Marguerite Porete Criticism - Essay

Peter Dronke (essay date 1982)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Dronke, Peter. “Lyrical Poetry in the Work of Marguerite Porete.” In Literary and Historical Perspectives of the Middle Ages: Proceedings of the 1981 SEMA Meeting, edited by Patricia W. Cummings, Patrick W. Conner, and Charles W. Connell, pp. 1-19. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 1982.

[In the following essay, Dronke examines the lyrical, mystical, and erotic expressions of divine love in Porete's The Mirror of Simple Souls and situates the work in its historical context.]

Hildegard of Bingen, as distinctive in her medical and cosmological writing as in her mystic visions and poems and drama, died in 1179. The hundred and twenty years...

(The entire section is 6005 words.)

Gwendolyn Bryant (essay date 1984)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Bryant, Gwendolyn. “The French Heretic Beguine: Marguerite Porete.” In Medieval Women Writers, edited by Katharina M. Wilson, pp. 204-26. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1984.

[In the following essay, Bryant summarizes Porete's life and examines the official denunciation of The Mirror of Simple Souls as a heretical work in the early fourteenth century.]

Sometime between 1296 and 1306, in Valenciennes, Guy II, bishop of Cambrai, condemned the Mirror of Simple Souls as heretical and ordered it publicly burned in the presence of its author, Marguerite Porete. On June 1, 1310, Marguerite herself was burned in what Henry Charles Lea calls...

(The entire section is 3060 words.)

Robert D. Cottrell (essay date winter 1991)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Cottrell, Robert D. “Marguerite Porete's Heretical Discourse; or, Deviating from the Model.” Modern Language Studies 21, no. 1 (winter 1991): 16-21.

[In the following essay, Cottrell acknowledges that Porete's mystical treatise, The Mirror of Simple Souls, can be reconciled with church doctrine if interpreted figuratively, but argues that the work, in questioning the position of the female self within the patriarchal order, attempts to subvert traditional Christian social hierarchy.]

Around the year 1300, ecclesiastical authorities in the northern French city of Valenciennes condemned as heretical a work entitled Le Mirouer des simples ames...

(The entire section is 3320 words.)

Michael A. Sells (essay date 1994)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Sells, Michael A. “Apophasis of Desire and the Burning of Marguerite Porete.” In Mystical Languages of Unsaying, pp. 116-45. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

[In the following excerpt, Sells analyzes several major themes in The Mirror of Simple Souls, including the nature of divine love, the form of mystical union with God, and the annihilation, or ‘reversion,’ of the soul.]

Marguerite Porete was burned at the stake on the first of June, 1310, at the Place de la Grève in Paris. Porete, from Hainaut in northern France, belonged to that class of women known as beguines, whose status was midway between the laity and clergy. The beguines...

(The entire section is 15835 words.)

Maria Lichtmann (essay date 1995)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Lichtmann, Maria. “Marguerite Porete's Mirror of Simple Souls: Inverted Reflection of Self, Society, and God.” Studia Mystica n.s. 16, no. 1 (1995): 4-29.

[In the following essay, Lichtmann probes the political, social, historical, and theological grounds for Porete's condemnation as a heretic in the early fourteenth century.]

Marguerite Porete, burned at the stake in the early fourteenth century, along with her book, a mystical treatise which nevertheless went on to influence mystics and mystical traditions down the centuries, offers a particularly apt study for the interplay between mysticism, feminism, and society. Marguerite Porete's treatise,...

(The entire section is 10738 words.)

Amy Hollywood (essay date 1995)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Hollywood, Amy. “The Problem of the Text: Marguerite Porete's The Mirror of Simple Souls.” In The Soul as Virgin Wife: Mechthild of Magdeburg, Marguerite Porete, and Meister Eckhart, pp. 87-119. South Bend, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1995.

[In the following excerpt, Hollywood considers the ambiguous status of Porete's The Mirror of Simple Souls as medieval allegory, tracing its representation of the stages of the soul's union with God and comparing the work with Mechthild of Magdeburg's The Flowering Light of the Godhead.]

THE TEXT AS MIRROR AND AS ALLEGORY

The recurring ambiguities of Marguerite Porete's...

(The entire section is 13265 words.)

Kathleen Garay (essay date winter 1997)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Garay, Kathleen. “‘She Swims and Floats in Joy’: Marguerite Porete, an ‘Heretical’ Mystic of the Later Middle Ages.” Canadian Woman Studies/Les Cahiers de la femme 17, no. 1 (winter 1997): 18-21.

[In the following essay, Garay praises Porete's The Mirror of Simple Souls as an unconventional work that effectively adapts the language of courtly romance to a theological critique of patriarchal authority.]

This Soul, says Love,

swims in a sea of joy, that is, in the sea of delights, flowing and running out of the Divinity. And so she feels no joy, for she is joy itself. She swims and floats in joy, without...

(The entire section is 2779 words.)

Maria Lichtmann (essay date winter 1998)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Lichtmann, Maria. “Negative Theology in Marguerite Porete and Jacques Derrida.” Christianity and Literature 47, no. 2 (winter 1998): 213-27.

[In the following essay, Lichtmann maintains that The Mirror of Simple Souls anticipates several postmodern, deconstructionist themes such as “the disappearance of the self,” “the insatiability of desire,” and “the subversion of authority.”]

In his book titled Deconstructing Theology, Mark C. Taylor outlines some themes of a postmodern “theology”:

Deconstruction directs our attention to critical problems which merit serious consideration: the death of...

(The entire section is 6588 words.)

Heidi Marx (essay date 1998)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Marx, Heidi. “Metaphors of Imaging in Meister Eckhart and Marguerite Porete.” Medieval Perspectives 8 (1998): 99-108.

[In the following essay, Marx compares Porete's portrayal of the divine with that of Meister Eckhart, focusing on their use of metaphors associated with mirrors, mirroring, and painting.]

A great deal of recent Eckhart scholarship has been devoted to the question of similarities and differences between his thought and that of a number of his contemporary female mystics, most of them beguines. In particular, a number of articles have focused on the sometimes uncanny similarities between his thought and that of Marguerite Porete as found in...

(The entire section is 3945 words.)

Edmund Colledge, J. C. Marler, and Judith Grant (essay date 1999)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Colledge, Edmund, J. C. Marler, and Judith Grant. “Introductory Interpretive Essay.” In The Mirror of Simple Souls, by Margaret Porete, translated by Edmund Colledge, J. C. Marler, and Judith Grant, pp. xxxv-lxxxvii. South Bend, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1999.

[In the following excerpt, Colledge, Marler, and Grant discuss Porete's The Mirror of Simple Souls within its historical, literary, and critical contexts, also addressing the interpretive questions it raises, its theological arguments, and its influence.]

[The Mirror of Simple Souls's] structure is that of a Boethian dialogue. The principal interlocutor is the Soul, or,...

(The entire section is 10603 words.)

Barbara Newman (essay date 2002)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Newman, Barbara. “The Mirror and the Rose: Marguerite Porete's Encounter with Dieu d'amours.” In The Vernacular Spirit: Essays on Medieval Religious Literature, edited by Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, Duncan Robertson, and Nancy Bradley Warren, pp. 105-23. New York: Palgrave, 2002.

[In the following essay, Newman evaluates the extent to which Porete's The Mirror of Simple Souls may have been stylistically and thematically influenced by the thirteenth-century Roman de la rose.]

Several years ago I proposed the new term mystique courtoise to categorize an array of vernacular mystical texts from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries,...

(The entire section is 8550 words.)