Medieval Mysticism

(4245 words)

Historical Context Essay

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume 12: Global Voices, Global Histories: World Literatures and Cultures.

The medieval mystics and devotional writers of Western Europe produced a significant body of literature, much of it attaining a high artistic level. They wrote in poetry as well as prose, and though autobiography was a favored mode, they could at times write lyric poems, parables, and even drama. The non-fiction expository treatise was by far the genre they preferred—one that few today would consider “literature”. But medieval people did not think quite so much in terms of genre as we do, and many of the devotional treatises written in the Middle Ages rise to the high level of artistry that we associate with this term.

Surveying a field as vast and varied as that of medieval mysticism demands selectivity, even …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Boenig, Robert. "Medieval Mysticism". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 July 2008
[, accessed 05 October 2015.]