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Julian of Norwich: A Very Brief History (Very Brief Histories) Paperback – 19 Oct 2017
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In this lively and appealing introduction, we are enabled to meet a figure who is not a stereotypical 'mystic' from an alien cultural world, but a vigorous, warm and deeply imaginative writer, quietly but firmly turning inside out a number of conventional understandings of the nature and work of God. Nina Ramirez presents a Julian who is very much of her own age, yet for that very reason speaks to us as a three-dimensional personality. Source: Rowan Williams
A delight because it gives such a great understanding to the life and times of this inspired woman. Source: Towards Wholeness, Spring 2017 issue
Concise historical introduction to Julian of Norwich and her continuing influence on the world and how we see itSee all Product description
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The book’s principal strength is its brevity. It says virtually everything that needs to be said for the beginner. It is generally well written, so it will be a quick read as well as brief. Chapter 3 on the inherent themes in Julian is particularly good.
The weaknesses are few. Occasionally the reader will long for a good editor. In a book of fewer than a hundred pages, it’s amazing how often we’re told that Julian lived in Norwich, that it was an important city, that she is medieval, that two recensions exist of the texts, and so on. There are a few howlers: page 14/15 seems to say Edward III was king at Agincourt yet the battle was in 1415 and he died in 1377. ‘In the word but not of the world” comes from the Bible, and not Grace Jantzen! The prose is sometimes a bit Latinate and occasionally downright clotted. But it’s worth the read nonetheless.
I’m personally not sure of Ramirez’s idea that Julian can be identified from this distance of time. And it’s unwise to ignore the near-universal medieval practice of giving a women religious a man’s name, and vice versa. The simplest and best explanation of Julian’s name is to say an anonymous lady became an anchoress in St Julian’s Church and so took the Church’s dedication as her name is, or that posterity gave it her.
Any omissions? The only obvious oversight is the failure to mention some of the better previous editions. Evelyn Underhill’s century-old edition is peerless despite its age and has a superb introduction that displays an insider’s insight; and Clifton Wolters’ translation (in Penguin Classics) is probably the best, and his introduction is essential reading for background context and understanding.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't wait to read The private life of saints!!
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