Title Background

<i>Willing to Know God: Dreamers and Visionaries in the Later Middle Ages</i>

Willing to Know God: Dreamers and Visionaries in the Later Middle Ages

This book argues that one must analyse mystical experience and dream poetry together to understand medieval religious visions. While mystics represent themselves as reliable, the writers of dream poetry are able to examine the strengths and weaknesses of visionary revelation. Chapter 6, ‘The Critique of Revelation in PPl‘ (pp. 152-83), argues that Will is both an individualized character and an allegorical representation of the will, a dual role that allows him to serve as an ‘everyman figure’. Will’s search for ‘kynde knowing’ of God presupposes a Franciscan rather than a Thomist theory of visionary cognition. His attempts to improve his understanding of the divine through language and the rational faculties turning out to be insufficient, yet, because his desire for God is increased, he is able, after the meeting with Haukyn, to attain a visionary appreciation of Christ that is brief but authentic. Will’s appeal to his wife and daughter in B.18 to go with him to church, his first devotional action in the poem, shows that the preceding vision of Christ has altered him. The immediate sources of Will’s successful visions are, first, the allegory L uses in the Haukyn and Samaritan episodes, for this provides the Dreamer with a means of approach to affective knowledge, and second, Will’s learning to value self-examination and self-amendment.

Rev. by:

  • Mary Clemente Davlin, YLS, 25 (2011), 207-12;
  • Barbara Newman, The Medieval Review 11.03.10 (http://hdl.handle.net/2022/13238);
  • Sara Torres, Comitatus, 42 (2011), 228-30.
  • Kerilyn Harkaway-Krieger, Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures, 38 (2012), 233-37