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Julian of Norwich and the Comfort of Eternity

Julian of Norwich and the Comfort of Eternity

Chapter:
(p.49) Chapter Two Julian of Norwich and the Comfort of Eternity
Source:
Staging Contemplation
Author(s):
Eleanor Johnson
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226572208.003.0003

This chapter examines the poetic properties of Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love to show how they are central to her partial performance of divine contemplation. For Julian, as for Cloud, the specific properties of Middle English enable Julian to stage contemplation: she relies on modal verbs and English grammar and syntax to make available a series of meditations on the nature of the divine Trinity—meditations that are crucial to her overall message of comfort. Julian’s staging of contemplation not only relies on Middle English grammar, but also on her careful and deliberate poetic creation of three different de facto time signatures in her work: one encapsulates the feeling of time that human beings have, another encapsulates the feeling of time that Jesus has during his crucifixion, while a third encapsulates the feeling of divine eternity itself. By drawing her readers into these three interlocking experiences of time, Julian helps them feel anew their own participation in the divine Trinity. This staging of the participation in the divine Trinity becomes one of Julian’s most sustained modes of providing comfort—or consolation, in a revisionist Boethian sense—to her readers.

Keywords:   time, eternity, perpetuity, Julian of Norwich, revelations, modal verbs, poetics, prose, Trinity, comfort

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