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Methley volume publication announced for January 2021

Richard Methley is the most weird and wild late-medieval mystic no-one has heard of - and his Latin spiritual treatises are finally available in modern English translation for the first time.

Here in Liturgical Press' Cistercian Studies Series Volume No. 286, Barbara Newman has provided the translations from Latin for The Works of Richard Methley while I have provided the Introduction and a translation of his short Middle English work. The volume will be published in January 2020.

A short excerpt from the Introduction, pp. vii-viii:

Introduction Richard Methley (ca. 1451–1527/28) was a Carthusian monk whose spiritual writings constitute a significant contribution to the Latin religious literature of late medieval England. Methley’s three surviving mystical works intertwine the traditions of apophatic theology and affective spirituality with the genres of contemplative treatise and visionary account. He compared himself to the hermit and mystic Richard Rolle (d. 1349), and a contemporary later compared him to the laywoman and visionary Margery Kempe (d. after 1438). Few readers today, however, have heard of him, and even among specialists in medieval religion he is barely known. In this volume, his five surviving works are translated for the first time. Their obscurity—due in large part due to their challenging Latin, the limited accessibility of modern editions, and the lack of translations until now—is undeserved. They offer a vivid view into the contemplative milieu of the Carthusian Order, and an engaging, idiosyncratic glimpse into the mystical experiences of a monk who felt driven to document those divine encounters for the benefit of his fellow Christians.

What little we know about Richard Methley can be gleaned mostly from the autobiographical aspects of his writings. He carefully dates his mystical experiences according to his age and the number of years since his profession as a monk, and his death is recorded in the obituaries from the Carthusian General Chapter for 1528 (and thus occurred sometime between spring 1527 and 3 May 1528). He was born around 1451/52 to the Furth family in the village of Methley, just outside Leeds in Yorkshire. Whether or not he attended university or was ordained early on, he does not say, and no evidence survives. Nonetheless, he acquired ready fluency in Latin. A defining year in his life was 1476, when at the age of twenty-five he was professed as a monk at Mount Grace Charterhouse in North Yorkshire, where he would become vicar and live until his death around the age of 77. As he explains inThe Refectory of Salvation, he was inspired to join the hermit-like Carthusian Order after visiting an “elderly recluse” or anchoress enclosed in a cell attached to a chapel, to whom he publicly gave a small donation while secretly giving much more. Against his wishes the recluse’s servant revealed his generosity, for which he received both praise and censure from others. Upon the recluse’s death a few days later, he too was led within three months “to a solitary cell to live there as a Carthusian” (chap. 20).

Pre-order the paperback for only $29.95 to read more :-)

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