Title: Julian of Norwich: A Very Brief History
Author: Janina Ramirez
Published by: SPCK on 10/1/2016
Blurb: ‘A great, very readable introduction.’ – Danièle Cybulskie, Medievalists.net
Over six hundred years ago a woman known as Julian of Norwich wrote what is now regarded as one of the greatest works of literature in English. Based on a sequence of mystical revelations she received in 1373, her book is called Revelations of Divine Love
Julian lived through an age of political and religious turmoil, as well as through the misery of the Black Death, and her writing engages with timeless questions about life, love and the meaning of suffering.
But who was Julian of Norwich? And what can she teach us today?
Medievalist and TV historian Janina Ramirez invites you to join her in exploring Julian’s remarkable life and times, offering insights into how and why her writing has survived, and what we can learn from this fourteenth-century mystic whose work lay hidden in the shadows of her male contemporaries for far too long.
A Note From the Publisher
Janina Ramirez is the course director on the Undergraduate Certificate and Diploma in History of Art at Oxford University. She has written and presented numerous BBC history documentaries, the most recent of which, ‘In Search of the Lost Manuscript: Julian of Norwich’ (BBC 4) aired in July 2016. She is the author of The Private Lives of the Saints: Power, passion and politics in Anglo-Saxon England (W. H. Allen, 2015).
My Take: This was my first encounter with anything by, or about, Julian of Norwich. As a growing Medievalist, I had her works on my radar so when I had a chance to read and review a copy of a short introduction to the woman, I had to jump on it. It was not only worth my time to read this wonderful book, but it has also convinced me to make Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love one of my must-read books of 2017.
The title promises this to be a very short introduction and, indeed, it succeeds at accomplishing just that. In four short chapters, the reader is given a better understanding of who Julian of Norwich was, what she wrote, how it compares to some of her contemporaries such as Margery of Kemp, what makes her work, and life, unique and worth our interest, and why we should still be reading her today. At no point does this book feel like it is overloading the reader with needless information. Rather, the clear prose of Janina Ramirez is open and inviting enough to compel the reader to want to know more about this woman and convince them that her work should be read and studied still today.
In short, this is a wonderful book to read for both newcomers and those who have read and studied Julian of Norwich. Reading this excellent book makes me wish that every Medieval author had such a nice, brief introduction available to expose the reader to who they are and why they should still be read today. This book is definitely a must-read for anyone interested in Medieval history or literature, Medieval religious authors, or who are looking to find an author whose Christian experience is something different than those flooding the current Christian bestseller lists.