- Paperback: 269 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (January 19, 1983)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060909927
- ISBN-13: 978-0060909925
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,734,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Memoirs Of A Medieval Woman: The Life And Times Of Margery Kempe Paperback – January 19, 1983
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I was not disappointed. Margery Kempe, a real "live" medieval woman (dates 1373-c. 1438) was an ecstatic, a visionary, a far-traveled pilgrim, mother to fourteen children, and, in the opinion of many, a complete loon. She talked to Jesus and God Almighty on a regular basis, though the latter never got beyond the most domestic of advice and assurances. Some think she was epileptic or schizophrenic, though she displays far too much savvy and good health to convince me that either was the case. Let us just say she was "unique."
Most remarkably for an illiterate woman is the fact that she traveled so far while relying only on her own wit and resources (excepting the occasional begging) and before the end of her life managed to dictate her memoirs to a priest. As a result, there is possibly no medieval woman we know more intimately than Margery Kempe.
And what a life! Travels aside, she was hailed as a holy woman and hauled before the authorities for heresy (though she was vouchsafed orthodox time and time again). Everywhere she went she antagonized and irritated people, but this did not stop significant crowds of well wishers from showing up outside of her prison to support her. She was filled with contradictions--a would be martyr, saint and megalomaniac. In short, she was infinitely human and flawed.
This book is a well informed narrative based on her memoirs. It gives us a great idea of Margery's life and times, putting everything within its historical context. A must read for anyone interested in the Middle Ages.
Her courage and fortitude are truly admirable. Ms. Collis has done a masterful job of weaving quotes from Margery's autobiography with modern English prose to present a lucid and most enjoyable account of this lady. Definitely a two thumbs up book!
The only bad part of the book was Margery. If I had been one of the Pilgrims she had traveled with, I probably would have been the one to finally throw her overboard. Even though I would never want to meet someone like Margery and would go nuts if I did, she was truly an amazing person. Amazing from the perspective that people actually believed in her and she let herself believe in all of her delusions. It was amazing that she could get all those priests to believe she really talked to God. It shows how truly superstitious the Middle Ages were. It was also amazing to see how divided the Catholic Church was. You had Fransiscan monks against her and undermining an Archbishop. It was also amazing how little she seemed to care about her husband and children that they were hardly ever mentioned. The only real use she had for her husband was for the occasional logistics. This was truly a wonderful book for the inside look it gave to a Medieval woman's mind and her times.
Picture being on an extended group tour with a small group of opinionated and intolerant people, most of who can't stand you, and you may have an idea of this experience. On the other hand, some people really are difficult to be around. After reading this book, pilgrimage of the middle ages is no longer just a fact of history. It puts a real face on a pilgrim.