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Literature / The Book of Margery Kempe

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In 1436, a part-time pilgrim, full-time eccentric called Margery Kempe dictated an account of her visits to various iconic landmarks and religious figures. Consequently, this book, The Book of Margery Kempe, is a contender for the first an autobiography written in the English language and a staple of medieval literary studies.

The book mostly consists of Kempe's personal journey, both physically and spiritually, as she tirelessly quests to become an ever more pious individual. Her path takes her to many famous locations (Jerusalem, and Rome) and people (Archbishop of Canterbury, and Julian of Norwich), and her words provide a valuable first hand account of womanhood in the medieval ages.


This work contains examples of:

  • Celibate Hero: Though married and having 14 kids throughout her life, Kempe renounces her sinful lust and vows to become celibate.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: How Kempe is often regarded by readers. Some of this may well be down to values dissonance, and there is the possibility that Kempe is disguising a subtle social commentary.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Possible - after six months of being essentially incarcerated in a store room, Kempe reports being visited by Jesus.
  • Mission from God: Kempe's primary motivation.
  • Tears of Remorse: Kempe's usual reason for crying at the Holy places she visits.
  • Tender Tears: Kempe weeps at practically every opportunity. This is often a source of confusion for the people she has just met moments before.


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