testificatio, which marks the presence of the official Church. The scribe not only begins and ends the narration in the first person, as if he were the principal narrator, but countless times he thus introduces himself: "ego indignus scriptor" (Memoriale, "Prologus" 130); "Ego frater scriptor" (Memoriale, ch. 1, 134; ch. 2, 159); "ego frater, qui indignus scripsi" (Memoriale, ch. 1, 156); etc. (10)

And yet, much more important than the undeniable presence of fratre A. is the function that such a presence carries out in the text. The scribe describes his function as secondary and subservient to that of Angela, even though it is he that forces Angela to speak shortly after her scandalous and vociferous ecstasy at the entrance of St. Francis Basilica in Assisi: (11)</p> <pre> ... post parvum tempus postquam ego illam coegeram ad dicendum ... (... in poco tempo da poi che quelo a dire l'ebi constreta ...) (ch. 2, 166, ll. 86-38) (12) Et consului et coegi eam quod totum diceret mihi et quod ego volebam illud scribere omnino, ut possem consulere super illo aliquem

sapientem et spiritualem virum qui nunquam earn cognosceret. (E pregaila che tutto me dizese, ch'io al tuto lo voleva scriver e

averne conscio da alcuno savio et spiritual omo lo qual mai lei non congnosese.) (ch. 2, 170, ll. 123-25) </pre> <p>Thus the circle of interactions documented throughout the text expands considerably. The Franciscan wants Angela to narrate to him her experiences, seeing his own role as that of a scribe and a witness, but nowhere does he assume the role of ultimate judge and guarantor. By the same token, the sapientes et spirituales viri--namely, the Church representatives--to whom the Franciscan presents the Memoriale, do not carry out the function of ultimate guarantors, since they too ultimately refer to the Other. (13) It is the Other who addresses Angela and to whom she bears witness. (14) As Angela is passive in her mystical experiences, and thus unable to resist the divinity entering her life, so is the scribe forced to write the experiences she relates to her because of the Other's presence in his own life:</p> <pre> Et ideo, antequam ulterius procedatur, credidi me debere referre Quomodo ego ad istorum notitiam deveni, et qua de causa ista scribere sum coactus omnino, Deo compellente me ex parte sua. (Et imperzio, ananzi ch'io piu prozeda, credetti che dovese dire como de queste cosse io vini a cognosimento, e per che caxione sono constreto de scriver al postuto, constringendomi Dio da la sua parte.) (ch. 2, 168, ll. 91-93) (15) </pre> <p>Not only is he forced to write; he writes only what he hears from the mouth of the "fidelis Christi" and only at her presence:</p> <pre> Iste passus qui hic scribitur vicesimus est prima scriptura quam ego frater, qui indignus scripsi, habui et audivi ab ore ipsius fidelis

Christi referentis. (Questo passo vigieximo che qui se scrive e la prima scrittura che io frate scrittore ebi et udi' da la dita fedel de Cristo.) (Memoriale, ch. 1, 156, ll. 304-05) </pre> <p>In closing the Memoriale, furthermore, the scribe's primary concern is not only to make sure, through Angela, of God's approval of his writing, but also to present once again to the readers the manner in which he himself fulfilled his role as a scribe.

He writes: I, "frater scriptor," have written "cum magno timore et reverentia"; I have also written "cum magna festinatione" as the "fidelis Christi" was speaking to me, as far as I was able to understand, adding nothing of my own from the beginning until the end, and leaving out "multa ... de illis bonis quae dicebat" since I could not grasp them with my mind and could not write them down. She has spoken in the first person, but at times I have written in the third person "propter festinationem" and because of the difficulties caused by my religious brothers. What I wrote I always read back to her several times so as to use only her words (ch. 9, 400, ll. 511-27). (16)

The function of the frater scriptor, who listens to Angela and writes only what he hears, therefore, may only in part be explained through the fourfold medieval categories of making a book, as Bonaventure explains in his commentary on Peter Lombard's Sentences. (17) Accordingly Angela's scribe may be called scriptor insofar as he "writes the words of others, adding or changing nothing"; (18) he may also be called compilator insofar as he "writes the words of others, adding, although not of his own." His function in the Memoriale may also fall within the medieval category of commentator, to which that of asker or questioner may be added.

Although a scribe subordinate to Angela, he becomes directly involved in Angela's experience, which touches him in an extraordinary manner: he is either unable to write with any order or unable to write at all when he is "inordinatus conscientia":</p> <pre> Unde et quando inordinatus conscientia ivi aliquando ad scribendum, ita sibi et mihi totum detruncabatur quod nihil potui scribere ordinatum; quare, ut poteram, studebam ordinatus conscientia ire ad loquendum et ad scribendum. Et studui aliquando confessionem praemittere peccatorum meorum, recognoscens a divina gratia esse quod, de quacumque re Deus mihi inquirere inspirabat, ordinate terminabatur, divina gratia supra quam sperare poteram mirabiliter faciente. (Onde io, quando alcuna volta dexordinatamente ne la consienzia andai a scrivere, cusi a lei e a me si detroncava tuto che non podeva alguna cosa scrivere ordinato; e pero, como poteva, me sforzava de andare ordinato ne la consientia, quando andava a scrivere e a parlare; e alcuna fiata studiavame de far inanzi la confessione di mie pecati.) (ch. 2, 172-74, ll. 161-67) </pre> <p>Whether he asks in order to understand, or he comments in order to explain to others, (19) the scriptor bears witness to Angela and ultimately to the Other who addresses Angela:</p>

<pre> Item quod revelatum fuit ei quod Deo placebat; et erat praesens in Istis quae scribebamus. Item quod omnia quae scripseramus erant sine Mendacio scripta. (Et ancora che li fo revelado che a Dio piazeva ed era presente in queste cose che scrivevamo. E ancora che queste cose che scriviamo, erano scripte senza menzonar [menzogna].) (ch. 2, 162, ll. 34-35) </pre> <p>Because of his close association with Angela's mystical experiences, he too shares in her vocation to suffering. His suffering is due to the opposition of his religious brothers and superiors, to his inability to write down in a hurry what he hears, and to his own limitations as a scriptor (ch. 2, 174 ll. 168-73; ch. 4, 216, ll. 197-99). (20)

A partaker of her sufferings, he comes close to sharing some of her experiences: he weeps with her while listening to her confession, believes that a person of "tantae rectitudinis et veritatis" could not be deceived (ch. 7, 306, ll. 208-15), and also hears the words that God speaks to her ("audivi a Deo sibi dici ita," ch. 9, 372, ll. 200-07).

Most importantly, the frater scriptor's multiple functions in the Memoriale emphasize the presence of Angela: throughout the Memoriale, the scribe's voice is heard not independently from, but at the service of, Angela's. In fact, although he is Angela's confessor and orders her to relate to him her experiences, the Memoriale evidences a gradual reversal of this confessor-penitent, teacher-pupil relationship. At times, in fact, he points out that both Angela and he are writing; (21) more often, he describes his role as that of a listener and confider of the divine revelations imparted to his penitent; he once becomes aware that Angela receives revelations about questions he has not yet addressed to her (ch. 6, 286, ll. 341-45); he time and again becomes Angela's disciple; (22) finally, characterizing his role as a scribe at the service of Angela, he elides his name from the text and makes himself known to the reader as fratre A. Thus, in a complete reversal of roles, Angela speaks to him as a teacher and mother who puts spiritual food into the mouth of her pupil-son:</p> <pre> Et hoc ideo dico tibi in isto modo, possim te aliqualiter imboccare vel aliqualiter immittere in os tuum.... (E questo inperzo te dico in questo modo, ch'io te possa in alcuna maniera inbocare....) (ch. 9, 388, ll. 391-93) </pre> <p>The relationship between the scribe and Angela reverses itself completely. No longer a scolder and an accuser of Angela's vociferous and scandalous conduct as he was at the time of her ecstasy in St. Francis's Basilica, the Franciscan assumes the posture of the humble disciple who seeks to learn from her teacher and that of the spiritual son who tries to imitate her mother. (23) He writes what he hears, and does not write when he is so instructed. (24) Precisely for these reasons, the scribe shares the blessings that Angela and her socia receive from the Other, as Angela says: "... fiebat benedictio super caput nostri trium ..."; "... se fazea la benedizione sopra lo capo de nui tre ..." (ch. 6, 268, 1. 139). And both Angela and the scribe must give thanks to God for the writings they have begun and written together (ch. 9, 370, ll. 179-82).

Thus, although present from beginning to end, the scribe's voice leaves the way to that of Angela. (25) Hers is the voice that speaks throughout the text. (26) Although apparently forced to speak by her confessor, in relating her experiences she is afraid that her words will be judged sinful by God, since she speaks so poorly and defectively. (27) In fact, she is aware that what she relates and her confessor writes, although true, is so inadequately expressed through words that it appears mendacious. (28) At best, what she can tell her scriptor, compared to what she hears from the Other, is either "male dicere" or "nihil dicere": "dire niente, over dire male" (ch. 9, 360, ll. 83); furthermore, time and again, as she listens to the scribe repeating to her what he has written under her dictation, Angela comments that her words are blasphemies. (29)

The ultimate approval of what Angela relates to the scribe and of what he writes, derives neither from the scribe, nor from her female companion, nor from other witnesses, (30) nor from the Church representatives, but from the Other. However defective, everything said and written is true, the Other says to Angela:</p> <pre> Omnia quae ibi scripta sunt vera sunt et non est ibi unum aliquid Mendaciter dictum, sed erant magis plena multum vel magis plene multum; et defectuose est dictum et quod scriptor scripserat diminute vel cum defectu. (Ogni cosa che n'e scrito e vero e non z'e alcuna cosa dita mendazemente, ma erano molto piu piene; e defectuosamente ene dito, e lo scriptore le scripte diminutamente e con difecto.) (ch. 4, 218, ll. 215-18) (31) Et [Deus] respondit mihi quod totum quod ego dixi et quod tu

scripsisti totum erat verum, et non erat ibi aliquid falsum vel

superfluum. (Et respoxeme che tuto quelo ch'io dissi e che tu scrivesti, tutto iera vero e non z'era niente falso ne soperchio.)

(ch. 9, 398, ll. 503-04) </pre> <p>This is the drama that Angela, the true author of the Memoriale, experiences when speaking about the Other: it is the drama of the creature who, "reveniens de secretis Dei" and speaking "securiter" about them, is nevertheless fully aware that her words are "verbula de extra" or words from the outside: "et meum dicere est devastare, unde et dico me blasphemare"; "ma [lo mio dizere] e uno guastare; onde dico che io biastemo" (ch. 9, 386, ll. 378-80).

For Angela's voice, caught in this drama of speaking and writing, the ultimate term of comparison can be nothing else but "illud bonum quod video cum tanta tenebra": "quelo [bene] che vezo con tanta tenebra" (ch. 9, 358, 1. 56), a bonum that surpasses everything, including--Angela says to the scribe--"omnia quae scripsisti unquam"; namely, all the things that the scribe had ever written (ch. 9, 358, ll. 55-56). And it is not Angela's confessor, from the outside, but rather this inner Word spoken to her that prompts her to speak:</p> <pre> Modo de novo dictum est mihi istud et impressum ita cordi meo, quod vix possum me tenere quod non bandio vel clamo illud omnibus.... (Mo' di nuovo m'e dito questo et e impresso si al cuore mio, che apena ne posso tenere che non lo bandisca e chiama ad ogni persona.... (ch. 4, 218, ll. 228-30) (32) </pre> <p>In fact, precisely this inner word and certitude, infused into her by the Other, prompts her to speak in a manner analogous to the Johannine description of the Verbum:</p>

<pre> Ego haberem conscientiam dicendi ista quae dico, nisi esset unum verbum quod dictum est mihi; quia dictum est mihi quod quanto plus dico et quanto plus dixero de istis, plus remanebit mihi.

(Io averia consienzia de dizere queste cose che io dico, se non

fosse una parolle che m'e dita; imperzioche m'e dito che quanto piu

ne dico e dirone de queste cose, piu ne remanera a me.) (ch. 4, 216, ll. 206-09) </pre> <p>The word spoken to her has become an immanent Word: no matter how widely it is communicated to and shared with others, that Word shall never abandon her but always remain with her. Angela herself has been totally transformed into the Other:</p>

<pre> Et video me solam cum Deo, totam mundam, totam sanctificatam, totam veram, totam rectam, totam certificatam et totam caelestem in eo. Et quando sum in isto, non recordor alterius rei. (E vegome solla con Dio, tuta monda, tuta santificata, tutta vera, tutta retta, tutta certa, e tuta zelestiale in esso. E quando sono in questo, non me recordo d'altra cossa.) (ch. 9, 390, ll. 413--16) (33) </pre> <p>And it is the Other that speaks and bears witness to this inner transformation:</p> <pre> Filia pacis, in the pausat tota Trinitas, tota veritas, ita quod tu tenes me et ego teneo te. (Fiolla de paze, in te se posa tuta la Trenitade, si che tu tieni mi et io tegno ti.) (ch. 9, 390, ll. 418-19) </pre> <p>By way of conclusion, I would like make a few remarks about autobiography as regards Angela's Memoriale. In a series of studies as well-known as they are controversial, Philippe Lejeune argues that at the basis of autobiography resides a contract: the autobiographer's covenant with the reader to write his/her life account. Insofar as autobiography, according to Lejeune's definition, is founded on such I-you relationship--the I being the narrator-protagonist and the you being the audience--every autobiographical project bears out an inherently dialogic nature. Lejeune's definition of this genre privileges contemporary autobiograpy, beginning with Rousseau's Les Confessions and thus excluding from the autobiographical genre all writings written between Augustine's Confessiones and Vico's Vita. According to my previous analysis, however, Angela's Memoriale evinces an inherent dialogic nature. (34) On the one hand, the particular nature of mystical experience requires of Angela a "radical passivity"; namely, the emptying out and the annihilation of the self, as Giovanni Pozzi explains by commenting on a quotation of a sixteenth-century mystic, Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi. (35) On the other hand, despite the mystic's radical passivity in front of the divinity, Angela da Foligno cannot but dialogize. In fact, she does so first and foremost with the divinity, without whom no mystical experience would occur and no dialogizing could be initiated; second, she dialogues with her scribe, her disciples, and all readers. Angela's "radical passivity" in front of the Other is evidenced by her ecstatic rapture in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, the first of many mystical episodes. This mystical rapture evidences even more keenly the extent to which the Other takes complete control of her:</p> <pre> ... una vice fui tracta anima et videbat quod istud quod quaerebat non habebat initium neque finem. Et ipsa anima, cum esset in ipsa tenebra, volebat redire ad se et non poterat; et non poterat procedere ante, nec poterat redire retro ad se. Et post istud subito fuit anima levata et illuminata.... Et fuit anima statim extracta de omni illa tenebra priori. Unde et prius in illa tenebra iacebam in terra, sed in ista maxima illuminatione steti in pedibus, in summitate digitorum grossorum pedum. Et eram in tanta laetitia et agilitate corporis et sanitate corporis et renovatione corporis, quod nunquam tantam habueram. (... una fiata fue elevata e trata l'anima e vedeva che questo ch'io adimandava non aveva prinzipio ne fine. Et essa anima, mentre era in essa tenebra, e voleva tornare a rietro a se, non poteva; e non poteva ire innanti, ne ritomare a rietro a se. Et dapo' queste cosse l'anima subitamente fo levata et iluminata.... E fo l'anima incontinenti trata de tuta quela tenebra de prima. Onde e inprima in quela tenebra io iazea in terra, ma in questa grande inluminazione stiti in piedi, in su le ponte de le dite grosse de li piedi. Et era in tanta letizia e alegreza del corpo e rinovazione, che mai tanta non avea avuta.) (ch. 6, 282, ll. 298-308) </pre> <p>At the same time, despite Angela's radical passivity in front of the Other, rime and again she initiates with the Divinity a dialogue based on insistence and demands. For instance, precisely during her pilgrimage to Assisi that led to her first ecstatic rapture, she addresses St. Francis with a certain insistence so that he may obtain for her a special grace: to experience God and to become truly poor, since she had kept well the Franciscan rule she had just embraced (ch. 3, 178, ll. 17-21).

Just as Angela enters into a dialogue with the Other, she also dialogues with her scribe and her female companion. Her socia, in fact, often witnesses Angela's mystical raptures and occasionally plays the function of intermediary between Angela and the Franciscan friar (e.g., ch. 7, 320, ll. 371-85). Furthermore, through Angela, the male scribe and Angela's female companion form a human trinity, thus entering together a dialogue with the Other and sharing the blessings bestowed upon Angela:</p>

<pre> Et quando venit hora comedendi, tunc rogavi Deum quod auferret mihi omne peccatum et faceret mihi ipse ablutionem per merita suae

passionis sanctissimae, et daret mihi suam benedictionem et sociae

meae et tibi .... Et tunc videbatur mihi videre illam manum benedicientem, et comprehendebam quod fiebat benedictio super caput nostri trium....

(E quando venne l'ora di manzare, pregai Dio che me tolese ogni

pecato, e fazeseme la obsuluzione per i meriti de la sua pasione, e desseme la sua benedizione e a la conpagna mia et a te. ... Et alora mi parea ch'io vedese quela mane che me benedizea, e comprendea che se fazea la benedizione sopra lo capo de nui tre....) (ch. 6, 266-68, ll. 133-39) (36) </pre> <p>To such a dialogue with the Other, on the one hand, and with the scribe and her socia, on the other, one can attribute the specifically feminine voice of Angela's Memoriale. Breaking the rule of silence to which society relegates her because of her sex, Angela's prise de parole constitutes an act of power marking her attempt at entering into language and thus into the public sphere of social interaction. (37)


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Reszkiewicz, Alfred. Main Sentence Elements in The Book of Margery Kempe: A Study in Major Syntax. Wroclaw: 1962.

Sanger, Paul. "Silent Reading: Its Impact on Late Medieval Script and Society." Viator 13 (1982): 367-414.

Scrittrici mistiche italiane. Ed. Giovanni Pozzi and Claudio Leonardi. Genova: Marietti, 1988.

Seymour, M. C. "A Fifteenth-Century East Anglia Scribe." Medium Aevum 37 (1968): 166-73.

Shozo, Shibath. "Notes on the Vocabulary of The Book of Margery Kempe." Studies in English Grammar and Linguistics: A Miscellany in Honor of Takanobu Otsuka. Ed. Kazao Araki. Tokyo: Kenkysha, 1958. 209-20.

Spitzer, Leo. "Note on the Poetic and the Empirical 'I' in Medieval Authors." Traditio 4 (1946): 414-22.

Stock, Brian. "Medieval Literacy, Linguistic, Theory, and Social Organization." New Literary History 16 (1984): 13-30.

Stone, Robert Karl. Middle English Prose Style: Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich. The Hague: Mouton, 1970.


The University of N. Carolina at Chapel Hill


(1) This abbreviated name ("fratre A.") is found only once, in the so-called second redazione: "Quaere ab eo, scilicet fratre A., quia illud quod fuit tibi dictum iam venit in te, scilicet Trinitas" (ch. 3, 190, ll. 188-90). The two editors whose edition I am using, Thier and Calufetti, remark: "La sigla che indica il redattore del Memoriale si trova nel codice sublacense [seconda redazione]: Fra A., comunemente decifrata "frater Arnaldus" ("Introduzione" 42; but see also 29n14; 133n5: "Tutta la tradizione biografica di Angela riconosce in questo cappellano il suo parente fr. Arnaldo, ma non e apoditticamente documentabile"). The two most recent editors of Angela's writings point out various other interpretations of the scribe's abbreviation: "frate Amato"; "frate Adamo"; "frate Arnoldo"; "frate Arnolfo" (Thier-Calufetti 42n1). The issue of decoding the abbreviation occurs also in ch. 4, 210, 1. 115 ("quaeras a tali fratre"; but n13 points out the variant of another codex: "a tali F."). In the Testificatio, the scribe is referred to as "quemdam fratrem minorem ride dignum" (126, ll. 1-2). Only once in the Memoriale is a name of a frater spelled out: "frater Apicus" (ch. 9, 374, 1. 240; n28). I am quoting from re edition edited by Thier and Calufetti. Pozzi strongly criticizes this edition, and prefers that by Ferre, which follows the manuscript A (=Assisi; Pozzi, Angela, Il libro, "Nota al testo" 236-47).

(2) Nothing else but the rather rudimentary (albeit very effective) Latin of Angela's writings explains (but does hOt justify) the literary critics' neglect of these writings. Concerning the language of the writings attributed to Angela, Pozzi comments: "Fosse pervenuto nella veste originale, questo sarebbe un classico fra quei testi di lingua che furono i prediletti da linguaioli, puristi, filologi romanzi. Nemmeno frai cultori di latino medievale, il suo lessico rude e popolaresco ha sollevato attenzione. Per una scrittura di tal livello, tra le piu belle nel genere spirituale, e una ben mediocre fortuna" (Angela, Il libro, "Introduzione" 56-57). In another study, most appropriately Pozzi comments: "Per quanto riguarda l'indifferenza della letteratura, in Italia, alle remore provocate dalle forme istituzionali di queste scritture si e aggiunta una difficolta piu generale che impedisce tuttora di riunire la storia di questa produzione alla storia della lingua e letteratura nazionale. In Italia, la storia letteraria ha fatto pienamente sua la produzione religiosa volgare del due e trecento; ma ha trascurato il resto, con un crescendo man mano che si giunge alle ultime eta. L'ha assunta non in ragione del contenuto, ma della lingua, intesa questa non come forma distintiva di un pensiero particolarissimo, bensi come tesoro lessicale ed esemplarita grammaticale della lingua toscana antica" ("L'alfabeto delle sante," Scrittrici mistiche 25).

(3) On this regard Battelli writes: "Forse una traccia della primitiva redazione volgare si puo scorgere nell'opuscolo La via della croce che il Mazzatinti trascrisse diplomaticamente dal codice Panciatichiano XXXVIII della Nazionale di Firenze e pubblico nella Miscellanea francescana del 1888, e del quale io procurai poi un'edizione accessibile al pubblico nell'eo volumetto de' miei Fiori di letteratura ascetica e mistica editi con molta cura tipografica da G. Giannini in Firenze (la Edizione 1919; seconda 1925)" ("Introduzione" xiv n1, Angela, Visioni e consolazioni).

(4) According to the edition of Angela's writings by Thier and Calufetti (hereafter quoted as Memoriale), these titles are: Autobiografia e scritti della beata Angela da Foligno; L'esperienza mistica della beata Angela da Foligno nel racconto di fr. Arnaldo; Vita e conversione meravigliosa della beata Angela da Foligno; Il libro delle mirabili visioni e consolazioni della beata Angela da Foligno; Il libro della beata sorella Angela del Terz'Ordine di S. Francesco; Il libro dell'esperienza dei veri fedeli ("Introduzione" 41-42, Libro). In Thier's and Calufetti's edition, Angela's writings contain: "a) Autobiografia mistica o memoriale; b) Esortazioni salutifere (lettere, meditazioni, pensieri, discorsi e altre fivelazioni) di sublimi esperienze che fanno pensare a un secondo memoriale spirituale; c) Racconto del 'beato transito', con gli ultimi insegnamenti e il messaggiotestamento di Angela." The two editors suggest that the first part of these writings should more properly be called Memoriale ("Introduzione" 42, Libro). They point out, however, that the terre memoriale ("... ego frater scripsi ... quasi pro quodam mihi memoriali" ch. 2, 166, 1. 86) occurs only once in this writing (166n14); that the terre has been used as a title may reflect what has occurred in the writings of the contemporary St. Gertrude: "Per quod verbum intellexit Dominum velle imponi libello illi tale nomen, scilicet Memoriale abundantiae divinae suavitatis" (Gertrude d'Hefta, Lib. 1: 108; qtd. ThierCalufetti 166-67n14). And yet, the prologue to the Memoriale would suggest a different title: Vere fidelium experientia (Memoriale 128, 1. 14; but see also 128n3).

(5) "L'experience mystique est avant tout une experience de passivite radicale: c'est le transcendent, le mystere qui envahit l'existence humaine" ("Mystique," Dictionnaire de spiritualite ascetique). I refer to this extensive essay, with ample bibliography, for the analysis of the fundamental concepts and phenomena of mysticism. See also the older but still useful article "Mystique" in Dictionnaire de theologie catholique.

(6) To illustrate such an annihilation of the creature, Pozzi quotes a sixteenth-century mystic, Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi (1566-1607): "Il maggior narrare che si possa fare di te e di rilassarsi tutto in te e annichilarsi sotto te" ("Patire e non potere" 1; de' Pazzi 3.283). Pozzi thus comments on Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi's quotation: "Due dati pertinenti sono li indicati con impressionante esattezza. L'uno, che la storia narrata s'identifica con la sua narrazione; cio e vero perche lo svolgersi dei fatti che interessano l'una parte (rilassarsi e annichilarsi appartengono al solo io, non a Dio), sono essi stessi il dicibile e quindi il significante d'una contropartita indicibile. L'altro, che gli elementi significanti di quella storia sono l'inizio e la conclusione (rilassarsi vs annichilarsi); significanti in quanto sono le invariabili .... Il primo dei due elementi invita a riflettere su come il dicibile, che e un sapere, si colleghi con un fare ineffabile..." ("Patire e non potere" 2).

(7) Scholars point out the peculiar difficulty of studying medieval mysticism precisely because what is known to us is based on texts: "La seconde raison pour laquelle il serait hasardeux d'ecrire l'histoire de la mystique a cette epoque est qu'on ignore presque tout de l'experience elle-meme. On ne possede que des textes relatant des souvenirs. Or, ces textes sont toujours deja le resultat d'une confrontation" ("Mystique," Dictionnaire de spiritualite 1903).

(8) For this issue, see for instance the following comments: "Parfois, mais rarement, on dispose d'un texte redige au niveau de l'experience, comme les pages d'un journal intime. Plus frequemment, la redaction prend la forme de memoires: on y trouve une relation d'experiences, mais celles-ci son tirees et inventoriees selon une signification et des rapports qu'ils ont acquis ou qu'on leur attribue a partir d'un point d'arrivee dans le temps; il s'agit donc d'une perspective creee de toutes pieces par l'assemblage actuel d'elements anterieurs epars dans une histoire. Mais le niveau beaucoup plus frequent, et par consequent beaucoup moins personnel, de redaction des textes mystiques, est celui de la confrontation avec les idees recues et le language religieux du milieu. Cette confrontation peut prendre des formes tres variees: rassembler par exemple a des memoires, mais dont les elements sont assembles et ordonnes pour informer le directeur, viser a une defense des contemplatifs, fournir une direction spirituelle, ou meme se constituer en un traitre proprement dit. On aura donc toujours a faire avec des tEmoins litteraires necessairement aussi eloignes de l'experience. Il faut prendre a la lettre l'avertissement repete des auteurs que leurs descriptions trahissent bien davantage l'experience qu'ils ne la traduissent" ("Mystique", Dictionnaire de spiritualite 1903). "Il en resulte que le langage humain, faisant appel aux operations distinctes des puissances, demeure toujours successif et juxtapose, de sorte que meme le souvenir de l'experience constituera pour le mystique une reconstruction additive defectueuse" ("Mystique", Dictionnaire de spiritualite 1904). Furthermore, whereas male mystics seem unable to leave behind the theological system they belong to, female mystics develop an original and dynamic "mode de pensee" ("Mystique", Dictionnaire de spiritualite 1906). For further considerations on these issues in reference to Angela da Foligno, see Arcangeli.

(9) An extraordinary example of the peculiar nature of mystical writing is offered by Mafia Maddalena de' Pazzi, whose words, pronounced while she was in ecstasy, were transcribed by her fellow sisters, who took turns in witnessing the mystic's ecstasies and recording her words (Scrittrici mistiche italiane 419-46).

(10) Two translators of Angela's writings--Salvatore Aliquo and Giovanni Pozzi--adopt a technological device to separate the voice of the scriptor, which is printed in italics, from that of the fidelis Christi, which is printed in Roman. Insofar as the text presents itself as a narrative continuum, such a device may be objectionable.

(11) One of the most extensive autobiographical episodes of the Memoriale, Angela's ecstasy in Assisi marks a turning point in her spiritual life and in Fra Arnaldo's interest in her. In order better to understand Angela's "scandalous" ecstasy, Fra Arnaldo forces her to speak to him: "... coepi cogere earn omni modo quo potui quod ipsa indicaret mihi quare sic et tantum striderat vel clamaverat quando venerat Assisium" (ch. 2, 170, ll. 116-18). Thus that ecstatic episode offered to her the opportunity to relate her experiences and to him to transcribe them (Memoriale ch. 2, 174, ll. 168-70).

(12) The editors Thier and Calufetti employ Italics to indicate what they call the seconda redazione (118); the translation in a vernacular from Verona comes from "Cod. Milano, Bibliot. Trivulziana 150" (M), facing the Latin text in the Thier-Calufetti edition (described at 58-61).

(13) As we read in the "Testificatio" that precedes the prologue of the Memoriale, Cardinal Giacomo Colonna and eight other "famosi lectores" approve these writings, which they "humiliter venerantur et tamquam divina carius amplectantur" ("Testificatio" 126-28; my emphasis). Also Angela has a human witness of many mystical experiences: the "socia sua, quae erat mirabilis simplicitatis et puritatis et virginitatis" (ch. 3, 188, ll. 165-66). On the identification of this female companion, see Their-Calufetti's "Introduction" (30-33).

(14) Within this context, the word "Other" is meant to signify, as we read in the "Presentazione" to Scrittrici mistiche italiane, "il Dio personale, considerato come il tutto diverso da sd e l'equivalente di sd, in un dialogo perpetuo d'amore" (14).

(15) Further examples of Fra Arnaldo's inner need to write: "... sed ita incoeptum [passum] dimitto vel differo, donec hic referam breviter quomodo, Christo mirabiliter faciente, ad istorum notitiam deveni, et ita scribere omnino quomodo sum coactus" (ch. 1,156, ll. 308-10).

(16) Insofar as he read back to Angela, Fra Arnaldo followed a practice common to medieval secretaries; the extent to which he refrained from expanding Angela's words emphasizes the peculiar nature of his scribal role, which he viewed in a more narrow sense. For references to scribal roles: Saenger; Brown 272-73; Curtius 76; 314; Gurevich; Stock; Johnson.

(17) "[Q]uadruplex est modus faciendi librum. Aliquis enim scribit aliena, nihil addendo vel mutando; et iste mere dicitur scriptor. Aliquis scribit aliena, addendo, sed non de suo; et iste compilator dicitur. Aliquis scribit et aliena et sua, sed aliena tamquam principalia, et sua tamquam annexa ad evidentiam; et iste dicitur commentator, non auctor. Aliquis scribit et sua et aliena, sed sua tamquam principalia, aliena tamquam annexa ad confirmationem; et tails debet dici auctor" (Bonaventure, Opera theologica selecta 1.12). Within a medieval context, God is the only auctor who creates ex nihilo (Chenu; Spitzer; Minnis; Minnis and Scott; Allen; within a contemporary perspective: Foucault; Barthes; Kamuf).

(18) To himself, the scriptor, Fra Arnaldo, often attributes the inability to write what he hears ("Septimus passus est revelatio, quam tantum dicere possumus: non 'cogitari posse' vel non esse quodcumque cogitari posse", ch. 2, 164, ll. 68-69) and the imperfections or limitations of his written words ("... Deus mirabiliter revelavit sibi quod omnia vera et sine mendacio scripseramus, quamvis essent multo magis plena quam ego scripsissem et quod ego diminute et cum defectu scripseram" (ch. 2, 158-60, ll. 8-10).

(19) Examples of Fra Arnaldo's function as a questioner: "Quia quando ego frater quaesivit ab illa fidele Christi si istud quod posui septimo trahit plus animam quam omnia praeterita, respondit ..." (ch. 2, 164-66, ll. 71-73).

(20) Fra Arnaldo is also prevented from speaking to Angela. At that time, a little boy ("puer parvulus") writes down vulgariter what Angela relates, a relation poorly written -he comments--which he then translates into Latin (ch. 7, 288, ll. 8-17). This translation continues until page 296, 1. 95.

(21) "... Deus mirabiliter revelavit sibi quod omnia vera et sine mendacio scripseramus ..."; "et [Deus] era praesens in istis quae scribebamus ..." (ch. 2, 158-60, ll. 8-9).

(22) Examples of Fra Arnaldo in the posture of disciple: "Item ego frater scriptor volui scire et discere ab ea, quomodo Deus potest cognosci in creaturis" (ch. 5, 248, ll. 202-03). "Ego frater scriptor quando praedictam scientiam inquirebam, respondebat ipsa mihi quod detruncabatur sibi non solum praedicta, sed etiam alia de quibus quaerebam, sicut videtur mihi, et destiti tunc scribere" (ch. 5,250, ll. 219-21). As an example of spiritual imitation, see above the passage in which Fra Arnaldo goes to confession before approaching Angela (ch. 2, 172-74, ll. 161-67). He is interrupted (ch. 7, 328, ll. 467-69).

(23) Mazzoni (67) expands on this notion, which she elaborates from Bataille's references to Angela da Foligno (in Le Coupable). On Angela's portrait as mother, see also Walker Bynum 27; 229.

(24) "... et fuerunt mihi dicta verba altissima, quae nolo quod scribantur" (ch. 9, 394, ll. 464-65).

(25) The concept of "voice" is difficult to explain. For Bakhtin, the voice "is the speaking personality, the speaking consciousness. A voice always has a will or desire behind it, its own timbre and overtones. SINGLE-VOICE DISCOURSE ... is the dream of poets; DOUBLE-VOICE DISCOURSE ... the realm of the novel" (434). In reference to Angela, however, one could argue that her words reveal the uniqueness of her voice as well the origin of her discourse (the Other) and its intended audience.

(26) Pozzi thus comments: "Pur se martoriata da traduzioni, ritraduzioni, parafrasi, commenti, la parola di Angela arriva vivente alle nostre orecchie: disadorna, nuda, aspra, talora dolcissima" (Angela, Il libro, "Introduzione" 53).

(27) "Et Deus velit quod non sit mihi peccatum, quia ita male et cum defectu refero" (ch. 4, 206, ll. 69-70).

(28) Speaking is seen as a lie: "Et videtur mihi quod haec omnia dicamus modo quasi pro truffis, quia aliter erat quam posset dici; et ego ipsa verecundor dicere magis efficaciter" (ch. 4, 200, ll. 16-18).

(29) "... quia ita solum referre vel audire quasi nihil est" (ch. 5, 234, l. 54); "... vide tur mihi quod sit blasphemare" (ch. 9, 360, l. 85); "Videtur mihi blasphemare quidquid dico..."; (ch. 2, 166); "... quia ita solum referre vel audire quasi nihil est" (ch. 5, 234, ll. 54). Also: ch. 9, 384, ll. 344-47; ch. 9, 388, l. 403.

(30) For instance, a "frater dignus fide," who received a revelation about Angela (ch. 8, 338, ll. 27-34). At the end of the Memoriale, we are informed of the presence of two witnesses: "... duo alii fratres Minores, familiares praedictae fidelis Christi et vere digni fide, omnia quae scripta sunt viderent et audirent ab ore eius, et omnia examinarent cum ea et pluries cum ea tractarent; et etiam, quod plus est, certi divina gratia redderentur a Domino, quod et verbo et opere fideliter attestantur" (ch. 9, 400. ll. 528-32).

(31) The writing turns into a term of comparison to determine the truthfulness of her experience: however true Fra Arnaldo's writing is, Angela's inner certitude surpasses everything and is unshakable (ch. 6, 276, ll. 239-49); also ch. 9, 358, ll. 54-59.

(32) It is this inner word that tells her to speak to Fra Arnaldo: "Unde pluries dictum est ei quod praedicta verba et exemplum diceret mihi. Et dicebatur el: Dicas ei!" (ch. 5, 244, ll. 160-61). Also ch. 5, 146, ll. 177-78.

(33) At the same time, Angela experiences also the opposite condition: namely, of being immersed into sin: "... et video me--in me totam--peccatum et oboedientiam peccato, obliquam et immundam, totam falsam et erroneam, sed remaneo quieta" (ch. 9, 390, ll. 423-25).

(34) Isofar as Lejeune's definition bases autobiography on a contract between the narrator-protagonist and the audience, it also grounds autobiography on Bakhtin's concept of dialogism, which is thus described in the "Glossary" of The Dialogic Imagination: "Dialogism is the characteristic epistemological mode of a world dominated by heteroglossia. Everything means, is understood as a part of a greater whole--there is constant interaction between meanings, all of which have the potential of conditioning others" (426).

(35) "Il maggior narrare che si possa fare di te e di rilassarsi tutto in te e annichilarsi sotto te" (Le parole dell'estasi 3.283).

(36) Fra Arnaldo time and again asks Angela so that she may present to God specific requests: "Et post istud superius dictum, ego frater rogaveram eam quod ipsa rogaret Deum quod ipse illuminaret nos de praedicto dubio" (ch. 6, 274, ll. 203-05).

(37) Concerning the difference of genres in medieval mystical writings: "Il est tres difficile d'ecrire l'histoire de la mystique medievale de facon quelque peu scientifique. D'abord a cause d'une certaine confusion terminologique; ensuite a cause des genres lit teraires assi differents dont relevent les sources qui, par ailleurs, nous sont parvenues en grande abondance" ("Mystique", Dictionnaire d'ascetique 1902). Obviously the cultural background influences mystics: "D' abord entre la nouveaute de l'experience du mystique et le bagage de representations culturelles et religieuses qu'il avait acquis au cours de sa vie" ("Mystique", Dictionnaire d'ascetique 1903).
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