The English Prose Treatises of Richard Rolleby Claire Elizabeth McIlroy
Richard Rolle, the 'hermit of Hampole', wrote an extensive body of religious literature that was widely disseminated in late medieval England; but although many of his works have received substantial editorial attention, they have as yet attracted only limited detailed critical analysis, with scholarship largely focused on establishing facts about his life and striking character. This study aims to correct this imbalance by re-examining his English prose works - Ego Dormio, The Commandment and The Form of Living - in terms of their literary form, content and appeal rather than their relationship to Rolle's biography. The author argues that in these devotional works (which appealed to a broad readership in late medieval England) Rolle successfully refines traditional affective strategies to develop an implied reader-identity, the individual soul seeking the love of God, which empowers each and every reader in his or her own spiritual journey. CLARE ELIZABETH MCILROY teaches at the University of Western Australia.
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