Laura Kalas
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The materialisation of Book II
Elements of Margery Kempe’s world
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This chapter argues for the synchronicity of two seemingly disparate aspects of The Book of Margery Kempe: the authority and genesis of Book II, and Margery Kempe’s maturing interaction, in Book II, with the natural world. The chapter, drawing on ecocritical theory, proposes that these two, distinct phenomena concurrently ‘materialise’. The first half of the chapter explores the greater vocal authority of Book II, which relies less upon memory and mythology than Book I, and more upon recent physical and spiritual interactions with the world during a specific life-moment in older age. There exists a synchronicity between the writing of Book II and Margery Kempe’s formal admittance into the prestigious Guild of the Holy Trinity in King’s Lynn by April 1438. The second half of the chapter explores Kempe’s relationship with the natural world in Book II. Donna Haraway has called for earth’s inhabitants to undergo a sympoietic ‘worlding-with’ all beings that will create new narratives for earthly flourishing. Kempe’s negotiations with the elements of nature show a holy woman inscribed not only into the Guild record but simultaneously into a world of just such a natural connection. Kempe narrates each episode with a distinct and immediate auctoritee and concludes with prayers that reiterate the ordo creationis. As designated ‘creatur’ of the Book, Kempe concludes the text with a richer understanding of Creation and her privileged place within it.

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