Women Mystics Confront the Modern World: Marie de L'Incarnation (1599-1672) and Madame Guyon (1648-1717)

By Marie-Florine Bruneau | Go to book overview

Chapter Seven
The Quarrel of Quietism and the
Construction of Modern
Femininity

Historians agree that the Quietist Affair explicitly put on trial the precepts of Western mysticism. I argue in this chapter that it implicitly also put on trial female mystics and their charismatic claims that, precisely because they were a weaker vessel, they were thus more likely to channel the will and the words of God. Through close reading of Bossuet's theological work, Instruction sur les états d'oraison, and his satirical text against Guyon, Relation sur le quiétisme, I show that a new conception of femininity was being elaborated at the same time as mysticism was being evacuated from Western epistemology. I follow this construction of a new femininity through the historical texts written over a period of two centuries after the Quietist Affair. These texts, ignoring available archival or published material that would have vindicated Madame Guyon, conferred instead the status of historical truth upon Bossuet's biased narrative of the Quietist Affair. My argument points to the fact that Madame

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Women Mystics Confront the Modern World: Marie de L'Incarnation (1599-1672) and Madame Guyon (1648-1717)
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