(circa 1373-1438) was willful, inner-directed and self-determined--many would say to a fault.
MacDonald vividly brings to life both the world of Medieval England and even more impressively, the heroic Margery Kempe
, whose insights and courage speak to the modern world.
The story is based generally on the life of Margery Kempe
, a mystic and writer in medieval England.
The Book of Margery Kempe
(Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Press, 1996), ll.
The relationship between this dangerous body and conversely safe soul in The Book of Margery Kempe
is most effectively demonstrated in Kempe's search for a renewed virginity.
Adrienne Williams Boyarin's "Sealed Flesh, Book-Skin: How to Read the Female Body in the Early Middle English Seinte Margarete" continues this theme, as do the contributions of Johanne Paquette, who offers a fascinating reading of the Book of Margery Kempe
and the marginalia of the text's red ink annotator, and Jonathan Juilfs, who considers the textual transmission of Julian of Norwich's Revelation of Love from the mid-fifteenth century Amherst manuscript through its first printed manifestation in Hugh Cressy's edition of 1670.
WHEN Margery Kempe
wrote what is widely considered to be the first autobiography in the English language in the 15th century, it is doubtful she expected female confession to be quite where it is today.
Though Dame Margery Kempe
feels the pain of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, she is all but blind to the suffering around her.
Medieval writers, too, engaged in such conferences--particularly, as Cheryl Glenn explains in her examination of the fifteenth-century Book of Margery Kempe
, in cases when the "writer" was in fact illiterate.
Knowledge of such theological controversies, Kerby-Fulton tells us, is an essential, yet largely untapped means for contextualizing the writings of authors including William Langland, Geoffrey Chaucer, Margery Kempe
, and Julian of Norwich.
As late as the fifteenth century, Margery Kempe
was mocked in Germany as a "tailed one" (39-40).
There is an appendix which contains the 'autobiographical' passage from the C-Version (telling us something, perhaps, about the author) and then the usual wealth of 'sources and backgrounds' including relevant passages from the Douai translation of the Bible (the nearest to the Vulgate Langland would have known), extracts from the 'Gospel of Nicodemus', Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe
, the 'Guild Ordinances of St Peter's Church, Cornhill', various literary sources from the period and documents on the politics and history of the fifteenth century.