England, 1255. What could drive a girl on the cusp of womanhood to lock herself away from the world forever? Sarah is just seventeen when she chooses to become an anchoress, a holy woman shut away in a cell that measures only seven by nine paces, at the side of the village church. Fleeing the grief of losing a much-loved sister in childbirth as well as pressure to marry the local lord's son, she decides to renounce the world--with all its dangers, desires, and temptations--and commit herself to a life of prayer. But it soon becomes clear that the thick, unforgiving walls of Sarah's cell cannot protect her as well as she had thought. With the outside world clamoring to get in and the intensity of her isolation driving her toward drastic actions, even madness, her body and soul are still in grave danger. When she starts hearing the voice of the previous anchoress whispering to her from the walls, Sarah finds herself questioning what she thought she knew about the anchorhold, and about the village itself. With the lyricism of Nicola Griffith's Hild and the vivid historical setting of Hannah Kent's Burial Rites, Robyn Cadwallader's powerful debut novel tells an absorbing story of faith, desire, shame, fear, and the very human need for connection and touch. Compelling, evocative, and haunting, The Anchoress is both quietly heartbreaking and thrillingly unpredictable.
The computer revolution is upon us. The future of books and of reading are debated. Will there be books in the next millennium? Will we still be reading? As uncertain as the answers to these questions might be, as clear is the message about the value of the book expressed by medieval writers. The contributors to the volume The Book and the Magic of Reading in the Middle Ages explore the significance of the written document as the key icon of a whole era. Both philosophers and artists, both poets and clerics wholeheartedly subscribed to the notion that reading and writing represented essential epistemological tools for spiritual, political, religious, and philosophical quests. To gain a deeper understanding of the cultural significance of the medieval book, the contributors to this volume examine pertinent statements by medieval philosophers and French, German, English, Spanish, and Italian poets.
A man of infinite jest, Pocket has been Lear's cherished fool for years, from the time the king's grown daughters - selfish, scheming Goneril, sadistic but hot Regan, and sweet, loyal Cordelia - were mere girls. So he can see trouble brewing when Lear demands that his kids swear their undying love and devotion before a collection of assembled guests. Of course Goneril and Regan are only too happy to brownnose Dad. But Cordelia's blunt honesty ends up costing her her rightful share of the kingdom and earns her a banishment to boot. The only person who can possibly make things right is Pocket, who has already managed to sidestep catastrophe on numerous occasions, using his razor-sharp mind, rapier wit and the equally well-honed daggers he keeps conveniently hidden behind his back. He's going to have to do some very fancy maneuvering - cast some spells, incite a few assassinations, start a war or two (the usual stuff) - and shag every lusciously shaggable wench who's amenable along the way. Pocket may be a fool . . . but he's definitely not an idiot.
Julian of Norwich was a fourteenth-century woman who at the age of thirty had a series of vivid visions centred around the crucified Christ. Twenty years later, while living as an anchoress in a church, she is believed to have set out these visions in a text called the Showing of Love. Going against the current trend to place Julian in the category of mystic - a classification which defines her visions as deeply private, psychological events - this book sets Julian’s thinking in the context of a visionary project used to instruct the Christian community. Drawing on recent developments in philosophy that debate the objectivity and rationality of vision and perception, Kevin J. Magill gives full attention to the depth and richness of the visual language and modes of perception in the Showing of Love. In particular, the book focuses on the ways in which Julian presented her vision to the Christian society around her, demonstrating the educative potential of interaction between the ‘isolated’ anchoress and the wider community. Challenging Julian’s identification as a mystic and solitary female writer, this book argues that Julian engaged in a variety of educative methods – oral, visual, conversational, mnemonic, alliterative – that extend the usefulness of her text.
Women, Reading, and Piety in Late Medieval England traces networks of female book ownership and exchange which have so far been obscure, and shows how women were responsible for both owning and circulating devotional books. In seven narratives of individual women who lived between 1350 and 1550, Mary Erler illustrates the ways in which women read and the routes by which they passed books from hand to hand. These stories are prefaced by an overview of nuns' reading and their surviving books, and are followed by a survey of women who owned the first printed books in England. An appendix lists a number of books not previously attributed to religious women's ownership. Erler's narratives also provide studies of female friendship, since they situate women's reading in a network of family and social connections. The book uses bibliography to explore social and intellectual history.
The Ancrene Wisse is a spiritual guide forfemale recluses, written at the request ofthree young anchoresses who were voluntarily enclosed for life within small cells. Withrare sensitivity and discernment, LindaGeorgianna analyzes this complex and skillfully composed treatise and examines its detailed portrayal of the rich, sometimes rewarding and sometimes frustrating innerlife of the solitary. Georgianna sees inthe author's practical and spiritual counsel,ranging from advice on owning a cat to theconfession of sin, an assumption that exterior and interior realities are inextricablybound in the solitary life, which becomes a highly self-conscious journey through human experience. The Solitary Self offers both a reading of this linguistically difficult text and a study of those contemporary intellectual and cultural concerns--particularly the widespread interest in the psychology of sin, confession, and repentance--which help to explain the Ancrene Wisse author's insistence upon self-awareness and individuality in the solitary life.