Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Voices of Mechthild of Magdeburg

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Voices of Mechthild of Magdeburg

Article excerpt

Elizabeth A. Andersen, The Voices of Mechthild of Magdeburg (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2000). 255 pp. ISBN 3-906765-60-1. L26.00.

Mechthild von Magdeburg's thirteenth-century mystical text Das flie[beta]ende Licht der Gottheit is, in a new edition and translation, increasingly being studied by English-speaking academics and students. Elizabeth Andersen thus fills an emerging gap in the market with this first general English language introduction to the text. Addressing newcomers to the Flie[beta]endes Licht and writing as a literary critic rather than as a theologian or historian, Andersen begins by sketching the works of other twelfth- and thirteenth-century German religious women and the Vernacular theology' of other female European mystics, a literary context to which the Flie[beta]endes Licht is both indebted and from which it departs.

The first chapter outlines Mechthild's supposed life as a beguine and later as a nun. Andersen provides plenty of detailed socio-historical background information, primarily on the beguine movement. She here draws on a variety of secondary sources, including lesser-known doctoral dissertations.

Turning to the Flie[beta]endes Licht itself, Andersen then argues for the integral unity of the text, which has been doubted by older scholarship. Using some Bakhtinian terminology, she succeeds in making the text's loose structure and its dialogicity, its constant relation of exchanges of the narrator with God as well as with her contemporaries, appear as strengths with our postmodern penchant for plurality. Three features guaranteeing the Flie[beta]endes Licht's coherence are discussed here and in the remaining chapters: the persona of the author, the literary models of the Psalter and the Song of Songs, and the all-encompassing time scheme. The second chapter traces in detail the roles and self-characterizations of the author/narrator-figure throughout the text (without actually employing narratological terms). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.