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Re-Reading Margery Kempe in the 21 st Century

Valentina Castagna

This work provides an analysis of The Book of Margery Kempe and the figure of Margery Kempe herself, with a specific focus on contemporary critical re-readings as well as creative re-writings. The author re-reads the text making reference to recent theoretical conceptualizations and taking into consideration the figure of Margery Kempe as mystic, preacher and pilgrim. This book looks into the multiple layers of interpretation that this autobiography from the 15th century allows today, highlighting the importance of The Book of Margery Kempe as the first English autobiography, unique surviving example of travel text by a female pilgrim, and socio-historical document. At the same time, the author questions the complex identity conflicts which emerge in Margery Kempe’s challenge of traditional social norms. She takes her analysis one step further by reading the text in the light of new critical approaches and by taking into exam the 1985 radio play The True Tale of Margery Kempe by contemporary Anglo-German novelist Eva Figes.

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