Anonymous: The Cloud of Unknowing (3258 words)

Rebecca Hill
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Context

Produced in England in the second half of the fourteenth century, the Cloud of Unknowing is a Middle English devotional manual designed to teach an novice, or someone relatively new to a life of Christian devotion, how to achieve union with God by means of negative or apophatic theology. The anonymous author’s main tenet is that if one stops contemplating God’s manifestations, one may know him by surrendering to nothingness; in other words, one must quiet the mind in order to give way to the workings of the heart. Despite relying on some positive (kataphatic) language and imagery, the most salient of which is the cloud-piercing love-dart, to assist the reader in this achievement, both image and rationality collapse. …

Citation: Hill, Rebecca. "The Cloud of Unknowing". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 26 July 2018 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=16094, accessed 25 October 2020.]

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