This essay explores the late medieval rhetoric of self-representation and conceptions of audience through an examination of the writings of the fifteenth-century Carthusian monk Richard Methley. Methley is considered as a “public contemplative” — a writer who offers his own contemplative experiences to a greater audience. Because these experiences, unlike visions, involved embodied ecstasies that are inseparable from the contemplative who experiences them, communicating them involved narrating the self as well as the experience. Methley’s position as a Carthusian, simultaneously solitary hermit and communal monk, allowed him to explore the possible relations between self and community. The essay demonstrates Methley’s self-conscious construction of his first-person narration by comparing and constrasting it to one of his most influential models, the fourteenth-century hermit, Richard Rolle, as well as to materials from vernacular traditions — the keeping of spiritual diaries promoted by the Devotio Moderna and the English text of The Cloud of Unknowing.
Monasticism and the Public Contemplative in Late Medieval England: Richard Methley and His Spiritual Formation
Katherine Zieman; Monasticism and the Public Contemplative in Late Medieval England: Richard Methley and His Spiritual Formation. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 September 2012; 42 (3): 699–724. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-1720625
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