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Scrolls of LoveRuth and the Song of Songs$
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Peter S. Hawkins and Lesleigh Cushing Stahlberg

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780823225712

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823225712.001.0001

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The Body of the Text and the Text of the Body: Monastic Reading and Allegorical Sub / Versions of Desire

The Body of the Text and the Text of the Body: Monastic Reading and Allegorical Sub / Versions of Desire

Chapter:
(p.244) The Body of the Text and the Text of the Body: Monastic Reading and Allegorical Sub / Versions of Desire
Source:
Scrolls of Love
Author(s):

Mark Burrows

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fso/9780823225712.003.0018

Flesh as a figure, the realized body, the poetic body, the made body: These describe in a curiously apt manner the imagined world of much of the medieval Christian reading of the Song of Songs, particularly as it found expression within monastic circles. Learning to read properly, to engage Scripture not on its “face”, but in its depths, was for Bernard of Clairvaux what monastic life was all about. It was a way of accommodating the bodily “dislocations” of monastic life: celibacy, in the first instance, and, second, the entrance into the monastery, which exiled the monk by “unhousing” him from his familiar world. The body thus represents a “primary text” for Bernard's fellow monks, and the biblical text—in this case, the erotic narrative of the Song of Songs—became in his hands a “body” to be read properly, to be “built” with meaning.

Keywords:   poetic body, flesh, Song of Songs, celibacy, monastic life, biblical text, Bernard of Clairvaux, erotic narrative

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