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Paperback The Book of Margery Kempe: A Norton Critical Edition Book

ISBN: 0393976394

ISBN13: 9780393976397

The Book of Margery Kempe: A Norton Critical Edition

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

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...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Good Historical Outline for the Times

Although I lived in Europe for several years, I had not read this book; now I wish I had known about Margery Kempe, and done some research. Dictated by a woman who could not read or write, she was very detailed about her experiences, and I learned quite a bit about the thinking processes, beliefs, and lifestyle of the period. Thoroughly enjoyable, I find it remarkable that it is not on more required reading lists in America. It offers a view not shared by many religious individuals: her crying, wailing, and writhing on the floors of cathedrals and holy places would make her appear unstable, as believed by her peers. However, her conversations with Holy Beings caused beliefs in some. How true to fact is her story? Only the believer, or wannabe believer, can answer that, but the truth is she was a remarkable woman for her time, achieved her goals - if she is believed.


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.

A medieval woman's spiritual journey through life

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 pe

Correcting Previous Mistakes

Just wanted to point out: Margery Kempe was actually extremely wealthy, not "lower class." There is evidence that John Kempe married her for her money. She was the operator of a brewery, which also provided a great deal of income. Lower class medieval women usually didn't have the means to travel around evangelizing.

A Good Look at Medieval Life

I give this book five stars primarily because it is such an irreplaceable classic. One does not award 400 year old autobiographies anything less. Margery Kempe presents a realistic look at the life of an average medieval woman of the upper class, apart from any religious content that the book possesses. I would caution readers that Margery is prone to wailing outbursts on many occasions that most reviewers fail to mention. If one doesn't mind her obnoxious behavior, then Margery Kempe's autobiography can be enjoyed on many levels, from pure entertainment to spiritual enlightenment.
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