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Julian of Norwich and Her Children Today: Editions, Translations, and Versions of Her Revelations

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Abstract

The viability of such concepts as “authorial intention,” “the original text,” “critical edition,” and, above all, “scholarly editorial objectivity” is not what it was, and a study of the textual progeny of the revelations of Julian of Norwich—editions, versions, translations, and selections—does little to rehabilitate them. Rather it tends to support the view that a history of reading is indeed a history of misreading or, more positively, that texts can have an organic life of their own that allows them to reproduce and evolve quite independently of their author. Julian’s texts have had a more robustly continuous life than those of any other Middle English mystic. Their history—in manuscript and print, in editions more or less approximating Middle English, and in translations more or less approaching Modern English—is virtually unbroken since the fifteenth century. But on this perilous journey, many and strange are the clutches into which she and her textual progeny have fallen.

Keywords

  • Critical Edition
  • Diffi Culties
  • Medieval Text
  • Chapter Heading
  • National Biography

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This essay updates the study first published in 1995 of the transmission of Julian of Norwich’s texts from the earliest manuscripts to present-day printed editions.

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Notes

  1. On the Amherst Manuscript as a whole, see now the excellent study by Marleen Cré, Vernacular Mysticism in the Charterhouse: A Study of London, British Library, MS Additional 37790, The Medieval Translator / Traduire au Moyen Age 9 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2006).

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  2. See further Edmund Colledge, O.S.A., and James Walsh, S.J., introduction to A Book of Showings to the Anchoress Julian of Norwich: Part One: Introduction and the Short Text, Studies and Texts 36 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1978), pp. 9–10

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  3. Marion Glasscoe, introduction to Julian of Norwich, A Revelation of Love (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1976), p. viii

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  4. On Cressy, see now Patricia C. Brückmann, “Cressy, Hugh Paulinus (1605–1674),” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)

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  5. George Hargreave Parker, preface to Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love, Made to a Devout Servant of Our Lord Called Mother Juliana (Leicester: Crossley, 1843), p. viii

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  6. Henry Collins, Difficulties of a Convert from the Anglican to the Catholic Church (London: Dolman, 1857), p. 14.

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  7. Henry Collins, preface to Revelations of Divine Love, Shewed to a Devout Anchoress, by Name, Mother Julian of Norwich (London: T. Richardson and Sons, 1877), p. xiv

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  8. Grace Warrack, “Notes on Manuscripts and Editions,” in Revelations of Divine Love Recorded by Julian, Anchoress at Norwich, Anno Domini 1373 (London: Methuen, 1901), p. xiii

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  9. See further Nicholas Sagovsky, “Tyrrell, George (1861–1909),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)

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  10. Georgia Ronan Crampton, introduction to The Shewings of Julian of Norwich (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute, 1994), pp. 19–20

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  12. George Congreve, preface to The Shewing of a Vision, Being Extracts from “Revelations of Divine Love” Shewed to a Devout Anchoress by Name Mother Julian of Norwich (London: Elliot Stock, 1915), pp. viii–ix

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  13. Dom Roger Hudleston, O.S.B., introduction to Revelations of Divine Love, 2nd ed. (London: Burns and Oates, 1952), p. viii

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  14. James Walsh, S.J., and Eric Colledge, introduction to Of the Knowledge of Ourselves and of God: A Fifteenth-Century Florilegium (London: A.R. Mowbray, 1961), p. xviii

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  16. Edmund Colledge, O.S.A., and James Walsh, S.J., introduction to Julian of Norwich, Showings (New York: Paulist Press, 1978), p. 17

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  17. The debate over the composition dates of the various Julian versions would furnish material for a separate article. See Nicholas Watson, “The Composition of Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of Love,” Speculum 68 (1993): 637–83.

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  18. The Showings of Julian of Norwich, ed. Denise Baker (New York: W.W. Norton, 2005).

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  19. Watson and Jenkins, preface to Writings of Julian of Norwich: A Vision Showed to a Devout Woman and A Revelation of Love, ed. Nicholas Watson and Jacqueline Jenkins (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006), p. x

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  20. Watson and Jenkins, introduction to Writings of Julian of Norwich: A Vision Showed to a Devout Woman and A Revelation of Love, ed. Nicholas Watson and Jacqueline Jenkins (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006), pp. 39–40

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© 2009 Sarah Salih and Denise N. Baker

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Barratt, A. (2009). Julian of Norwich and Her Children Today: Editions, Translations, and Versions of Her Revelations. In: Salih, S., Baker, D.N. (eds) Julian of Norwich’s Legacy. The New Middle Ages. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230101623_2

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