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7. Prelude: Northern Circulation of Fourteenth-Century Mystical Texts

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Chapter Summary

The productive centre of 14th-century mysticism as shaped by the German Dominicans and their Dutch contemporaries lay in the cities along the Rhine and in the Duchy of Brabant; the Dominican studium generale in Cologne formed its intellectual core. This chapter focuses on the late-medieval textual culture of mystical writing in the vernacular. The works of the great writers from the Dutch and German mystical tradition are discussed within the broader context of textual dissemination, compilation, and readership. To gain an idea of this complex process, one must look not only at the individual authors, their oeuvres, their thoughts, and their ideas, but also at medieval textual culture in general, the practices of transmission and compilation, and the interaction of texts and people. For this textual culture, scribes, readers, and translators are as important as the writers whose literary legacy so profoundly affected the religious life of later generations.

Keywords: 14th-century mysticism; German Dominicans; German mystical tradition; late-medieval textual culture



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