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Julian, God and the Art of Storytelling
: A Narrative Analysis of the Works of Julian of Norwich
Godeline Gertrude Perk
Umeå Studies in Language and Literature, no. 32
Celebrated for her compassionate theology and subtle, subversive imagery, Julian of Norwich (c. 1343-c. 1416), the earliest known woman writer in the English language, is also an accomplished storyteller. This study explores and compares the narrative strategies found in her two accounts of her visionary experience, A Vision Showed to a Devout Woman and A Revelation of Love. Reading these two non-fiction texts as narratives, this analysis brings Julian's stories into dialogue with the narratives of ther own time, Middle English literary theroy, modern narratology, and the texts' attention to their own telling. This reveals that Revelation inclues, expands and transforms the plot, point of view, and characterization of Vision, while Revelation simultaneously implodes these narrative structures to hint at grater, divine structures. By creating a poetics of developing and enveloping in Revelation, Julian strategically depicts herself, God and the reader as characters in each other's narratives and as participating in each other's storytelling: she authorizes her own story by making it God's and the reader's as well.