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Mysticism and Space

Space and Spatiality in the Works of Richard Rolle, The Cloud of Unknowing Author, and Julian of Norwich

Carmel Bendon Davis

Publication Year: 2011

Mysticism and Space examines the influence and representation of space in the texts of three medieval mystics, Richard Rolle, Julian of Norwich, and The Cloud of Unknowing author

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

The writing and preparation of this book did not, to use a spatial metaphor, happen in a vacuum and its existence would not have been possible without the help and encouragement of several people. To them I extend my deepest thanks. ...


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pp. xi-xii

Note on Translation

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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. 1-20

Space and mysticism are conceptually loaded terms. Through the ages, space has been broadly understood as being either (or both) a receptacle for things or an attribute of the things contained. Though it has been characterized by boundlessness and by infinite divisibility, the actuality of space is elusive in definition. ...

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Chapter One. Physical Space

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pp. 21-58

In the paradigm of the mise en abîme that I have suggested as being an apt figurative analogy for the concept of mystical space, physical space at first might be considered as an “outer” layer of experience in which bodies and material objects exist, social life is enacted, texts are produced and circulated, ...

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Chapter Two. Social Space

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pp. 59-100

Richard Rolle, Julian of Norwich, and the Cloud author did not live and die in a vacuum. Their extant texts bear witness to lives lived in dedication to God, but these lives were firmly rooted in medieval society.1 Like the medieval physical space, the space of that society exhibited, at least on the surface, a pattern of order and conformity. ...

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Chapter Three. The Space of the Text and the Language of Space

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pp. 101-140

Texts are central to our knowledge and understanding of the mystics. The extant texts of Richard Rolle, Julian of Norwich, and the Cloud author who lived and wrote over six hundred years ago serve as witnesses to their authors’ lives, endeavors, mystical experiences, and teachings, and are therefore the principal frames through which we now view them. ...

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Chapter Four: The Mystical Space of Richard Rolle

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pp. 141-176

The mystical space of Richard Rolle is represented by a curious alternation between an apparent denigration of the material (bodyspace) world in favor of the embracing of the spiritual (soul-space) dimension, and a conflation of physical sensation and its spiritual source in the expression of the delight of experiencing God. ...

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Chapter Five: The Mystical Space of the Cloud Author

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pp. 177-212

The mystical space, that space of the intimate experience of God, is present in, and encompassed by, all the strata of the mise en abîme as God is the precipitator and the focus of the mystical experience. However, for the Cloud author, that space is elaborated not as one in which God is met and known but one where God is experienced by “unknowing.” ...

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Chapter Six: The Mystical Space of Julian of Norwich

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pp. 213-248

In terms of Henri Lefebvre’s formulation of space, the mystical space of Julian of Norwich would be best placed, though not exclusively, in the category designated representational space. That space, as explained in the Introduction, encompasses nonverbal signs and images. ...

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pp. 249-250

Space in all its conceptual and perceptual possibilities is an essential aspect of our human experience. However, unlike time, which absorbs our attention to the extent that we mark off our lives in constructed increments of it, space is generally taken for granted. ...

Works Cited

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pp. 251-266


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pp. 267-272

E-ISBN-13: 9780813218465
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813215228

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 647932369
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Mysticism and Space

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • English literature -- Middle English, 1100-1500 -- History and criticism.
  • Space perception
  • Mysticism and literature.
  • Religious literature, English -- History and criticism.
  • Rolle, Richard, of Hampole, 1290?-1349 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Julian, of Norwich, b. 1343.
  • Mysticism -- England -- History.
  • Mysticism -- History -- Middle Ages, 600-1500.
  • Space and time in literature.
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