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The Book of Margery Kempe (Norton Critical Editions) [Paperback]

By Margery Kempe & Lynn Staley (Translator)
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Item Number 158007  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   305
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.32" Width: 5.2" Height: 0.65"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 10, 2000
Publisher   W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN  0393976394  
EAN  9780393976397  


Availability  0 units.


Item Description...
Kempe's work is accompanied by an introduction, a map of medieval England, a Kempe lexicon, and explanatory annotations. "Contexts" collects primary readings that illuminate The Book of Margery Kempe. Included are excerpts from The Constitutions of Thomas Arundel, Meditations on the Life of Christ, The Shewings of Julian of Norwich, The Book of Saint Bride, and The Life of Marie d'Oignies by Jacques de Vitry. "Criticism" includes nine varied interpretations of the autobiography, written by Clarissa W. Atkinson, Lynn Staley, Karma Lochrie, David Aers, Kathleen Ashley, Gail McMurray Gibson, Sarah Beckwith, Caroline Walker Bynum, and Nicholas Watson. A Selected Bibliography is also included.

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More About Margery Kempe & Lynn Staley

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Barry Windeatt is a professor of English at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He translated The Book of Margery Kempe for Penguin Classics.

Barry Windeatt is a professor of English at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He translated The Book of Margery Kempe for Penguin Classics.



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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Inspirational  Sep 23, 2007
The reason why this book is so inspirational is because Margery is very honest throughout about how difficult she finds her spiritual path and her commitment to God, combining this with marriage, children and the persecution and ridicule she faces on her pilgrimages. It is a very rewarding read because of this and one of my favourite books.
 
Interesting and valuable, but...  Feb 21, 2007
I read this for my Later Middle Ages history course, and I must admit that I didn't care for it. The book as other reviewers have said, is written over 20 years in hindsight, and Margery herself must have been an insufferable person whether her experience was true or not. It seemed to me that she brought most of her suffering upon herself and later justified it with her visions...but whether I agree with her experience is really not the point.

As the first known English autobiography, and as an insight to one of the forms that faith took in the Middle Ages (not to mention being from the female perspective) this book is invaluable. But had it not been for class I wouldn't have suffered through the 50 pages of weeping and rambling that I did (we didn't even have to read the whole thing!). Though she was a pilgrim to many holy sites, she notates almost nothing of her external experiences in Jeruselam and Rome - so I don't think that it would be particularly useful to those interested in general history.
 
Kooky Kempe  Jul 11, 2005
At first, I rather enjoyed this book - Margery Kempe is quite kooky. But reading more and more, Margery just became annoying, especially with all her weeping. Is it any wonder that no one wanted to travel with her? Or that she was arrested so often? Did she really think her activities would win people to God? Or am I just guilty of being another one of her persecutors?
 
I expected more...  Apr 12, 2005
Another book I read for class. I knew a little about Margery Kempe beforehand, like she had 14 children. I didn't know that the first autobiography ever written in English was so boring. I felt like Margery repeated herself, over and over. I wanted more details about her life- about her husband, her children, and her pilgrimages. I don't think I would pick this up unless you are specifically interested in early Christianity writings.
 
A medieval woman's spiritual journey through life  May 23, 2004
Margery Kempe lived from about 1373~1440s, and she really LIVED. In this book, accorded by many to be the first autobiography in English, a scribe records the tale of her life, but most specifically the aspects of it that relate to her spirituality. She was outspoken, controversial, courageous, annoying, devout, and eccentric and all of these aspects shine through into the book, even through the cloudy filter of a male religious scribe who may have 'polished' her words to make her sound more orthodox.

Margery began life as the daughter of the mayor of Lynn in England, and made a well-suited marriage. After the birth of her first child, she went mad due to some pent-up guilt and an unsympathetic confessor, and during this madness was spoken to by Jesus. This moment changed her life, and snapped her out of the madness. She continued with her worldly ways with failed attempts at entrepenurism and her delight in the physical side of marital relations... but after aobut 20 years she felt the pull of God and decided she needed to devote herself entirely to him.

Margery went about a long process of procuring chastity from her husband and set off on pilgrimages world wide. She was known for her loud, uncontrollable weeping fits that occured at random and caused many to claim she was a heretic. However, she stood trial before the Archbishops of England, on multiple occasions, and was never once convicted of heresy, and in fact often impressed the higher church officials with her knowledge of doctrine and the Bible. She went through many struggles in her life, but her deity was always there communicating with her or helping her through the cruelty of others, assuring her that all her pain on earth would only increase her joy in heaven.

Some reader bewares: Margery was hated for a *reason*, you can see this in so many of the encounters that she has, it is so easy to imagine how nagging and annoying having a prim, preaching, all-knowing person along with you on a long voyage all day long would be; or how alarming it would be to have some woman in hysterical fits day after day in the middle of your church when you were trying to pray. Margery comes across as arrogant in some ways - but if you had the unshakable knowledge that your deity loved you and you were going straight to heaven, wouldn't you be a tad uppity too? She was humble though, for example she spent weeks living in a hovel serving a beggar woman while in Rome, and she returned home to nurse her dying husband when he had a fall.

If you are interested in medieval studies, in women's history or feminism, in mysticism or religious history, this is a must-read for both its historical significance and its entertainment value. Its being taught at college campuses across the country now, so its gaining in recognition. Don't skip the introduction because its extremly informative, but the chapters can be read out of order because they are only loosely chronological and very short. In her time people either loved or hated Margery Kempe, and the same holds true today, so pick up the book and see which side you're on!

 

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