The Insanity of Margery Kempe

The introduction to The Book of Margery Kempe mentions that she was criticized for her lunacy. I must say I completely agree. I enjoyed reading it because I was quite amused by how utterly crazy I found her. I think it was very interesting that this was the first autobiography written in English, because based on the fact that all of Margery’s sufferings were derived from her own actions it follows logically that she deems her life important enough for an autobiography. The entire book of Margery Kempe is about her, and her direct relationship with God. As far as I can tell she does nothing in way of charitable giving and barely mentions others except to pass judgment, like in the case of the Archbishop. The incessant sobbing was also very frustrating to read about, and the other people around her in her book I’m sure felt this sentiment quite strongly. It seemed to me that Margery’s tribulations in life were for the most part self created. Her religion also seemed to be quite convenient to her, the devil taking possession whenever she no longer wanted to be held to a religious standard.

Based on this blog post it seems that I was very critical of this reading. However I appreciated it’s worth and historical context, but found Margery herself particularly irksome.

1 thought on “The Insanity of Margery Kempe

  1. She does tell us that others encouraged her to write down (or, have written down by another) her story, so if we take her at her word, she wasn’t the only one who thought it was important. Margery’s tribulations were definitely self-sought, as were Julian’s, since she requested the very illness and trauma she later experienced. I’m not sure about the her ever wanting not “to be held to a religious standard”–she is full of remorse and troubled by her inability to continue in her conviction, right?

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