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Title: Hadewijch als erotische Liebesdichterin
Author(s): CLASSEN, Albrecht
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 12    Date: 2000   
Pages: 23-42
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.12.0.505288

Abstract :
Previous scholarship on medieval mystical literature has been mostly concentrated on the religious, historical, or musical aspects dealt with by these visionary authors. By contrast, we have recently learned to grasp these revelations expressed in a variety of literary genres as the perhaps most sophisticated form of erotic discourse combining the spiritual with the secular. The best examples for the astonishing literary quality of mystical literature can be found in the writings by the Flemish poet Hadewijch. Her religious experiences are not to be doubted, and are not the major issue in this paper, instead, the focus rests on her literary images, her use of language, her poetic style, and her unparalleled power of expressing the divine revelations in the most erotic-physical terms. Apparently worldly poets in Germany, France, and Italy (courtly love poets) experienced a dramatic decline since the early thirteenth century, and became victims of their own tradition which they endlessly repeated without ever reaching fully new ground in their efforts to deal with love. At the same time the testimony of the mystical writers. especially of Hadewijch, illustrates that they were the true successors of the glorious Troubadours, Trouvères. Minnesänger, and the poets of the Stil dolce nuovo. In fact, Hadewijch's phenomenal images of and expressions for love provide us with evidence for the intimate relationship between courtly love poetry and religious experiences already since the beginning of courtly culture in the early twelfth century.

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