Thursday, 30 July 2020

Rare books 27: Mechtild of Magdeburg in French



Translation of ‘Das fliessende Licht der Gottheit’, in English ‘The Flowing Light of the Godhead’, but here in French ‘La Lumière de la Divinité’ by the thirteenth century Beguine mystic Mechtild of Magdeburg. (Poitiers, 1878) Notes: Mechtild wrote in a local Magdeburg mixture of Middle High and Middle Low German. Her original writings do not survive but we have two copies, one in Latin the other in another variant of German, which became the focus of rapt attention when she was rediscovered in the nineteenth century. The monks of Solesmes produced a two-volume edition in the 1870s while, it seems, simultaneously putting it into accessible French. As the title page states: “Traduites en français pour la première fois.” There is wide interest today in Mechtild and other of the so-called Rhineland mystics, both by scholars and general readers, and presumably translations flourish in French now just as they do in English. The Bibliothèque nationale de France record provided lots of useful information, after download records proved elusive.

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