The relationship between a base text and its analysis in the Middle Ages is often considered tenuous or downright fanciful, an issue that this article addresses with primary reference to Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of Love. It argues that Julian uses the discontinuities within the revelations to thematize both distance and union. Relying on various literary figures to represent discord and harmony at the formal level as well, Julian shows that interpretation ought to make visible its own procedures. Following her own prescriptions, she demonstrates how a text’s meaning depends fundamentally on the process by which one arrives at it. Discord therefore serves as a hermeneutic tool, one that Julian uses deliberately. Understanding her method of interpretation also illuminates the role of dissimilarity elsewhere in medieval commentary.
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Michelle Karnes; Julian of Norwich’s Art of Interpretation. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 May 2012; 42 (2): 333–363. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-1571903
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