Following Maggie Ross’s challenge to read the mystics in their original, untranslated texts, I thought I’d highlight some of the editions of both Julian of Norwich’s text and The Cloud of Unknowing that can be acquired in the original (or slightly modernized) form. Yesterday I posted a query to Maggie’s blog to get a sense of which of these texts she would recommend, and the ones she endorses I’ve set in bold type. So, check these books out…
The options are greater with Julian’s text. First there is the Norton Critical Edition of the Showings of Julian of Norwich, edited by Denise Baker. It’s attractively priced and features the kind of notes and supplemental material that can be found in any NCE title. If you’d rather have a slighly modernized version of the text, consider the University of Exeter Press edition of A Revelation of Love edited by Marion Glasscoe. This is the edition that Maggie Ross recommends, saying “None of the others can touch it.” As for other available editions, the “TEAMS Middle English Text Series” from Western Michigan University’s Medieval Institute Publications includes The Shewings of Julian of Norwich, edited by Georgia R. Crampton. If you want to get a bit geekier, the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies published a two volume edition (featuring both the “short” and “long” texts) of A Book of Showings to the Anchoress Julian of Norwich, edited by Edmond Colledge, O.S.A. and James Walsh, S. J. It’s out of print but worth tracking down. And finally, if you really want to spend some money, there’s Showing of Love: Extant Texts and Translation, edited by Sister Anna Maria Reynolds, C.P. and Julia Bolton Holloway and published in Italy by Edizioni del Galluzzo. What’s neat about this book is that you get transcriptions of all four of the major manuscripts of Julian’s text — but there’s also translations of three of those manuscripts, so if you get this book, resist the temptation to just read the translation!
The Cloud of Unknowing, to the best of my knowledge, has fewer editions in the Middle English readily available, but I am aware of two options: the “TEAMS Middle English Text Series” includes an edition of The Cloud of Unknowing edited by Patrick J. Gallacher; while the Early English Text Society has released an edition of The Cloud of Unknowing and The Book of Privy Counselling edited by Phyllis Hodgson (Oxford University Press). Maggie Ross considers the Hodgson edition to be the “benchmark” and notes that “You can’t go wrong with EETS texts.” Unfortunately, the EETS edition is expensive; but if you want to avoid spending money altogether, you can access the Gallacher edition online at the University of Rochester’s website.
Does anyone know of any other editions?
Finally, if you are as weak in your Middle English as I am, you’ll probably want a Middle English Dictionary as well. Not sure which one to recommend — again, any suggestions from out there in blog-reader-land?