This is a review of The Complete Julian of Norwich (Paraclete Giants) - A translation by Fr John Julian, OJN.
I do not want to detract from the very good reviews already made and any that may follow. On the whole this is a very good book. At the same time, lack of complete punctuation is making my reading a bit hard going, as I need to read some bits over again to understand them properly as opposed to in the sense of doing lectio Divina with them, which is otherwise most valuable.
I also regret the tendency for the writer to want to reflect some of the original quirks of style from the original texts, which tend to obscure some of the meaning for me, also sometimes needing the commentary on the left hand page to clarify things, which would otherwise not be needed. Although some of the words that he has chosen to stay with, once understood, do give a pleasant flavour of the original without detracting from the text. I would welcome a revision of his text to make it fully up to date in its expressions so that one is not so conscious of the antiquity of the original writing where it tends to reflect the original sentence structure and idioms etc. While academics would be quite happy with this tendency among translators of books like these, it would be helpful if they could use their abilities to make their editions much more readable to those who may perhaps not be so gifted as they are. I do realise that it is not easy and one has the problem of deciding between a more direct translation as opposed to a sense translation which ends up as more of a paraphrase, but surely a version that is more accessible to the non-academic that conveys the wisdom of the book much better should be a priority.
The writer's personal theological stance shows through where in one of his comments, he reflects that something Mother Julian says does not reflect the Roman Catholic idea current that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, should be proclaimed co-redemptrix. While I agree with him, although I understand where the RCC is coming from on this, I do not feel that this book is the place to make such comments as it detracts from the purpose of Mother Julian's writing and his interest in helping us to understand her better.
For those who might like to check the statements made by Mother Julian against the Bible, or gain more understanding of what she says in the light of it, I feel that it would be very useful if the editor could manage to cross reference more of the text with relevant Bible passages.
This book is quite bulky and a bit on the heavy side, which makes it a bit uncomfortable for reading in some circumstances. While the text is of a readable size, which was probably what the publishers wanted, and good, I still feel that without spoiling that, the publishers could have produced this book in a smaller more compact size, perhaps using lighter paper.
This translation is older than I realised, having been published before in Love's Trinity: A Companion to Julian of Norwich; Long Text with a Commentary and some might prefer that version, which also has a commentary by another writer. Apart from being minus the commentary Fr John-Julian has also published this text in A Lesson of Love: The Revelations of Julian of Norwich(unabridged). That edition is more suitable for devotional reading as the text is laid out more like poetry to help the sense of the writing come through better and readers might consider foregoing the commentary in order focus more on the text. Perhaps a future edition of this book could make use of the same poetic style of layout, even though it might tend to make the book a bit more bulky. Like this edition though, I feel that at a similar price it is expensive, as this one is, and being only slightly smaller, an opportunity of producing a lighter more pocketable version has most sadly been missed. If the only way of producing this and other books in a more handy size would be to use smaller text, then at least these days one can use reading glasses, as I do, and on balance, I would prefer that.
But for these views I would love to have rated this edition much higher, bearing in mind the time that Fr John-Julian must have taken in producing this book and for which I thank him.
An alternative translation of Revelations of Divine Love is The Revelation of Divine Love in Sixteen Showings Made to Dame Julian of Norwich (Triumph Classics). This is a more modern and more readable translation, by M L del Mastro, (which would also be wonderful in a smaller format, although it is thinner). Be careful of the reviews though, unfortunately Amazon has included a whole lot of reviews from other translations of Julian of Norwich, which give a misleading idea of the value of the del Masto's translation. (I do wish that Amazon would not do this kind of thing, which they also tend to do with the book previews).