My seventh Julian

Revelations:S Upjohn

I bought this translation while I was in Norwich last summer. It is published by the Friends of Julian, has a forward by Robert Llewelyn, and is translated by Sheila Upjohn. It is arranged as daily readings, with most chapters set out over two or three days. I really wanted to like this translation very much, but in the end was a bit disappointed by it.

My first experience of Julian’s writing was the small Enfolded in Love book, and I have always loved the way the words flowed. For a long time I didn’t realise that it was Sheila Upjohn who had done the translation, I was more aware of the fact that Robert Llewelyn had been the editor of that and the other books in the series. When I found out that there was a longer translation available I was excited to read it, and I must say that the translation itself is wonderful, but there are other things which don’t work for me.

First of all, this is not a complete translation. Most of the text is here, but it is not all here, and unfortunately for me, some of my favourite passages have been omitted, so as I read I was very aware that some things were missing.

Like the Grace Warrack translation, this is quite a sparse version, with no footnotes and no headings. The chapter numbers are printed at the bottom of the page, but that is all. I usually read two chapters of Julian every evening, and so this format didn’t really work for me, I suppose because I was not using it in the way it was intended.

In the end I had very mixed feelings about this book, but in large part I think this is due to the way I read Julian and the structure of the book being incompatible. The translation is wonderful, and if you are looking for a structured text for daily meditation, maybe a step on from Enfolded in Love, then this might be the translation for you. However, if you are familiar with the full text then this will seem a little lacking, and if you read it in any way other than the one for which it was intended then it will feel a little disjointed.

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My first Julian

Enfolded In LoveWhen I was confirmed, on Advent Sunday in 1987, I received this little book. Each of us who was confirmed that day received a different book; my friend was given The Great Divorce by C S Lewis. Our vicar was from East Anglia so that may be why he had chosen this as one of the books presented that day.

Enfolded In Love was first published in 1980, and was the beginning of a series of the same name. There is another book of Julian readings, called In Love Enclosed, in addition to a number of others, including the Cloud of Unknowing, Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Teresa of Avila. So many things are referred to as ‘pocket-sized’ when in fact no one has pockets big enough for the items described so, but these books really are: 15cm x 10cm and less than 100 pages.

The series was edited by Fr Robert Llewelyn, who more than anyone else has been responsible for introducing people to Julian and her writing. The royalties from Enfolded In Love and In Love Enclosed were donated to the Julian Centre. I had the honour of meeting him in 1998, but I will write more about him later. He deserves a post devoted solely to him.

This little book is what drew my heart to Julian, and even now I still dip into it when I want to find a quote easily. The translation, credited only to ‘Members of The Julian Shrine’, is beautiful. It uses modern language, but keeps ‘All shall be well’ in its familiar form. The pronoun ‘he’ is not capitalised, as it is in some translations. It is the perfect introduction to Julian’s writing. Unfortunately it seems to be out of print now.

Recently I have been trying out different translations of the Revelations. I’m hoping to find the one which connects me to Julian’s voice the most. There are two I’ve already read which I’ll blog about soon, and another I’ve just started. I’m surprised by how different each one is, how much I may like one or find another difficult. But for the Julian newbie, or for something truly pocket-sized, Enfolded In Love is a great start.