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Encyclopedia > Ancrene Wisse

Ancrene Wisse (also Ancrene Riwle) or Guide for Anchoresses is a monastic rule (or manual) for anchorite nuns, written in the early 13th century in Middle English.


There are eleven manuscript versions in existance containing all or part of the text in its original English, there are also four versions in Middle French, and a further four Latin translations. The oldest manuscript in English is kept at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.


One of the many scholars who have studied this work was J. R. R. Tolkien.




  Results from FactBites:
 
Anchoritic Spirituality in Medieval England: (9546 words)
Ancrene Wisse are frequently criticized by feminist scholars for their emphasis on the female body as the source of sin, for their general misogyny, and for the distorted views of women which they represent.
Ancrene Wisse is comparable to devotional texts written for monks and thus predictable, in terms of its repeated cautions against yielding to temptation, entertaining inappropriate guests, and engaging in extreme, life-threatening acts of penance, and its exhortations to pray, read, and keep constantly busy, parts of it reveal an intriguing originality of symbolism.
Ancrene Wisse may or may not have perceived the female nature as essentially and inescapably lustful, but it is fairly clear that he was quite comfortable with encouraging the anchoresses to think of themselves as the spouses of Christ, literally as well as figuratively.
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