Printer Friendly

From medieval mystic to early modern anchoress: rewriting The Book of Margery Kempe.

   I haue ordeynd pe to be a merowr amongys hem for to han
   gret sorwe pat pei xulde takyn exampil by pe for to haue
   sum litil sorwe in her hertys for her synnys pat pei myth
   perthorw be sauyd. (1)

The persistence of medieval religious writing in early modern print culture can be used to demonstrate the trajectory of early modern spirituality. (2) In constructing a relationship with the literary past, sixteenth-century readers were able to view themselves in relation to a constant religious tradition, one that emphasizes the development of a private, more interior spirituality. If a medieval text did not promote the inward, meditative devotion favored by later audiences, however, early modern redactors adapted them to emphasize the features of private devotion that were practiced in everyday worship. These textual reconstructions range from the minimal to the extreme, reflecting a cautious awareness of religious and sociopolitical values, especially since early modern editions catered to widely diverse audiences. In her seminal book, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern England, Elizabeth Eisenstein claims:
   Every manuscript that came into the printer's hands ... had
   to be reviewed in a new way--one which encouraged more
   editing, correcting, and collating than had the hand-copied
   text. Within a generation the results of this review were being
   aimed in a new direction--away from fidelity to scribal conventions
   and toward serving the convenience of a reader. (3)

Consequently, the differences between manuscripts and their later printed variations must be seen as signifying changing spiritual trends and not deliberate censorship. This article shows how the process of revision allowed early modern editors to emphasize the continuities between medieval and contemporary religiosity and concurrently to soften any tensions between the two eras. To demonstrate this, I examine two early modern incarnations of The Book of Margery Kempe: A Shorte Treatyse of Contemplacyon, printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1501, and Henry Pepwell's 1521 reprint in a spiritual anthology. Even if The Book of Margery Kempe is not the text people immediately think of when they consider the nascent years of print history, its unusual metamorphosis reveals that the portability of medieval texts entailed a complex editorial process before they were disseminated to the masses.

Certainly, texts are adapted for different purposes across changing religious climes, and a comparison between the two printed editions and their manuscript antecedent demonstrates the great effort it took to resurrect The Book of Margery Kempe from the medieval past and redeploy it as a religiously conservative early modern text. (4) Textual evidence cites the year 1436 as the date when work on the Book began in earnest, and the only remaining copy of the text, identified as the Salthouse manuscript (British Library Additional 61823), is believed to have been transcribed some time in the middle of the fifteenth century. (5) Scholars may never know the extent to which the manuscript circulated, but the fact that it was transformed into two early modern editions indicates that someone thought it had merit for later audiences.

Until very recently, scholars maintained that the redaction was contemporaneous with BL Additional 61823, with most of the speculation in support of Master Robert Springold, Margery's confessor, as the most likely candidate to have either produced or commissioned the abridgment in a now-lost manuscript. (6) To maintain such a proposal, however, is to overlook the active role printers played in the production of their wares through "the vast labor of adaptation--shortening texts, simplifying them, cutting them up, [and] providing illustrations." (7) As Roger Chartier explains, this complex process of refashioning "was commanded by how the bookseller-publishers who specialized in the market envisioned their customers' abilities and expectations," and the redactor of the Shorte Treatyse utilizes each of these techniques to produce a version of Margery Kempe that would appeal to new readers. (8)

While smaller-sized devotional handbooks were popular items in the London bookstalls during the Tudor period, the 124-page Book was condensed into a mere seven pages of text in 1501--eight pages counting a woodcut image of the crucifixion. A significant abridgement like this points to the use of what Kathryn Kerby-Fulton calls a professional reader--"someone whose job description (supervisory scribe, corrector, annotator, editor, illustrator) allows him to filter the text for presentation to the patron or reading community." (9) Whoever the extractor may have been, he clearly had an idea of what a devotional text should look like and how to present it to later audiences. Rebecca L. Schoff has recently argued in favor of Thomas Betson as the mysterious redactor of Margery's Book, basing her argument on the similarities that the Shorte Treatyse shares with Betson's A Right Profitable Treatise, composed around the year 1500. (10) While her view is groundbreaking in the sense that it is the first time a scholar has provided a name for the anonymous redactor, my task here is to provide a close reading of the extracts to substantiate the theory that the adaptation was not taken from an earlier manuscript exemplar. (11) As I show below, the Shorte Treatyse is so unlike its predecessor in both scope and presentation that historical distance seems to be the most logical explanation for these differences.

Readers familiar with the Book recognize it as a spiritual narrative that sensationalizes Margery Kempe's very remarkable, highly unusual life, during which she was scorned by clerical and secular communities alike. The intent of Margery's narrative, then, was to serve as "a schort tretys and a comfortabyl for synful wrecchys, wher-in bei may haue gret solas and comfort to hem and vndyrstondyn be hy & vnspecabyl mercy of ower souereyn Sauyowr Cryst Ihesu." (12) One would think that the biographical story of a reformed, self-professed sinner would be appealing to a lay readership looking to cultivate a more virtuous manner of living, but Margery's conversion is not one of traditional religious enlightenment wherein she is led to understand and express the importance of her visions within the sanctioned institutional parameters of the late medieval Church. On the contrary, her meditations transcend the realm of private vision, producing physical manifestations that were often viewed as disruptive by the medieval community:
   pe forseyd creatur wept & sobbyd so plentyvowsly as pow
   sche had seyn owyr Lord wyth hir bodyly ey sufferyng hys
   Passyon at pat tyme ... whan pei cam vp on-to pe Mownt
   of Caluarye, sche fel down pat sche mygth not stondyn ne
   knelyn but walwyd & wrestyd wyth hir body, spredyng hir
   armys a-brode, & cryed wyth a lowde voys. (13)

This is not the mystical behavior envisioned by Julian of Norwich, an anchoress from whom Margery famously sought counsel, and it clearly defies the spiritual moderation proffered by another text that Margery was familiar with, Walter Hilton's Scale of Perfection. Her visions even exceed the prescriptive meditations of Nicholas Love, whose Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ encourages his readers to imagine "pe processe of [Christ's] passione, takynge hede & making vs in mynde as present, to alle pat folowep (14) Whether or not Margery Kempe was familiar with the dictates of Love's treatise, she takes the process of envisioning the Passion to extremes by imagining herself present at Christ's crucifixion, becoming an active participant in the melee leading up to and following his death. As the Book describes, "pe sayd creatur thowt pat sche ran euyr to & fro as it had be a woman wyth-owtyn reson." (15)

Medieval texts about the lives of women were certainly numerous in the manuscript tradition; however, the manner of their appearance in print reveals that later audiences handled them much more carefully than earlier ones. (16) The fact that these texts are concerned with spirituality further complicates their appropriateness for later generations of readers. For instance, Julian of Norwich's Revelations was not printed until 1670, three hundred years after its initial composition. (17) Julian's Revelations is an example of what Nicholas Watson designates as "speculative vernacular theology," and the raison d'etre of Revelations is to relate her experiential visions to her "even-cristene, that thaye might alle see and knawe the same that [she] saw, for [she] walde that it ware comforthe to thame"; this is quite similar to the intention of Margery's Book. (18) Although many circumstances differentiate the two texts, Margery's Shorte Treatyse gained a sixteenth-century audience that Julian's Revelations never encountered. Nevertheless, this does not mean that Margery's Book was immediately ready for print; in fact, a great amount of effort was required to refashion the text as one more suitable for readers in the years leading up to the Reformation.

Whereas the Book reveals how medieval figures of authority were unable to regulate Margery's performative, aggressive brand of spirituality, the redactor expunges her eccentric behavior, producing a tamer, more obedient example of how piety should look for an early modern readership, most of whom were probably women. Redeployed as "a shorte treatyse of contemplacyon," the early sixteenth-century edition features a quiet and submissive Margery Kempe who is "taught by our lorde Ihesu cryste" a more disciplined meditative style. (19) Although the redactor upholds the intent of the Book--to provide an understanding of "pe hy & vnspecabyl mercy of ower souereyn Sauyowr Cryst Ihesu"--the Shorte Treatyse's twenty-eight extracts promote an entirely different agenda from the one originally penned by Margery's amanuenses. (20) The ramifications of this textual reconstruction are thus two-fold. Such radical editing not only greatly affects the meaning of the text but also offers a way to think about early modern spirituality on the eve of the Reformation and beyond.

In Margery's case, her male scribes "had a vital stake in proving that her spirituality was real and valuable, and that she was not hypocritical, sick, heretical or affected by malignantly inspired illusions, as she had often been accused of being." (21) Despite the closeness she must have fostered with her amanuenses, their antagonistic relationships are carefully documented throughout the entirety of the Book, reinforcing the notion that certain "manifestations of female piety were provoking alarm and controversy," not only among the clergy but also among her peers. (22) To alleviate some of the tension caused by her devotional fervor and to provide a greater sense of authenticity to her visions, her scribes utilize the model of Continental mystics, not only to gain a sense of validation but also as a framework of sorts for Margery's highly unusual visions. Initially, Margery's first scribe was "in purpose neuyr to a leuyd hir felyngys," but after reading The Life of Marie d'Oignies, whereby he learned all about Marie's:
   maner of leuyng, of pe wondirful swetnesse pat sche had
   in pe word of God heryng, of pe wondirful ... compassyon
   pat sche had in hys Passyon thynkyng, & of pe plentyuows
   teerys pat sche wept ... Pan he leuyd wel pat pe good woman
   [Margery Kempe], whech he had be-forn lityl affeccyon to,
   myth not restreyn hir wepyng, hir sobbyng, ne hir crying,
   whech felt meche mor plente of grace pan euyr dede he
   wyth-owtyn any comparison. (23)

Although Margery's revelations are deliberately modeled after the works of her predecessors, the redactor supplants the mystical tradition into which Margery's scribe took such great care to write her by eliminating these details and making didacticism the overarching principle in the Shorte Treatyse's opening colophon. (24) This is not surprising considering the history of the mystical tradition in early modern England. Of the five English mystics whose works comprise the canon--the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing, Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton, Julian of Norwich, and Margery Kempe--only Hilton's Scale of Perfection was printed with great regularity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. (25) Nevertheless, Hilton expresses great concern about mystical experiences, especially in his second installment of the Scale. (26) His didactic approach places the Scale more within the religious-handbook tradition.

The same can be said of the Shorte Treatyse, whose inward, private model of spirituality sounds strikingly similar in tone to the Scale. Perhaps the extractor was a cleric who envisioned his Margery as a woman who had already read and internalized Hilton's advice "to be / right bisy nyght and day with travaile of bodi and of spirit, for to come to that [contemplative] lif as neer / as thu may bi swich meenys as thu hopist were best unto thee." (27) If so, this fits SchofFs proposal that "a monk or priest who had previously prepared texts for nuns" would be best suited to undertake a commission of this magnitude. (28) As a newly reformed didactic text, the Shorte Treatyse begins with a moment of corrective action that accentuates one of Margery's most vexing characteristics--her flair for drama. Margery endures many trials and tribulations from both foreigners and her fellow countrymen alike, and her adherence to affective piety is best described by Carolyn Dinshaw as "an unnamable combination of orthodoxy and heterodoxy." (29) Accusations of Lollardy lead to numerous threats on her life, and the inception of the Short Treatyse introduces its readers to a woman who desires martyrdom: "She desyred many tymes that her hede myght be smyten of with an axe vpon a blocke for the loue of our lorde Ihesu." (30)

Martyrdom may have been "the chief criterion for English sanctity from the early Middle Ages through the Reformation," but if we focus our attention on the manuscript, we discover a woman in great fear for her life, not one who wants to rush to her death:
   Hyr powt sche wold a be slayn for Goddys lofe, but dred for
   pe poynt of deth, & perfor sche ymagyned hyr-self pe most
   soft deth, as hir thowt, for dred of impacyens, pat was to be
   bowndyn hyr hed & hir fet to a stokke & hir hed to be smet
   of wyth a scharp ex for Goddys lofe. (31)

The cause of Margery's concern arises from the real fate she would have faced had she been found guilty of heresy. With the enactment of De heretico comburendo in 1401, heretics could be burnt at the stake, a harsh reality with which the manuscript's earlier fifteenth-century audience would have been familiar. Margery is so terrified of the slow, painful death of burning that she would rather have her head "smet of." The redactor does not necessarily misread the text, since it is a transcription of the Book; however, he transforms Margery's fear to emphasize a more submissive form of spirituality. Instead of being burned at the stake as a heretic, as the riots from the Book detail, the Margery of the Shorte Treatyse desires to embrace martyrdom, and if Christ can die for the love of mankind, Margery would willingly die for her love of Christ.

The event that precipitates her wish for this "most soft deth" in the Book occurs when her husband deserts her. Verbally accosted by "bothyn of J>e monkys & prestys & of seculer men ner al a day bope a-for-noon & aftyrnoon," Margery is besieged by an angry mob:
   Sche went owt of pe monastery, pei folwyng & crying vp-on
   hir, "pow xalt be brent, fals lollare. Her is a cartful of thornys
   redy for pe & a tonne to bren pe wyth." And pe creatur stod
   wythowtyn pe 3atys at Cawntyrbery, for it was in pe euenyng,
   mech pepyl wonderyng on hir. Pan seyd pe pepyl," Tak
   & bren hir." And pe creatur stod stylle, tremelyng & whakyng
   ful sor in hir flesch wythowtyn ony erdly comfort. (32)

Contrary to what other critics note about this incident, I do not believe her concern represents a form of "dramatic hyperbole." (33) There may have been few individuals actually sent to the fire during Margery's lifetime, but the constant threats she receives are probably not an exaggeration. To return to the opening lines of the Shorte Treatyse, then, we see that Margery's fears are taken entirely out of context as the redactor capitalizes on the shock value associated with such an immediate and voluntary wish for death. Of course, the stories of saints' and martyrs' lives that survive in the literature of the period abound with similar descriptions, but Margery was not a saint, nor was she a martyr, no matter how often her life was threatened. In order to curtail her inappropriate desire for martyrdom, Christ reminds Margery that He is the one who died for his love of mankind:
   I assure pe in thy mynde, yf it were possyble me to suffre
   payne ageyne, as I haue done afore, me were leuer to suffre
   as moche payne as euer I dyde for thy soule alone, rather
   than thou sholdest departe fro me euerlastynge. (34)

While these first two passages come from the same chapter in the Book--chapter 14, to be exact--the juxtaposition of Margery's imaginary death with Christ's actual one helps the redactor compose a more didactic treatise which, according to C. Annette Grise, is often the case with the female mystical tradition in print. (35)

To emphasize the importance of Christ's counsel, the redactor focuses on a moment where Margery "ask[s] our lorde Ihesu cryste, how she sholde best loue him." (36) His reply, "haue mynde of thy wyckednes and thynke on my goodnes," is self-reflexive, which compels both Margery and the reader to remember the Passion. (37) In all, there are eight references to the Passion in the Shorte Treatyse, yet each one eschews the violent imagery for which the Middle English mystical tradition is renowned. (38) Some of the most unforgettable descriptions of the Passion can be found in Julian of Norwich's Revelations and Richard Rolle's Meditations on the Passion. Likewise, Margery's Book teems with horrific depictions of Christ on the cross:
   Sche had so very contemplacyon in pe sygth of hir s[owle]
   as yf Crist had hangyn befor hir bodily eye in hys manhode.
   ... hys precyows tendyr body, alto-rent & toryn wyth scorgys,
   mor ful of wowndys pan euyr was duffehows of holys,
   hangyng vp-on pe cros wyth pe corown of thorn up-on hys
   heuyd, hys blysful handys, hys tendyr fete nayled to pe hard
   tre, pe reuerys of blood flowyng owt plentevowsly of euery
   membre, pe gresly & grevows wownde in hys precyows syde
   schedyng owt blood & watyr for hir lofe & hir saluacyon. (39)

In spite of the Books proclivity for vivid imagery, these graphic descriptions are not representative of the drive for interiority that the early modern redactor wanted to promote. As a result, he ignores instances where Margery's spiritual excess pushes the boundaries of affective piety to its limit in an attempt to hone an inward, contemplative practice, a decision that ultimately obviates the mystical nature for which the Book is so well known.

The road to spiritual perfection via quiet contemplation is never easy, and although Christ informs Margery, "thou mayst no better please god than to thynke contynually in his loue," readers of the Book know that her devotion to him is predicated on action, not thought. No one wears a hairshirt more; no one fasts as much; and no one embarks on pilgrimage as often as she does. While these rituals were far from obsolete at the time of the Shorte Treatyse's printing, the redactor deploys Margery's enslavement to ritual as an opportunity to legitimate a long-standing commitment to religious reserve:
   Doughter yf thou were the haberyon or pe here fastynge
   brede & water, & yf pu saydeste euery day a thousande pater
   noster. thou sholde not please me so well as thou dost whan pu
   art in scylence, & suffrest me to speke in thy soule. [41]

This inward, meditative form of worship foregrounds the importance of a private, more passive model of spirituality. The Shorte Treatyse consequently features a woman who is a paradigm of virtue, not the overzealous character from the Book who oversteps the well-defined gender boundaries of the late Middle Ages.

Once, when accused of violating Pauline doctrine, Margery famously exclaims, "I preche not, ser, I come in no pulpytt. I vse but comownycacyon & good wordys, & pat wil I do whil I leue." (42) "Comownycacyon and good wordys" still form the core of the Shorte Treatyse, but Margery's voice, during the rare times it is heard, is subordinate to that of Christ. (43) As a text designed to cultivate a deeper connection with the divine, it is only logical that spiritual instruction should come from a figure of authority, but while Margery's amanuenses function as regulatory forces in the Book, the redactor of the Shorte Treatyse focuses on Christ as the ultimate authoritative figure. (44) This modification eliminates Margery's willful disobedience to patriarchal authority and perpetuates the tradition of silencing strong, independent women. Building upon Christ's earlier request for Margery to hold her tongue, the redactor selects yet another passage that encourages silence as part of one's spiritual regimen:
   Doughter for to byd many bedes it is good to them that cannot
   better do, & yet it is not profyte. But it is a good way towarde
   perfeccyon. for I tell the doughter, they that be grete fasters,
   & grete doers of penaunce. they wolde that it shold be holde
   the befte lyf, And they that gyue them to many deuocyons,
   they wolde haue that pe best lyfe. And tho that gyuen moche
   almesse, they wolde that it were holden the best lyf. And I
   haue often tolde pe doughter, that thynkynge, wepynge, &
   hye contemplacyon is pe best lyf in erthe, & thou shalt haue
   more meryte in heuenfor oneyere thynkynge in thy mynde than
   for an hondredyere of pray eng wyth thy mouth. (45)

For a woman whose spiritual commitment involves tangible signs of devotion, such a conservative approach to religion is difficult, and Christ is forced to note, "& yet thou wylte not beleue me." (46) Later readers may have thought much like Margery, and this passage serves as a reminder that it is perfectly acceptable to find other means of channeling one's religious experience. This is not to say that reciting the rosary, fasting, uttering devotions, and giving alms are fruitless exercises. Indeed, these exercises are "a good way towarde perfeccyon," but many individuals become so invested in their quest to obtain what they think is the pe befte lyf" that they overlook other important precepts.

Because the influence of affective piety was beginning to wane long before England's final break with Rome, the inwardly-focused spirituality of the Shorte Treatyse highlights a more conservative approach to religion. While the values that would launch the Reformation were still in the early stages of development immediately following the Shorte Treatyse's publication, the religious tensions of the Middle Ages were still very palpable at the turn of the sixteenth century. The Lollard movement, spawned by John Wycliffe's teachings, continued to flourish among the laity, and "from about the year 1490 we hear with ever-increasing frequency of Lollard heretics and of official acts to obliterate the sect." (47) Even devout Catholics began to embrace reformist inclinations in their battle against heresy, "insist[ing] that Christ was to be worshipped not by custom and ceremonies, but in charity, and by meditation upon his Passion ." (48)

Nevertheless, it takes a very faithful individual to embrace the inwardly driven philosophy of "thynkynge in thy mynde" and not "prayeng wyth thy mouth," especially since acts of contemplation are abstract and not easily quantifiable. (49) If Jennifer Bryan contends that "the nebulous, highly prestigious, highly controversial concept of interiority could be variously defined and constructed for English readers" in the Middle Ages, one can only imagine the various interpretations of later audiences. (50) As Bryan explains, the layman's understanding of inwardness "could have important implications for many of the most hotly contested issues of the age: issues of understanding and faith, public ritual and private conscience, the nature of images, the right way to pray, the role of reading, even the proper attitude toward the sacraments." (51) Although many of these controversies prompted the theological deliberations of John Wycliffe in the late fourteenth century, the boundaries of orthodoxy were just as complicated in the years leading up to the Reformation. The stakes were thus very high in the business of printing devotional literature, and authors, readers, or any person who contributed to the production of these texts could be subject to punishment for the circulation of any type of material that might be deemed unorthodox. (52)

Notwithstanding this dangerous environment, early printers continued to produce and circulate medieval religious writings, showing the importance of such materials to the growing culture of print in Tudor England. Part of the danger in redeploying The Book of Margery Kempe lies in the fact that "there was a strong vernacular element in the mystical and devotional writing of the medieval period, and once individuals had access to spiritual literature in their own language, it is natural that they would try to think through its significance for themselves." (53) Readers of the Book know that Margery is particularly vexed with this dilemma, searching out counsel near and far in her quest for spiritual enlightenment, and while her behavior as described in the Shorte Treatyse is more within the bounds of orthodoxy than it is in the Book, the Shorte Treatyse shows how her contemplative practice is still in need of some refinement.

However much Christ tries to rechannel Margery's performative piety through the process of meditation, his reminder to "kepe me alway in thy mynde as moche as pu mayst & ... thynke alway pat I syt in thy herte" does not entirely tame her spiritual fervor. (54) Like many devout laymen and women, Margery utilizes the Passion to drive her into a deeper contemplative state, and when:
   She had grete wonder that our lorde wolde become man, &
   suffre so greuous paynes for her pat was so vnkynde a creature
   to hym ... she asked our lorde Ihesu how she myghte
   beste please hym. (55)

Christ's response to her plea, "haue mynde of thy wyckednes & thynke on my goodness," is a word-for-word repetition of the advice that he proffers in the third extract. This constant reinforcement enables him to "drjajwe this creture vnto his loue, & to the mynde of his passyon" whereby "she wepte as yf she had seen our lorde Ihesu with his woundes bledynge." (56) With a redactor whose references to the Passion are subtle and quickly glossed over, the inclusion of this particular passage in the Shorte Treatyse would seem incongruous were it not for the fact that these meditations accentuate Margery's spiritual progress. Nevertheless, Christ's constant promptings to "thynke on my goodness," do not entirely cure her reckless enthusiasm for corporeal punishment. Instead of desiring death, as she does in the shocking first passage of the treatise, the spiritually tempered Margery volunteers to endure public humiliation:
   I wolde be layde naked vpon an hurdel for thy loue al men to
   wonder on me & to cast fylth and dyrt on me: & be drawen
   fro town to towne euery day of my lyfe tyme yf pu were
   pleased therby, & no mannes soule hyndred, thy wyll be
   fulfylled and not myne. (57)

While her eagerness here may still seem shocking, it is predicated on a series of conditions--if it would please Christ, if it would not be detrimental to anyone's spiritual health, followed by the imperative, "thy wyll be fulfilled and not myne." Christ allows Margery to consider such demonstrations of religious enthusiasm, but in the printed version, she is quickly guided back to the world of quiet contemplation where she should focus on "all the holy places in Iherusalem where cryst suffre bytter payne & passyon." (58) Clearly, the Shorte Treatyse demonstrates that it is within reason to reflect on such ideas provided one does not act upon them.

For a woman whose spirituality was out of bounds in her own medieval context, Margery's behavior is normalized through the process of revision. The redactor pays such careful attention to corrective measures in the Shorte Treatyse, though, that it comes as a great shock to the reader when Christ, who has just told Margery that "pacyence is more worthe than myracles doyng," follows his advice with, "Doughter it is more plesure to me pat thou suffre despytes, scornes, shames, & repreues, wronges, dyseases, than yf thyne hede were stryken thre tymes a day euery day in seuen yere." (59) This comment marks a culmination of violence that has framed the entire text, and although the final excerpts of the Shorte Treatyse do not build upon this level of brutality, they sharply contrast with the love and patience that Christ has otherwise exhibited to Margery. Picking up on his prior declaration that he is more pleased when Margery encounters "despytes, scornes, shames, & repreues, wronges," Christ directs some very harsh criticism at ecclesiastical figures. Compared to the full-length Book, this censure is minimal, but its appearance at the end of the text makes it all the more noteworthy. When Margery protests that Christ's secret counsels should be revealed to "relygyous men & to prestes," he says:
   Nay nay doughter, for pat I loue best pat they loue not, &
   pat is shames, repreues, scornes, & despytes of pe people,
   & therefore they shall not haue this grace, for doughter, he
   that dredeth pe shames of this worlde may not parfyghtly
   loue god. (60)

This anticlericalism does not offer much hope for the layman who relies on these individuals for his or her spiritual well-being. After all, if the clergy is exposed as unable to pursue a respectable Christian life, one is perhaps better served by looking within the self for spiritual salvation. Much like the inception of the Shorte Treatyse, this concluding extract is also greatly abridged, for in the Book, Christ's entire rebuke reads thus:
   Nay, nay dowtyr, for pat thyng pat I lofe best pei lofe not, &
   pat is shamys, despitys, scornys, & repreuys of pe pepil, &
   perfor xal pei not haue pis grace. For, dowtyr, I telle pe he
   pat dredith pe schamys of pe world may not parfytely louyn
   God. And, dowtyr, vndyr pe abyte of holynes is curyd meche
   wykkydnes. (61)

While obedience to the spiritual direction of a confessor is one of the most important Christian duties--especially for women--a devotional text ideally should take care not to expose too much hypocrisy. (62) Considering the religious tensions of the early sixteenth century, perhaps this is not the type of information that early modern editors would want to include.

While the advice found in the Shorte Treatyse may be useful to anyone consulting it, it does not offer any specifics about what to imagine when one "thynkest on [Christ s] passyon." (63) In order to help bolster a minimal Passion narrative, de Worde inserts a woodcut image at the end of the text (Fig. 1). Although Henry Plomer alleges that de Worde did not "trouble himself as to whether the blocks or ornaments he used were suitable to the type of book he was printing," the inclusion of this image indicates that his woodcut selection was not as indiscriminate as once thought. (64) Indeed, Martha W. Driver calls Plomer's assessment "unfair as well as incorrect. We find in many of de Worde's books not only a crude, vigorous skill in copying popular continental picture models but also thoughtful, purposeful presentation of illustration." (65)


Woodcuts were often used by printers to help reinforce a reader's engagement with the text; after all, pictures can often convey ideas more powerfully than words. For buyers who might not have enough time or skill to devote to the practice of reading, a simple flip to the back of the quarto could provide them with the benefits gained from a more studied perusal. (66) Concluding the treatise with this image thus enhances its meaning, for it directs readers to envision Christ's Passion, thereby promoting a successful contemplative practice.

De Worde does not venture another printing of the Shorte Treatyse, but in 1521 Henry Pepwell adds it to a compilation of writings by Richard of St. Victor, St. Catherine of Siena, and Walter Hilton. (67) Allyson Foster claims:
   That this redaction was printed twice within a span of twenty
   years indicates not only that early modern readers were familiar
   with Kempe and her Book, but also that the treatise
   was popular and deemed valuable in some ways for those
   interested in seeking instruction in the practice of contemplation.

While this is a valid point, it may be an overestimation of the Shorte Treatyse's popularity, particularly since best sellers of the early sixteenth century went to print more often than this. Hiltons Scale of Perfection was printed five times between 1494 and 1533, and Nicholas Love's Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ was printed a total of nine times between 1484 and 1530. The stakes of placing Margery Kempe in the company of Richard of St. Victor, Catherine of Siena, and Walter Hilton are thus very high, for what power is to be found in the name of Margery Kempe, a virtual nobody compared to two saints and one of the most popular mystical writers of the Middle Ages?

Early modern readers may have been "familiar with Kempe and her Book," but certainly neither the Kempe nor the Book that current readers of the text recognize. (69) In order to bring her more in line with the other writers in his anthology, Pepwell utilized the gendered politics of religious enclosure, which Margery's ceaseless roaming challenged in the fifteenth century, by introducing her as an "Ancress of Lynn." The irony of the situation is that while this metamorphosis finally gains her the acceptance she had been so desperately seeking during her lifetime, what makes Margery unique and memorable is lost for later readers of the text. In fact, before the Book's rediscovery in 1934, early twentieth-century scholars believed that Margery "was a worthy precursor to that other great mystic of East Anglia: Julian of Norwich." (70) The desire to construct such an historical biography is quite tempting for later readers, but the fictitious, introverted mystic that Edmund Gardner imagines here is as contradictory to the figure found in the Book as night is to day. As a woman who actively shunned the cloistered life, Margery wanted her Book to represent the "gret solas and comfort [of] pe hy & vnspecabyl mercy of ower souereyn Sauyowr Cryst Ihesu." (71) A comparison between the 1501 and 1521 editions shows that other than adding the appellation "Ancress of Lynn," Pepwell made only minor changes to the actual body of the text by adding a few words like '"Our Lord said unto her,' or 'she said.'" (72)

Although Pepwell bears full responsibility for Margery's metamorphosis into an anchoress, the process actually commenced two decades prior to his edition. Whoever prepared the extracts for de Worde had already stripped away the remnants of her personal life, leaving only the most impersonal fragments. That the first redactor composes a didactic treatise whereby Margery is shown how the cultivation of piety can easily be accomplished through quiet contemplation is highly anchoritic in nature. No wonder Pepwell was able to make the leap and re-present the text as a story about a woman completely devoid of sin and safely ensconced in an anchorage.

From the hands of the fifteenth century's anonymous scribes to the black letter of print, The Book of Margery Kempe reached a diversity of readers the likes of which Margery would never have imagined. Bearing in mind the modifications made to the Book, I do not believe de Worde's and Pepwell's treatises were printed because a text resurfaced from the past that matched the changing religious trends of the early modern era. Based on the appearance of the redaction itself, it seems more likely that someone with a later spiritual sensibility carefully selected passages that would guide early modern audiences in a tradition of inward spirituality.

The redactor makes no attempt to conceal the fact that his Shorte Treatyse is an abridgement, advertising that the selections are "taken out of the boke of Margerie kempe of lynn." (73) For the careful reader, "taken out of" implies a systematic editorial process, but how did the redactor select the twenty-eight extracts that comprise the Shorte Treatysel The answer is: very carefully, although they are not particularly representative of the whole of Margery Kempe's earlier and now-familiar Book. Ruth Shklar describes the Book as self-censored in the sense that Margery's amanuensis deliberately provides an "explanation of why the Book took so long to write, preceded by a longer, more self-conscious history of the scribe's deferral." (74) It is certainly possible, then, that the scribe's cautious treatment of the Book influenced the redactor's compression of the manuscript.

This attempt to construct a relationship with the literary past shows that the historical divide between the late medieval and early modern periods was not so great that the distance could not be overcome; in fact, it exemplifies the permanence of medieval texts of devotion. The paradoxes involved in the removal of Margery from the public sphere and her later installment in a fictional anchorage are indeed quite complex, and while these early modern editions may have failed to sell, they were nevertheless successful in creating a version of Margery Kempe that lasted through generations of readers and scholars. Margery may have once been accused of being "a fals strumpet, a fals loller, & a fals deceyuer of pe pepyl," but those moments of transgression are rendered invisible through the transformative medium of print, producing a very different portrait of the life and trials of this unconventional medieval mystic. (75)

Florida Institute of Technology


Allen, Hope Emily, and Sanford Brown Meech, eds. The Book of Margery Kempe. EETS o.s. 212. London: Oxford University Press, 1940.

Bestul, Thomas H, ed. The Scale of Perfection. Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2000. Available at the TEAMS Middle English Texts Series Web site, hilfrl.htm.

Brigden, Susan. London and the Reformation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Bryan, Jennifer. Looking Inward: Devotional Reading and the Private Self in Late Medieval England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.

Chartier, Roger. The Order of Books: Readers, Authors, and Libraries in Europe between the Fourteenth and Eighteenth Centuries, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994.

Despres, Denise L. "Ecstatic Reading and Missionary Mysticism: The Orcherd of Syon J In Prophets Abroad: The Reception of Continental Holy Women in Late-Medieval England, ed. Rosalynn Voaden. Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 1996,141-160.

Dickens, A. G. The English Reformation. London: Fontana Library, 1967.

Dinshaw, Carolyn. Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999.

Driver, Martha W. The Image in Print: Book Illustration in Late Medieval England and Its Sources. London: British Library, 2004.

--. "The Illustrated de Worde: An Overview." Studies in Iconography 17 (1996): 349-403.

--."Pictures in Print: Late Fifteenth- and Early Sixteenth-Century English Religious Books for Lay Readers." In De Celia in Seculum: Religious and Secular Life and Devotion in Late Medieval England: An Interdisciplinary Conference in Celebration of the Eighth Centenary of the Consecration of St. Hugh of Avalon, Bishop of Lincoln, 20-22 July, 1986, ed. Michael Sargent. Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 1989, 229-244.

Eisenstein, Elizabeth. The Printing Revolution in Early Modern England. 2nd ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Foster, Allyson. "A Shorte Treatyse of Contemplacyon: The Book of Margery Kempe in its Early Print Contexts." In A Companion to The Book of Margery Kempe, ed. John H. Arnold and Katherine J. Lewis. Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 2004,95-112.

Gardner, Edmund G., ed. The Cell of Self-Knowledge: Seven Early English Mystical Treatises. Reprint. Middlesex, UK: Echo Library, 2006.

Gillespie, Vincent. "Dial 'M' for Mystic: Mystical Texts in the Library of Syon Abbey and the Spirituality of the Syon Brethren." In The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England, VI, ed. Marion Glasscoe. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999, 241-268.

Goodman, Anthony. "The Piety of John Brunham's Daughter, of Lynn." In Medieval Women: Essays Dedicated and Presented to Professor Rosalind M. T. Hill, ed. Derek Baker. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1978, 347-358.

Grise, C. Annette. "Holy Women in Print: Continental Female Mystics and the English Mystical Tradition." In The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England: Exeter Symposium VII, ed. E. A. Jones. Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 2004, 83-95.

Hellinga, Lotte. "Tradition and Renewal: Establishing the Chronology of Wynkyn de Worde's Early Work." In Incunabula and Their Readers: Printing, Selling, and Using Books in the Fifteenth Century, ed. Kristian Jensen. London: British Library, 2003,13-30.

--. "Printing." In The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume III, 1400-1557, ed. Lotte Hellinga and J. B. Trapp. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999,65-108.

Holbrook, Sue Ellen. "Margery Kempe and Wynkyn De Worde." In The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England: Exeter Symposium TV. Papers Read at Dartington Hall, July 1987, ed. Marion Glasscoe. Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 1987,27-46.

Kerby-Fulton, Kathryn, and Maidie Hilmo, eds. The Medieval Professional Reader and Reception History, 1292-1641. Victoria, British Columbia: University of Victoria, 2001.

Meale, Carol M. "'Oft sijjis with grete deuotion I fought what I mi3t do plesyng to god': The Early Ownership and Readership of Love's Mirror, with Special Reference to Its Female Audience." In Nicholas Love at Waseda: Proceedings of the International Conference 20-22 July, 1995, ed. Shoichi Oguro, Richard Beadle, and Michael G. Sargent. Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 1997,19-46.

Morse, Mary. "'Take and Bren Hir': Lollardy as Conversion Motif in The Book of Margery Kempe." Mystics Quarterly 29.1-2 (March-June 2003): 24-44.

Parsons, Kelly. "The Red Ink Annotator of The Book of Margery Kempe and His Lay Audience." In The Medieval Professional Reader at Work: Evidence from Manuscripts of Chaucer, Langland, Kempe, and Gower, ed. Kathryn Kerby-Fulton and Maidie Hilmo. Victoria, British Columbia: English Literary Studies, 2001,143-216.

Plomer, Henry R. A Dictionary of Booksellers and Printers Who Were at Work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1641-1667. London: Bibliographical Society, 1968.

Sargent, Michael, ed. The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ. Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press, 2004.

Schoff, Rebecca L. Reformations: Three Medieval Authors in Manuscript and Movable Type. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2007.

Shklar, Ruth. "Cobham's Daughter: The Book of Margery Kempe and the Power of Heterodox Thinking." Modern Language Quarterly: A Journal of Literary History 56.3 (Sept. 1995): 277-304.

Summit, Jennifer. Lost Property: The Woman Writer and English Literary History, 1380-1589. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Thomson, J. A. F. "Orthodox Religion and the Origins of Lollardy." History 74 (1989): 39-55.

Watson, Nicholas, and Jacqueline Jenkins, eds. The Writings of Julian of Norwich: A Vision Showed to a Devout Woman and A Revelation of Love. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006.


(1.) Hope Emily Allen and Sanford Brown Meech, eds., The Book of Margery Kempe, EETS O.S. 212 (London: Oxford University Press, 1940), 186:12-16. Citations are referred to by page number followed by line number.

(2.) Indeed, Lotte Hellinga claims, "contemporary texts," or texts written in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, were a distinct "minority during the first century of printing"; Lotte Helllinga, "Printing," in The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume III, 1400-1557, ed. Lotte Hellinga and J. B. Trapp (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 65-108, at 89.

(3.) Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern England, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005), at 24.

(4.) Hereafter The Book of Margery Kempe is referred to as the Book and A Shorte Treatyse of Contemplacyon as the Shorte Treatyse.

(5.) Hope Emily Allen provides detailed information regarding the dating of the Butler-Bowdon manuscript in her introduction to the EETS edition of The Book of Margery Kempe. Having consulted a Mr. J. A. Herbert to date the handwriting, Allen cites from a letter he wrote to her: "I had a good look at the Margery MS. today and came to the conclusion that I could not safely date it (on the handwriting) otherwise than towards the middle of the xv cent. ... I think it more probable that it was written before than after 1450"; Allen, Book, xxxiv. It appears the Butler-Bowdon manuscript may have been a direct copy of the one written by Margery's scribe.

(6.) Sue Ellen Holbrook contends, "Given controversies over modes of devotion and the piety of unenclosed women, and also given Lollard activity in Lynn, Springold might well have preferred a presentation of Kempe less likely to excite trouble than the full BMK's vivid accounts of sacred and profane events"; Sue Ellen Holbrook, "Margery Kempe and Wynkyn De Worde," in The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England: Exeter Symposium TV. Papers Read at Dartington Hall, July 1987, ed. Marion Glasscoe (Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 1987), 27-46, at 40. Allyson Foster follows suit by claiming:
   As the parish priest of Lynn, Robert Springold would
   have been all too privy to the controversy surrounding
   Margery Kempe and her enthusiastic practices.... Springold
   may have felt that in spite of its enthusiastic themes
   and controversial mystical elements, Kempe's Book also
   contained a certain message that would be beneficial
   to lay people, perhaps in particular to laywomen, and
   sought to offer a less controversial version of her text.

Allyson Foster, "A Shorte Treatyse of Contemplacyotu The Book of Margery Kempe in Its Early Print Contexts," in A Companion to The Book of Margery Kempe, ed. John H. Arnold and Katherine J. Lewis (Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 2004), 95-112, at 100.

(7.) Roger Chartier, The Order of Books: Readers, Authors, and Libraries in Europe between the Fourteenth and Eighteenth Centuries, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994), at 13. For more information on de Worde's role as a printer, see Martha W. Driver, "Pictures in Print: Late Fifteenth- and Early Sixteenth-Century English Religious Books for Lay Readers," in De Celia in Seculum: Religious and Secular Life and Devotion in Late Medieval England: An Interdisciplinary Conference in Celebration of the Eighth Centenary of the Consecration of St. Hugh of Avalon, Bishop of Lincoln, 20-22 July, 1986, ed. Michael Sargent (Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 1989), 229-244; and Martha W. Driver, "The Illustrated de Worde: An Overview," Studies in Iconography 17 (1996): 349-403. Also see Lotte Hellinga, "Tradition and Renewal: Establishing the Chronology of Wynkyn de Worde's Early Work," in Incunabula and Their Readers: Printing, Selling, and Using Books in the Fifteenth Century, ed. Kristian Jensen (London, 2003 13-30; and Hellinga, "Printing."

(8.) Chartier, Order of Books, 13.

(9.) Kathryn Kerby-Fulton and Maidie Hilmo, eds., The Medieval and Professional Reader and Reception History, 1292-1641 (Victoria, British Columbia: University of Victoria, 2001), 8.

(10.) Rebecca L. Schoff, Reformations: Three Medieval Authors in Manuscript and Movable Type (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2007), 132. According to SchofF, 135, "the idiosyncratic use of the word" treatyse "could suggest that the same person prepared both treatises for the press."

(11.) Holbrook's groundbreaking essay, "Margery Kempe and Wynkyn de Worde," 28, provides an analysis of the early modern extracts with the corresponding passages from the manuscript.

(12.) Allen, Book, 1:1-4.

(13.) Ibid., 68:7-15.

(14.) Michael Sargent, ed., The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ (Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press, 2004), 161:1-2. Carol Meale notes that a "certain coyness lingers around the question of whether or not Margery actually knew the Mirror"; Carol M. Meale, "oft sipis with grete deuotion I pought what I mizt do plesyng to god': The Early Ownership and Readership of Love's Mirror, with Special Reference to Its Female Audience," in Nicholas Love at Waseda: Proceedings of the International Conference 20-22 July, 1995, ed. Shoichi Oguro, Richard Beadle, and Michael G. Sargent (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1997), 19-46, at 45.

(15.) Allen, Book, 194:5-13. Margery scripts herself as being present not only at Christ's death but also at his birth, playing the role of a nurse to both the Virgin Mary and Christ:
   And pan went pe creatur forth wyth owyr Lady to Bedlam &
   purcbasyd hir herborwe euery nyght wyth gret reuerens, &
   owyr Lady was receyued wyth glad cher. Also sche beggyd
   owyr Lady fayr whyte clothys & kerchys for to swathyn in hir
   Sone whan he wer born, and, whan Ihesu was born, sche ordeyned
   bedding for owyr Lady to lyg in wyth hir blyssed Sone.

Ibid., 19:10-16.

(16.) Textual evidence from the Book reveals that both Margery and her scribe are acquainted with the works of Catherine of Siena, St. Bridget, Elizabeth of Hungary, and Marie d'Oignies. Catherine of Siena's and St. Bridget's texts were heavily abridged in the early modern period. For more information on the print history of Bridget of Sweden and Catherine of Siena, see C. Annette Grise, "Holy Women in Print: Continental Female Mystics and the English Mystical Tradition," in The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England: Exeter Symposium VII, ed. E. A. Jones (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2004), 83-95.

(17.) Unlike The Book of Margery Kempe, Julian's Revelations had a more lively manuscript history. BL Addit. 37790, the only surviving copy of the short version of the Revelations (also known as A Vision Showed to a Devout Woman), is dated to the mid-fifteenth century. Although BL. Addit. 37790's A Vision remains uncorrupted except for marginal annotations, such is not the case with the earliest surviving copy of Julian's full-length Revelations, found in Westminster Cathedral Treasury MS 4. This edition of the Revelations is extensively abridged, much like the sixteenth-century editions of Margery's Book. Changes to Julian of Norwich's works demonstrate that such drastic interventions did not originate with print--the custom started in the manuscript tradition and persisted in the printed medium. Although A Vision or the Revelations did not catch the eyes of any early modern printers, the Revelations is extant in three manuscripts of considerably later dating--Paris Bibliotheque Nationale Fonds Anglais 40, a late sixteenth-century edition; British Library Sloane 2499, a late seventeenth-century edition; and British Library Sloane 3705, from the early eighteenth century.

(18.) Nicholas Watson and Jacqueline Jenkins, eds., The Writings of Julian of Norwich: A Vision Showed to a Devout Woman and A Revelation of Love (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006), 3,75:8-10. Quotations from Julian's text are cited by page number followed by line number.

(19.) Allen, Book, 353, emphasis added. The Shorte Treatyse, STC 14924, can be found on Early English Books Online; however, the EETS edition also includes it in the appendix, which is what I use to cite the text. My citations from the Shorte Treatyse are listed by page number followed by paragraph number.

(20.) Vincent Gillespie, "Dial 'M' for Mystic: Mystical Texts in the Library of Syon Abbey and the Spirituality of the Syon Brethren," in Medieval Mystical Tradition VI, ed. Marion Glasscoe (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 241-268, mayprovide more evidence in light of Schoff's ideas about Betson. Gillespie, 260, claims, "Roger Ellis has pointed out ... when Betson uses the word contemplation he does so in a context of asceticism rather than of mysticism and visionary experience." As I show in this article, the Shorte Treatyse strips away all of the mystical and visionary elements that the Book's scribe goes to great lengths to include.

(21.) Anthony Goodman, "The Piety of John Brunham's Daughter, of Lynn," in Medieval Women: Essays Dedicated and Presented to Professor Rosalind M. T. Hill, ed. Derek Baker (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1978), 347-358, at 348.

(22.) Ibid., 349.

(23.) Allen, Book, 152:33-34; 153:1-26, emphasis added. The lines omitted from this lengthy passage point to specific chapters in The Life of Marie d'Oignies by Jacques de Vitry that validated Margery's unusual behavior. The scribe also references The Prykke of Lofe, Rolle's Incendio Amoris, and Elizabeth of Hungary in defense of Margery's tears of contrition in this chapter.

(24.) Contrary to my analysis, Schoff, Reformations, 122, upholds the notion that de Worde's edition promotes a form of mysticism that is otherwise missing in the printed editions. As she claims, "The excerpts from the Book are edited so that they promote Kempe's authority as a mystic without recourse to the contexts--historical, social, and textual--that are so important to the full narrative in its manuscript form."

(25.) All but one of the five Scale editions originated from de Worde's press.

(26.) Hiltons methodology stresses affective piety's relative impracticality for the development of a successful, inwardly focused model of devotion. For the true contemplative, the path to God is one where the devout must "withdrawe thy thought from al bodili thynge outeward and fro mynde of thyn owen bodi also, and from alle thy fyve wittes as mykil as thou maist"; Thomas H. Bestul, The Scale of Perfection (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2000), 2:1948-1950, available at camelot/teams/hilfr1.htm. Richard Rolle's Contemplacyons of the Drede and Loue of God was also printed by de Worde; however, it did not match the lively print history of Hilton's Scale.

(27.) Thomas H. Bestul, The Scale of Perfection (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2000), 1:49-51.

(28.) Schoff, Reformations, 130. As Schoff, 132, reasons, Betson would be an ideal candidate since he "was actively involved both in the instruction of the nuns and, at the same time, in the dissemination of devotional texts."

(29.) Carolyn Dinshaw, Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999), 146.

(30.) Allen, Book, 353:1.

(31.) Denise L. Despres, "Ecstatic Reading and Missionary Mysticism: The Orcherd of Syon" in Prophets Abroad: The Reception of Continental Holy Women in Late-Medieval England, ed. Rosalynn Voaden (Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 1996), 141-160, at 144; Allen, Book, 30:1-6, emphasis added.

(32.) Allen, Book, 27:20-22, 28:28-35, emphasis added.

(33.) Mary Morse, "'Take and Bren Hir': Lollardy as Conversion Motif in The Book of Margery Kempe," Mystics Quarterly 29.1-2 (2003): 24-44, at 30.

(34.) Allen, Book, 353:2.

(35.) Grise, "Holy Women in Print," 94.

(36.) Allen, Book, 353:3.

(37.) Ibid., 353:4.

(38.) These are paragraphs 2,9,11,12,15,20, 25, and 26.

(39.) Allen, Book, 70:5-17.

(40.) Ibid., 353:3, emphasis added.

(41.) Ibid., 353:5, emphasis added. Even Hilton's Scale of Perfection warns that too much action can cause a false sense of security:<esu>
   He that dooth al the good deedes that he can, as in fastynge,
   wakynge, werynge of the heire and alle othere suffrynge
   of bodili penaunce, or dooth alle the outeward werkes of
   merci to his evene Cristene, or ellis inward as praiynge,
   wepynge, sighhynge, and thenkynge: yif he reste ai in
   hem, and lene so mykil to hem ... he is not meke inow.

Bestul, Scale, 2:1051-1057, emphasis added.

(42.) Allen, Book, 126:18-20, emphasis added.

(43.) Indeed, Holbrook, "Margery Kempe and Wynkyn de Worde," 29, points out that "the [printed] treatise makes the voice of Christ dominate: eighteen percent of the words come from the woman [Margery] as direct or indirect speech; twenty-two percent are in the voice of the narrator; and sixty percent are uttered directly by Christ."

(44.) More important, transferring the power of speech to Christ accentuates a didactic relationship between the two. Christ refers to Margery as daughter a total of twenty-four times in the Shorte Treatyse--nearly once in every extract--and eleven of the twenty-eight passages begin with him addressing her in this manner.

(45.) Allen, Book, 353-354:6, emphasis added.

(46.) Ibid., 354:6.

(47.) A. G. Dickens, The English Reformation (London: Fontana Library, 1967), 46. Religious opposition surfaced from outside England as well. By the 1520s, the Continental beliefs of Zwingli, Luther, and Tyndale began to find favor among dissidents.

(48.) Susan Brigden, London and the Reformation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 79, emphasis added.

(49.) Allen, Book, 354:6.

(50.) Jennifer Bryan, Looking Inward: Devotional Reading and the Private Self in Late Medieval England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 8.

(51.) Ibid., 39.

(52.) In 1524 Wynkyn de Worde, one of the most influential printers of the early sixteenth century, found himself in trouble for printing the allegedly heretical Image of Love. Cuthbert Tunstall, the Bishop of London, was lenient with de Worde's penalty, warning him "not to sell any more, and to get back what [he] had already sold"; Henry R. Plomer, A Dictionary of Booksellers and Printers Who Were at Work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1641-1667 (London: Bibliographical Society, 1968), 94.

(53.) J. A. F. Thomson, "Orthodox Religion and the Origins of Lollardy," History 74 (1989), 39-55, at 52-53.

(54.) Allen, Book, 354:8.

(55.) Ibid., 354:11.

(56.) Ibid., 355:15.

(57.) Ibid., 356:19.

(58.) Ibid., 356:20.

(59.) Ibid., 357:23,24.

(60.) Ibid., 357:27-28, emphasis added.

(61.) Ibid., 158:23-28, emphasis added.

(62.) The Book of Margery Kempe is not the only text that presents a negative point of view about the clergy. Vincent Gillespie, "Dial 'M' for Mystic," 247, discusses Edmund Leversedges Vision, in which "his local secular clergy... emerge [s] from his story with less credit."

(63.) Allen, Book, 357:26.

(64.) Plomer, Dictionary of Booksellers, 8.

(65.) Martha W. Driver, The Image in Print: Book Illustration in Late Medieval England and Its Sources (London: British Library, 2004), 34-35.

(66.) Ibid., 31, notes that woodcut illustration "became an intellectual tool, making the meaning of text more readily accessible" for the reader.

(67.) The full title of Pepwell's text is Here foloweth a veray deuoute treatyse (named Beniamyn) of the myghtes and vertues of mannes soule, & of the way to true contemplacyon, compiled by Rycharde of saynt Vyctore, STC 20972. This is similar to what happened to Julian of Norwich's Revelations in Westminster Cathedral Treasury MS 4. The manuscript, "usually dated to around 1500 on the basis of its handwriting and orthography" is packaged as a spiritual anthology; Watson and Jenkins, Writings of Julian, 418.

(68.) Foster, "Shorte Treatyse," 95.

(69.) Ibid.

(70.) Edmund G. Gardner, ed., The Cell of Self-Knowledge: Seven Early English Mystical Treatises, reprint (Middlesex, UK: Echo Library, 2006), 8.

(71.) Allen, Book, 1:2-5.

(72.) Gardner, Cell of Self-Knowledge, 8.

(73.) Allen, Book, 353.

(74.) Ruth Shklar, "Cobham's Daughter: The Book of Margery Kempe and the Power of Heterodox Thinking," Modern Language Quarterly: A Journal of Literary History 56.3 (Sept. 1995): 277-304, at 285.

(75.) Allen, Book, 112:1-2.
COPYRIGHT 2013 Pace University Dba: Pace University Press
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2013 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Crofton, Melissa
Publication:The Journal of the Early Book Society for the Study of Manuscripts and Printing History
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2013
Previous Article:Marketing the shrine: printed pilgrimage souvenirs, guides, and advertising.
Next Article:The uses of provenance evidence: reconstructing the fifteenth-century library of Scheyern Abbey, Bavaria.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters