By Nicole R. Rice
In late-fourteenth-century England, the chronic query of ways to reside the simplest existence preoccupied many pious Christians. One solution used to be supplied via a brand new style of prose courses that tailored expert non secular principles and exercises for lay audiences. those texts engaged with some of the similar cultural questions as poets like Langland and Chaucer; despite the fact that, they've got no longer obtained the severe cognizance they deserve earlier. Nicole Rice analyses how the assumption of spiritual self-discipline used to be translated into diversified literary varieties in an environment of spiritual swap and controversy. by means of contemplating the subjects of non secular self-discipline, non secular identification, and orthodoxy in Langland and Chaucer, the examine additionally brings clean views to undergo on Piers Plowman and The Canterbury stories. This juxtaposition of non secular suggestions and poetry will shape an incredible contribution to our realizing of either authors and of past due medieval spiritual perform and concept.
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Additional resources for Cambridge Lay Piety And Religious Discipline In Middle English Literature
The Abbey carefully targets Translations of the cloister: regulating spiritual aspiration a wide range of lay readers, those who enthusiastically sought spiritual capital through affiliation with religious houses, with a guide that offers them a chance to engage in independent self-discipline and meditation without causing social disruption or evading clerical mediation. establishing the abbey In contrast to the French text from which it was translated, The Abbey of the Holy Ghost targets this expanded audience with a concrete vision of the text’s disciplinary function for a new English “order” of laity.
For adhering to the “religion of herte” means practicing spiritual poverty in the construction of the abbey’s “foundement”: Pouerte . . casteþ out of þe herte al þat is of eorþliche þinges and worldliche þouhtes, þat þei þat haue erþliche goodes, with loue, þei faste not heore hertes þeron. And þeose ben cleped pore in spirit. Of w uche, God spekeþ in þe godspel and seiþ þat heoren is þe kindom of heuene. Beati pauperes spiritu quoniam ipsorum est regnum celorum. The heart becomes a space to be kept clean of sin and sealed off against tempting elements: in the process, it begins to bear a striking resemblance to the native disciplinary space of the anchorhold rather than the luxurious French aristocratic household or the socially fluid beguinage.
In the first part of this chapter, I analyze these texts as newly disciplinary translations of prior works (for the Abbey, its French precursor, and for Fervor Amoris, Richard Rolle’s English anchoritic guides), in order to unpack the workings of their cautious clerical ideologies. In the final section, I show that these reinventions of female cloistered discipline as a literary technique of lay self-correction can shed new light on Chaucer’s Shipman’s Tale (c. ), the fabliau of a merchant deceived financially and sexually by his wife and his friend, a dissolute monk.