The Middle English Mystics: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Middle English Mystics

1st Edition

By Wolfgang Riehle


258 pages

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Hardback: 9780367211141
pub: 2019-07-12
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Originally published as an English translation in 1981, The Middle English Mystics is a crucial contribution to the study of the literature of English mysticism. This book surveys and analyses the language of metaphor in the writings of such mystics as Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton, Julian of Norwich, and in such anonymous works as The Cloud of Unknowing and the Ancrene Wisse. The main emphasis of this comparative and stylistic study is not theological but rather the means by which theological concepts are communicated through language. The book sets the English mystics in perspective by establishing their place in the European mystical movement of the Middle Ages. It shows how intricate the relationship between English, and continental mysticism really is. The book suggests that there is clear links between English and German female mysticism, yet the mysticism is in the main due not so much to specific influences as to the common background of Christian theology and mysticism.

Table of Contents




1 The Public for Mystical Literature in England

2. The Interrelation Between Continental and English Mysticism

3. The Song of Songs and Metaphors for Love in English Mysticism

4. Metaphors for the Preparation for the Unio Mystica

Man’s Withdrawal into Himself; The Soul’s ‘Emptying Itself’ as Prerequisite for the Unio Mystica

The Laying Bare of the Soul

Mystical Annihilation

5. Metaphors for the Way of the Soul to God

6. Metaphors for Speaking About God in English Mysticism

7. Technical Terms for the Mystical Union and for Ecstasy

Unio and Unitas of Man and God

Extasis and Excessus Mentis

The Mystical Raptus

The Familiaritas cum Deo

The Commercium cum Deo

8. The Experience of God as a Spiritual Sense Perception

8.1. The Unio as Mystical Enjoyment of God

8.1a. The Fruitio Dei

8.1b. The Eating and Tasting of God

8.2. Felen and Feling as Mystical Terms

8.3. The Touching of Man and God

8.4. The Unio Mystica as a Smelling and Hearing or Speaking of God

8.5. Excursus: The Significance of Metaphors in Music in English Mysticism

8.6. The Visio Dei

9. The Metaphorical Complex of Having God

10. The Mystical Experience of God as Rest, Sleep, Death and Complete Absorption of the Self

11. The Image of God in the Soul, Mystical Deification and Union in the Ground of the Soul

11.1. The Imago and Similitudo Character of the Soul and its Reformatio

11.2. The Deification of the Soul

11.3. The Ground of the Soul in English Mysticism



Select Bibliography

Middle English Word Index

Index of Names and Titles

About the Series

Routledge Library Editions: The Medieval World

The volumes in this set, originally published between 1938 and 1994, draw together research by leading academics in the area of medieval history and medieval literature, and provide a rigorous examination of related key issues. The volume examines medieval history from the early Middle Ages, right up until the Reformation, as well as the effect of the medieval period on later cultures, such as the Victorians. This collection draws together books on the monarchy, medieval philosophy, religion, art, music, psychology and architecture as well as volumes on medieval archeology. The collection also brings together key volumes on medieval literature of the period, with formative works examining medieval religious literature, medieval legends and oral tradition. The collection also includes titles examining specific poems from the period such as Piers Plowman, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Pearl, as well as volumes on influential writers of the period such as Jean Froissant, John Lydgate and Margery Kempe. This collection brings back into print a collection of insightful and detailed books on the diverse medieval period and will be a must have resource for academics and students, not only of history and literature, but of anthropology, music, psychology and religion.

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