Meditations on the Life of Christ

The Short Italian Text

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Sarah McNamer
William and Katherine Devers Series in Dante and Medieval Italian Literature
  • Notre Dame, IN: 
    University of Notre Dame Press
    , January
     2018.
     520 pages.
     $65.00.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9780268102852.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.

Description

The Meditations on the Life of Christ was the most popular and influential devotional work of the later Middle Ages. With its lively dialogue and narrative realism, its poignant and moving depictions of the Nativity and Passion, and its direct appeals to the reader to feel love and compassion, the Meditations had a major impact on devotional practices, religious art, meditative literature, vernacular drama, and the cultivation of affective experience.

This volume is a critical edition, with English translation and commentary, of a hitherto-unpublished Italian text that McNamer argues is likely to be the original version of this influential masterpiece. Livelier and far more compact than the Latin text, the Italian “short text” possesses a stylistic and textual integrity that appears to testify to its primacy among early versions of the Meditations. The evidence also suggests that it was composed by a woman, a Poor Clare from Pisa—an author whose work McNamer contends was obscured by the anonymous Franciscan friar who subsequently altered and expanded the text. In bringing to light this unique Italian version and building a case for its origins and importance, this book will encourage a fresh look at the Meditations and serve as a foundation for further scholarship and debate concerning some of the most compelling subjects in Italian and European literary and cultural history, including the role of women in the invention of new genres and spiritual practices, the early development of Italian prose narrative, the rise of vernacular theology, and the history of emotion.

McNamer’s volume will be of significant interest to medievalists, especially those who study medieval women, devotional literature, manuscript studies, and textual criticism. The linguistic analysis expands that audience to include those of a philological bent.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Sarah McNamer is Associate Professor of English and Medieval Studies at Georgetown University. She is the author of _Affective Meditation and the Invention of Medieval Compassion_ (2010).

Add New Comment

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.

Log in to post comments