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Redeeming the Time: Langland Julian, Julian, and the Art of Lifelong Revision

Redeeming the Time: Langland Julian, Julian, and the Art of Lifelong Revision

This essay compares PPl with Julian’s Revelation of Love as exemplars of an aesthetic of process, deeply marked by their authors’ lifelong revisions. Beginning with the works’ unwieldy, asymmetrical form, it argues that their refusal of formal closure marks an aesthetic stance linked to broader similarities. L and Julian both reject the normative separation of ordinary consciousness from the dreaming or visionary state, along with sharp distinctions between ordinary time and the privileged time of revelation. The texts thus develop complex temporalities atypical of their respective genres. Dream time and waking time in PPl are not synchronized, nor are the times of seeing, reflecting, and writing clearly delineated in A Revelation of Love. The essay goes on to link the internal temporality of each text (the time between visions) with its external temporality (the time between versions). It argues that Julian drafted a ‘B text’ between 1388 and 1393 before interpolating chapters 44-63 at a later date, inserting the parable of the Lord and the Servant with its interpretation. This important new material alters the book’s visionary focus in a kind of reverse typology, such that the literal vision of Christ crucified now anticipates the symbolic vision of the suffering servant—which may have been influenced by L’s figure of Piers Plowman. Finally, the article sketches a relationship between two temporal frames in PPl, a cyclical frame shaped by the liturgical calendar and a linear one governed by the three ages of salvation history, with Piers serving as pivotal figure at the turn of the ages. But his role at these pivot points (the tearing of the pardon and the Tree of Charity) is eliminated in C, suggesting L’s choice of intellectual clarity over affective compression in his last revisions—a choice markedly contrasting with Julian’s. (BN)


YLS, 23 (2009), 1-32


Newman, Barbara