Nobility and Annihilation in Marguerite Porete's Mirror of Simple Souls

Nobility and Annihilation in Marguerite Porete's Mirror of Simple Souls

by Joanne Maguire Robinson
     
 

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This first book-length study of Marguerite Porete’s important mystical text, The Mirror of Simple Souls, examines Porete’s esoteric and optimistic doctrine of annihilation—the complete transformative union of the soul into God—in its philosophical and historical contexts. Porete was burned at the stake as a relapsed heretic in 1310. Her… See more details below

Overview

This first book-length study of Marguerite Porete’s important mystical text, The Mirror of Simple Souls, examines Porete’s esoteric and optimistic doctrine of annihilation—the complete transformative union of the soul into God—in its philosophical and historical contexts. Porete was burned at the stake as a relapsed heretic in 1310. Her theological treatise survived the flames, but it circulated anonymously or under male pseudonyms until 1946, and her message endures as testament to a distinctive form of medieval spirituality.

Robinson begins by focusing on traditional speculations regarding the origin, nature, limitations, and destiny of humankind. She then examines Porete’s work in its more immediate historical and literary contexts, focusing on the ways in which Porete conceptualizes and expresses her radical doctrine of annihilation through contemporary metaphors of lineage and nobility.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Porete’s work is crucial to the study of late medieval mysticism and Christian women’s spirituality. Not only is this the only book-length study of Porete’s work, but it will set a very high standard not easily surpassed.” — Amy Hollywood, author of The Soul As Virgin Wife: Mechthild of Magdeburg, Marguerite Porete, and Meister Eckhart

“Porete’s work is really the first time that annihilation and nobility, as a mystical motif, is found within a Christian milieu instead of a Sufi one. Eckhart and Kierkegaard kept coming to mind as I read about Porete’s strong affirmation of the status of the individual soul in relation to God, an Eckhartian theme that is nevertheless expressed in a paradoxical language suggestive of Kierkegaard. This book will stimulate further thought and research besides making an important intellectual contribution and adding to our knowledge base.” — Thomas Mether, University of South Carolina–Columbia

Booknews
Porete was burned as a heretic in 1310. Her treatise survived through being ascribed to a male writer; it was reattributed to her in 1946 and this is the first full-length study. Porete preached that by embracing a state on non-willing, non-knowing, and non-having, the believer would come to know God. Robinson (religious studies, U. of North Carolina, Charlotte) discusses the history of certain basic concepts in Porete's theology, particularly the notion of nobility and annihilation; she describes what we know about Porete's life and possible influences. The bulk of the text is devoted to an analysis of her doctrine and its roots and departure from traditional theology. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780791449684
Publisher:
State University of New York Press
Publication date:
05/28/2001
Series:
SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions Series
Pages:
194
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.50(d)

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