Nicholas Love's Mirror and Late Medieval Devotio-Literary Culture
Theological politics and devotional practice in fifteenth-century England
Surviving in 59 complete manuscript versions, few English texts of the late medieval period seem to have achieved the popularity of Nicholas Love's fifteenth-century translation and adaptation of the Latin Meditationes Vitae Christi - The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ. The Mirror has received surprisingly little scholarly attention and is often contextualized in terms of its role in the theological conflict between English ecclesiastical orthodoxy and the teachings of heresiarch John Wycliff. David Falls presents a new account of the text's history which de-centralises, but does not disregard, the influence of the Wycliffite controversy. Falls interrogates preconceptions and investigates new possibilities for understanding the composition, circulation, function and use of Love's Mirror by examining both the textual modifications and additions made by Love in his adaptation of the Latin, and places these alterations in context by examining individual copies of the Mirror. The manuscript copies are read as both sites of literary consumption and nexuses of textual transition, demonstrating that it was Love's ability to inscribe his work with "functional diversity" which explains the Mirror's popularity. This book presents a nuanced picture not only of the Mirror's production, circulation and function, but also the dynamic and flourishing devotio-literary culture of late medieval England in which Love's text operated.
David J. Falls, Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.