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Asceticism in late-medieval religious writing: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 114

By Sarah M. Macmillan


The five texts contained in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 114 (c. 1420-50) are seminal to understanding the centrality of asceticism in medieval English devotional literature. This thesis addresses the ways in which Douce 114 can be comprehended as a ‘whole book’ and as such outlines a transformation from extreme bodily mortification (in its first text) to the mortification of mind (in its last). It suggests that the manuscript was envisioned as a spiritual tool, its contents designed to be read in order, and that the central theme of asceticism is a hermeneutical device which guides the (Carthusian) reader’s spiritual development.\ud \ud The introduction provides a history of Christian asceticism while the first chapter contextualises attitudes to the phenomenon in late-medieval England. Chapters two and three examine the themes of Passion devotion and imitatio Christi in the Life of Elisabeth of Spalbeek, chapter four addresses the nature of embodiment and earthly purgatory in the Life of Christina Mirabilis, and chapter five examines the inherent problem of misguided bodily imitation of spiritual exemplars in reference to the Life of Marie of Oignies. In conclusion, chapter six argues that the Life of Catherine of Siena and Henry Suso’s Seven Points of True Love and Everlasting Wisdom, which emphasise the transcendence of bodliness, clarify the true inwardly ascetical nature of the preceding texts

Topics: Z004 Books. Writing. Paleography, PE English, BL Religion, D History (General)
Year: 2010
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