A shorte treatyse of contemplacyon: the book of Margery Kempe in early English print culture
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AbstractUntil 1934 the only evidence of The Book of Margery Kempe's existence was in the form of a short redaction of the Book entitled A Shorte Treatyse of Contemplacyon. This redaction was published in pamphlet form by Wynkyn de Worde in 1501, and again in 1521 when Henry Pepwell printed it as part of a small collection of devotional works, The Cell of Self-Knowledge. A Short Treatyse ofContemplacyon is comprised of twenty-eight brief passages that have been extracted from various sections of The Book of Margery Kempe and rearranged to form a practical guide for the process of contemplation. Because the treatise lacks the vivid detail and controversial elements of Margery Kempe's life, focusing instead on the desirability of private, inward forms of devotion, modem scholarship has tended to dismiss it as reductive and ahistorical. This thesis posits that A Shorte Treatyse of Contemplacyon deserves re-examination not only because it can help us speculate further on the audience of Kempe's work in the late fifteenth century, but because considering how The Book of Margery Kempe was reshaped, and to what purpose, can contribute to a more specific understanding of Kempe's place in early modem female piety and literary culture.
Bibliography: p. 115-127