London: Burns & Oates, 1961. First edition thus. Octavo, original green cloth, green top edge, original dust jacket. A bright, about-fine copy. Item #588
"THUS JESUS CHRIST, WHO DOETH GOOD AGAINST EVIL, IS OUR VERY MOTHER" Superb "Orchard Books" edition of Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love, a new translation of the mystical "Shewings" of the medieval anchoress. The late fourteenth-century witnessed a "proliferation of new forms of religious expression. Much of the new spirituality emerged from lay people aspiring to lives of holiness outside of conventual religious orders. The yearning for a personal, experiential faith contributed to a flowering of nonmonastic Christian mysticism." (Robert Ellsberg, All Saints). Much of what we know about the mysterious Julian comes from the first copyist of the manuscript: "Here is a vision shewn by the goodness of God to a devout woman whose name is Julian. She is a recluse at Norwich and is living yet in this year of our Lord 1413."
Despite the relative anonymity of Julian's life history, the details of the revelations are quite clear. Julian was ill with fever when "suddenly the revelations began, it was four o'clock on the morning of May 8, 1373 when the revelatory experiences began, and three in the afternoon when they ended." (Frank Magill, Masterpieces of Christian Literature). The brief Preface outlines the printing history of the Revelations based on the three extant manuscripts, a sixteenth-century copy in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and the two seventeenth-century Sloane manuscripts in the British Museum. Of the several printed editions "since Dom Serenus Cressy modernized the version of the Paris MS. in 1670, there has not yet appeared an edition which takes account of the twofold MS. tradition of the so-called Longer Version."
The text, arranged in eighty-six short passages, follows a lengthy and valuable Introduction by James Walsh, S.J. Fr. Walsh's translation preserves Julian's late medieval prose, "close enough to sixteenth-century English (on which we were all brought up through Shakespeare, if not the Authorized Version of the Bible) to be intelligible to the modern reader with the minimum of change." Julian clearly resonates with the modern reader: "There are many themes in Julian's writings that speak directly to the heart of contemporary spirituality. Among these is her frequent recourse to the feminine images of God. Jesus, she says, is our true Mother, who bears us in the womb of his love and nourishes us with his own flesh." (Robert Ellsberg). Part of the publisher's "Orchard Books" series of Christian classics of contemplation. Other series titles, listed on the back panel of the dust jacket, include: The Rule of St. Benedict, The Cloud of Unknowing, The Scale of Perfection, and The Interior Life. Approbations.