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Revelation and the Apocalypse in Late Medieval Literature

the Writings of Julian of Norwich and William Langland

This interdisciplinary book breaks new ground by systematically examining ways in which two of the most important works of late medieval English literature – Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Love and William Langland’s Piers Plowman – arose from engagement with the biblical Apocalypse and exegetical writings. The study contends that the exegetical approach to the Apocalypse is more extensive in Julian’s Revelations and more sophisticated in Langland’s Piers Plowman than previously thought, whether through a primary textual influence or a discernible Joachite influence. The author considers the implications of areas of confluence, which both writers reapply and emphasise – such as spiritual warfare and other salient thematic elements of the Apocalypse, gender issues, and Julian’s explications of her vision of the soul as city of Christ and all believers (the fulcrum of her eschatologically-focused Aristotelian and Augustinian influenced pneumatology). The liberal soteriology implicit in Julian’s ‘Parable of the Lord and the Servant’ is specifically explored in its Johannine and Scotistic Christological emphasis, the absent vision of hell, and the eschatological ‘grete dede’, vis-à-vis a possible critique of the prevalent hermeneutic.

288 pages | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

Religion and Culture in the Middle Ages

Literature and Literary Criticism: British and Irish Literature

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"This is a most welcome and timely intervention in the field of late medieval visionary literature. With its careful analysis of the Apocalypse’s influence upon William Langland and Julian of Norwich, Byron-Davies makes a strong case for far more widespread apocalyptic concerns imbricating late medieval socio-religious texts and their epistemologies than have hitherto been considered. Linking exegetical tradition with more immediate socio-religious apocalyptic hermeneutics, this book skilfully unpicks the complex entanglement of theology, eschatology, soteriology, textual poetics and gender construction articulated in both subtle and complex ways in the writings under scrutiny."

Liz Herbert McAvoy, Swansea University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Notes Introduction Chapter 1 A Comparison of the Apocalypse and the Writings of Julian of Norwich Chapter 2 Orthodox and Heterodox Currents in the Writing of Julian of Norwich

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