By G. C. Thornley, Gwyneth Roberts
A survey of the English prose, poetry and drama of serious Britain and eire from earliest instances to the Nineteen Eighties.
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49 Kempe’s threat to clergy and lay folk alike clearly came from her lack of integrity and intactness—married, 14 children, running about the world with all her “unsealed” female openings, all the while proclaiming a special communion with God. It was an obvious affront to the Church’s carefully contrived notion of the female body and the female’s relationship to God. Lochrie contended “that woman was identified not with the body but with the f lesh, lesh which stood for all the heaving xxxiv P ROY M power allied against the spirit.
Margery Kempe’s as yet unnamed sixteenth-century rubricators/editors made additions, deletions, glosses, symbolic drawings, and otherr enhancements to the Mount Grace copy of Kempe’s Book. ”51 The marginal and interlineal rubrications in the Carthusian manuscript of Kempe’s life writing eventually T H E C A RT H U SI A N CON N EC T ION 11 go beyond those that might be made for simple contemplative enhancement of her Book by Carthusian readers. Editorial evidence late in the manuscript of Kempe’s Book places at least one Carthusian editor’s work in the political and religious unrest off the 1530s.
She was sought out for her good counsel, for her special relationship with God. Margery Kempe battled with her conf licting texts—woman claiming spiritual authority for herself, claiming union with God, avowing Christ as Bridegroom andd Confessor—while living in the world. She often suffered serious physical pain and sickness, spiritual torment, and fear as she struggled to remove the human text and replace it with the spiritual one. As the animal “f lesh” of the palimpsest was scraped and prepared to make a writing surface, surface then written on, on scraped, scraped and a xxxvi P ROY M new text written, perhaps another scraping for yet another text, so Margery Kempe, literally, scraped her body, beat it, and deprived it to prepare it for the text of the mystic and visionary.
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