Friday Memes and 'The Book of Margery Kempe'

The Book of Margery KempeI thought that today I'd share an upcoming University read with you. As some of you may know, I study Mediaeval English so most of my reads are in Middle English and, if I'm lucky, Old English! To get the difference between the two, Middle English is Chaucer, everything written roughly between the years 1000 and 1500. Old English, my personal favourite, has beauties like Beowulf in its corpus and was spoken and writen between the years 500 and 1000, roughly. Today's book, The Book of Margery Kempe is written in Middle English and I have a week to read it. Wish me luck!
The Book of Margery Kempe is a medieval text attributed to Margery Kempe, an English Christian mystic and pilgrim who lived at the turn of the fifteenth century. It details Kempe's life, her travels, her alleged experiences of divine revelation (including her visions of interacting with Jesus as well as other biblical figures), and her presence at key biblical events such as the Nativity and the Crucifixion.
Book Beginnings and Friday 56 are hosted by Gilion over at Rose City Reader and Freda from Freda's Voice, respectively! Hop over there to join in on the meme fun!

'Here begynnyth a schort tretys and a comfortabyl for synful wrecchys, wherin thei may have gret solas and comfort to hem and undyrstondyn the hy and unspecabyl mercy of ower sovereyn Savyowr Chryst Jhesu, whos name be worschepd and magnyfyed wythwoten ende, that now in ower days to us unworthy deyneth to exercysen hys nobeley and hys goodnesse. Alle the werkys of ower Saviowr ben for ower exampyl and instruccyon, and what grace that he werkyth in any creatur is ower profyth, yf lak of charyte be not ower hynderawnce.' p.41 (previous 40 are Introduction)
If this is your first introduction to Middle English then I apologize. Key to understanding it if it doesn't make a lot of sense is read it out loud because most of the words simply have a strange spelling but are still used nowadays. This is basically Kempe introducing her work, saying it will give comforting to sinners and show them all of God's work for their instruction. I can just feel that this will be a hoot of a read...

'And anoon, as he had seyd thes wordys, she saw veryly how the eyr openyd as bryght as ony levyn, and he stey up into the eyr, not ryght hastyli and qwykly, but fayr and esly, that sche myght wel beholdyn hym in the eyr til it was closyd ageyn.' p.56
Kempe here describes a wife that has abandoned the "right path" but then Jesus comes to her and calls her back to his side. As he returns to heaven, the 'eyr', her eyes are opened again and become bright once more.

So, do you think you would give The Book of Margery Kempe a try? It's one of the first books we know was written by a woman in the Middle Ages, so I'm quite interested to see how it develops although I can feel I'll struggle with it.


  1. Wow, what a challenge to read something in this style! I have seen snippets before, but have never gotten through a book of it. Good luck! Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

  2. Oh my goodness. I would never know what was going on. Thank you for explaining what was said. I love that you can read and enjoy it. I'd love for everyone to check out mine...

  3. I'll bet it's beautiful to read. Good luck! I can hear the excitement in your voice.:)

  4. Oh wow. My mother actually wrote her thesis on Margery Kempe (though I forget the exact specifics) so a year of my childhood was filled with discussions of this book and Kempe in general. Thanks for the flashback!

  5. This would not be my fare but hope you love it!
    Happy weekend!

  6. I've tried reading Middle English before and it's just too much work for really my cup of tea but I would definitely read this book if they had it in an updated English version - I think it would be interesting to see what she says. Thanks for visiting my Friday meme

  7. I don't normally read this type of book but it's got me curious. I need to read outside the box now and then:)

    My 56 -

  8. I think this book would take me 100 years to read. I would have to look up every word. I am impressed you can read it. Wow.

  9. I love that it's one of the first books written by a woman in the middle ages, though it does look difficult to get through. Happy weekend!

  10. Sounds awesome! I am always looking for great history books. Lets me brush up on my middle english


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