Mechthild of Magdeburg's The Flowing Light of the Godhead is one of the great surprises of German medieval literature. Compiled between c.1250 and c.1282, it is an extraordinary piece of imaginative writing. It integrates visions, auditions, dialogues, prayers, hymns, lyrical love poems, letters, allegories and parables, and draws creatively on features from hagiography, the disputation, the treatise, and magic spells, as the author documents her relationship with God and with her contemporaries.
Within the context of German literary history, it is the first text in the tradition of mystical writing that was neither a translation nor a free adaptation of a Latin text, but rather an independent composition in the vernacular. Also of major significance is the fact that this text was written by a woman, thus offering insights into the cultural and social-historical context of the female religious (Mechthild lived her adult life as a beguine and latterly as a nun) in thirteenth-century northern Europe.
Selections from the text are presented here in translation with introduction and notes.
Dr Elizabeth A. Andersen teaches in the School of Modern Languages, Newcastle University.
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer Ltd
Number of pages: 176
Weight: 354 g
Dimensions: 216 x 138 x 19 mm
Edition: New edition