‘For he is very curtes’: Courtesy as Phenomenology, Allegory and Ideal in Julian of Norwich
The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (SASMARS)
Julian of Norwich is surely one of the most gracious of mystics. In our service of God, she says, ‘the most worshippe to him of onything that we may don’ is what we ‘leven gladly and meryly, for his love’ (chap. 81, p. 98).1 This glad joyfulness pervades her thought and makes her theology, centred on God’s great love for us, particularly attractive. In this paper I argue that Julian’s understanding of God’s love, and of our joyful human response, is structured and conveyed to her readers largely through her appropriation and adaptation of the traditions of courtesy. I examine her understanding of courtesy as it appears in the relations between God and His human lovers.
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