Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Speculum inclusorum/A Mirror for Recluses: A Late-Medieval Guide for Anchorites and Its Middle English Translation

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Speculum inclusorum/A Mirror for Recluses: A Late-Medieval Guide for Anchorites and Its Middle English Translation

Article excerpt

Speculum inclusorum/A Mirror for Recluses: A Late-Medieval Guide for Anchorites and its Middle Hnglish Translation, ed. E. A. Jones, Exeter Medieval 'Texts and Series (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013). lxxix + 157 pp. ISBN 978-0-85-989885-0. £75.00. The publication by the Exeter Medieval Texts and Series of E. A. Jones's edition of the Speculum inclusorum/A Mirror for Recluses makes available to a large audience a substantial anchoritic text that had hitherto received little attention. Indeed, apart from the editor's own fine publications which led ultimately to this edition, some of the most recent publications on anchoritic texts touched only lightly upon this text, and sometimes not at all.

The introduction situates the Mirror within the larger tradition of anchoritic writings in late medieval England, raising crucial issues as to the status of anchoritic literature within the larger corpus of religious literature, as well as asking fundamental questions about, for instance, the concept of 'rule' in anchoritic writings. The editor is acknowledged to be one of the finest connoisseurs of the English anchoritic tradition in England and it shows in this remarkable survey which addresses the question of men and the anchoritic tradition (two or three thirteenth-century rules, two fourteenth-century ones), which cannot be overlooked, even if female anchoritism is markedly vigorous in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century England. The evidence provided by Jones shows that anchorites, more than anchoresses, might have had a previous career in a monastic community; another significant difference is that most anchorites were priests. …

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