For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain

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For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain

For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain

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This slim novel is a pocket epic; you will read it in no time but be thinking about it for ages after . At the last Eucharist our course held at Belsey Bridge Conference Centre in Suffolk, I spoke about the large painting that hung behind the altar in the chapel there. Her visions of Christ – which have long alienated her from her family and neighbours, and incurred her husband's abuse – have placed her in danger with the men of the Church, who have begun to hound her as a heretic.

Victoria MacKenzie's For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain is not historical fiction at its best. I finished reading Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love earlier this year and, apart from a couple of biographical details (she lost her husband and baby daughter to an outbreak of plague, and didn’t leave her cell in Norwich for 23 years), this added little to my experience of her work. Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love is thought to be the first English work we can be sure was written by a woman, while Margery’s The Book of Margery Kempe is considered to be the first autobiography in the English language.God and the devyl ben evyrmor contraryows, and thei schal nevyr dwellyn togedyr in on place, and the devyl hath no powyr in a mannys sowle. Both women felt the burning need to record their experiences, which were in both cases visions of Christ – Revelations of Divine Love in the case of Julian, and an ongoing personal relationship with Jesus: being present at the crucifixion, receiving direct advice and counsel, physical affection, and, indeed, sexual intimacy in the case of Marjory Kempe.

I had wanted to prolong each moment of my life, to get closer to experiencing time as God experiences it: not the instantly dissolving moment, but something larger and more encompassing. It is an extraordinary feat of historical ventriloquism; the women’s inner lives, their religiosity, their sense of place in the world is miraculously conjured … This novel is brilliantly done. She advised the woman to be obedient to the will of our Lord God and to fulfill with all her might whatever He placed in her soul, as long as it did not go against the worship of God and the benefit of her fellow Christians. Victoria MacKenzie’s new novella, Thy Great Pain Have Mercy on My Little Pain, is set in Norfolk in 1413 and imagines a meeting between two real-life women: Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe. Seeking advice from a sympathetic local priest, she travels to Norwich to meet Julian who entrusts her with something precious: the book of meditations written in her cell.Can it be that Marjory – a woman who married a man she didn’t much like, who suffered from post-partum psychosis at least twice, treated by shackling her to her bed away from her child – found some sort of comfort and nurture in her visions that were simply not available to her in real life? Margery’s mysticism may have been born of post-partum psychosis; Julian’s of delirium during illness.

I love historical fiction and this short story is an affecting interpretation of the lives of Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich, women of 15 century East Anglia whose visions of Christ steered the direction of their lives. Margery, in contrast, doesn’t lock herself away, but remains in the secular world, a wife and mother of fourteen. Maybe this is it – the Canterbury Tales trope of a very human attitude to religion, where Friars are openly lewd and everyone laughs about the corruption and hypocrisy of the nevertheless ubiquitous Church.

Again and again, she was told to know her place and not dare to speak on behalf of God or question the clergy. This novella focuses on Julian’s time as an anchoress – she spent the last twenty-plus years of her life in a cell annexed to St Julian's Church in Norwich, with no physical contact with another human being.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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