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The Mystical Utterance and the Metaphorical Mode in the Writings of Marguerite d'Oingt and Marguerite Porete

MATTHEWS, RACHAEL,VICTORIA (2014) The Mystical Utterance and the Metaphorical Mode in the Writings of Marguerite d'Oingt and Marguerite Porete. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The shared conceptual underpinnings of contemporary metaphor theory and Christian mystical expression form the basis of this study of the works of two very different fourteenth-century French mystics, Marguerite d’Oingt (c.1240-1310) and Marguerite Porete (d.1310). The former, a Carthusian prioress, wrote a series of vivid visionary narratives, the Pagina meditationum, the Speculum, and Li via de Seiti Biatrix, but, to date, has been the subject of little scholarly attention. The latter, meanwhile, is perhaps best known for her condemnation for relapsed heresy and her death at the stake in Paris, on account of her radical mystical text, the Mirouer des simples ames.

These two women’s writings present very different examples of late medieval mystical expression. Nevertheless, the two are intimately connected in the sense that both oeuvres are driven by a desire to express their respective experiences of the mystical presence of God. What precisely is meant by ‘mystical experience’ constitutes this mode of expression’s fundamental paradox: by its very definition, the perfection of divine encounter lies beyond the scope of human communication. Metaphor’s capacity for (partial) revelation in circumstances where other modes of communication fail, however, suggests that when applied as a hermeneutic device, theoretical perspectives of metaphor provide a fresh interpretative framework with which to explore the more enigmatic aspects of mystical thought.

Drawing on a number of modern theoretical approaches, including those of Paul Ricoeur, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, and Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner, this investigation explores the extent to which metaphor’s conceptual and cognitive underpinnings engage with, and potentially unlock, the sensitivities of Marguerite d’Oingt’s and Marguerite Porete’s post-experiential accounts of mystical phenomena. To this end, metaphor may be seen to represent mysticism’s cognitive analogue, a means of effecting linguistic and cognitive transformation impossible to express through literal language alone.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Mysticism; Cognitive Metaphor Theory; Medieval Women; Spiritual Writing; George Lakoff; Paul Ricoeur; Marguerite d'Oingt; Marguerite Porete
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 May 2014 14:16

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