The Book of Margery Kempe

( 2 )

Overview

This is the first edition for sixty years of the earliest surviving autobiography in English, the unique account (dated 1436-8) of the extraordinary life, travels and revelations of Margery Kempe, a Norfolk housewife and mother, pilgrim, prophet and visionary.

For the first time the original text is presented in an accessible form for modern readers, with full on-page glossing and a glossary of common words. The unrivalled on-page annotation ...

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Overview

This is the first edition for sixty years of the earliest surviving autobiography in English, the unique account (dated 1436-8) of the extraordinary life, travels and revelations of Margery Kempe, a Norfolk housewife and mother, pilgrim, prophet and visionary.

For the first time the original text is presented in an accessible form for modern readers, with full on-page glossing and a glossary of common words. The unrivalled on-page annotation provides the first commentary of its kind on the Book, bringing together the insights of scholarship on Kempe since the discovery of the manuscript in 1934, and setting the life of a remarkable Englishwoman in the social, political and spiritual context of her times. An introduction provides up-to-date information and contexts for interpretation of a text central to courses on women's studies, women's history, and medieval literature. There is also a chronology of Kempe's life, a helpful summary analysis of the chapters, and a full bibliography, in this new edition of a work now accepted as among the most compelling and significant English texts of the Middle Ages.

The earliest surviving autobiographical writing in English, this narrative tells of a woman's pilgramages through Europe and the Holy Land.

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Editorial Reviews

Fran Shaw
...[A]n oral history of the religious life of an English woman...an account of the awakening of a spiritual love "fixed upon God"....[a book for] the student of history, especially church history, medieval Catholicism, and 14th-century England.
Parabola
Library Journal
This classic, one of the first English autobiographies, chronicles the spiritual life of a very unusual, and illiterate, medieval woman. Not an autobiography in the modern sense, the text--dictated between 1432 and 1436--provides sparse personal detail but does give some insight into the beliefs of this holy woman. Kempe (c. 1373-c. 1440) ran a brewery, married, and mothered 14 children before taking a vow of chastity. In her subsequent pilgrimages she learned much through pious conversations with strangers and gained important insights from her communion with God about how her manner of dress and uncontrolled tears at communion would save her from some "secret" sin. Numerous translations of these writings exist, including the Middle English Memoirs of a Medieval Woman (1983), but this text uses modern English and organizes the chapters chronologically, making for a better story. Recommended for popular religious collections.--Leo Kriz, West Des Moines Lib., IA
Fran Shaw
...[A]n oral history of the religious life of an English woman...an account of the awakening of a spiritual love "fixed upon God"....[a book for] the student of history, especially church history, medieval Catholicism, and 14th-century England.
— Parabola
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140432510
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/1986
  • Series: Penguin Classics Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 315,268
  • Product dimensions: 5.05 (w) x 7.76 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

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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Table of Contents

The Book of Magery KempeIntroduction

Suggested Chronology of the Life of Margery Kempe

The Book of Margery Kempe

Notes

Further Reading

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 14, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Medieval England's Most Controversial Woman Speaks Few female f

    Medieval England's Most Controversial Woman Speaks

    Few female figures were as controversial in the early 1400s as Margery Kempe. Barry Windeatt's translation of "The Book of Margery Kempe" explores the life of this woman who was more than a wife and mother; she was also a businesswoman and religious visionary who dictated the earliest English autobiography known to modern readers.




    In vivid detail, Windeatt describes Kempe's successes and failures. She birthed 14 children before feeling a religious calling (!!) and her brewery business failed. She was "continually hindered by her enemy, the devil, but continued to [perform] all her responsibilities wisely and soberly." Her leadership and vision makes her a unique woman living in medieval times that were not necessarily safe for her.




    Few novels depict courage in woman as deep as Kemp's. Her pilgraimage to the Holy Land, dedication to chastity and the heresy trial she endured in England were quite harrowing. Few books are comparable to "The Book of Margery Kempe"; however, Samuel Fanous' book Christina of Markyate is similar. Readers who are more interested in the heresy trial will also enjoy Robert Bartlett's Trial by Fire and Water: The Medieval Judicial Ordeal.




    No other book delves into Margery Kempe's life as her autobiography does. It emcompasses everything from religion to daily life in modern English, and it does not stray away from her faults. This translation has also been organized in a neat manner, encourging easier reading. This accessible book will fit in great alongside any historical or religious collection.

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  • Posted February 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good General Edition

    Penguin's version of The Book of Margery Kempe stands as a decent introduction to the genre of medieval English Christian mysticism, even if some liberties have been taken. The syntax and sentence structure of the manuscript have been slightly modernized, obviously in an attempt to make the work more accessible to readers unfamiliar with Middle English. Barry Windeatt's introduction serves well as a looking glass through which Margery Kempe herself is placed in her social and religious milieu. For the casual reader, or for the student who is using this edition as a secondary source, this is a valuable tool for peering into the religious mind of the medieval era.

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