It seems to me that no scholarly trend in the last thirty years has been as fruitful as the diversity of interpretation that is now rescuing texts like Margery Kempe’s from the misreadings and dissympathies that have been long visited upon them. The word “hysteric,” once the consensus word for Kempe, is rarely used even by those readers still hostile to her, and we understand and can even celebrate the paradox of Valerie Lagorio’s marvelous phrase “noisy contemplative” (“Defensorium” 29). 1 We see now how securely Margery Kempe is tied to certain traditions: her gift of tears is a link between her and many women in life and art from Mary and Magdalene on down the ages; she is part of the devotional way inherited and still evolving from that moment when Francis acted out his conversion before his father in Assisi. 2 Texts accessible to Kempe, like the Meditations on the Life of Christ, have been proved to be visible in her manner and method of devotion. 3 These studies, which show that Kempe, rather than being aberrant, is solidly rooted in medieval spiritual traditions, are more valuable to us than anything I write here. But they make it now fitting and proper to return her to her idiosyncrasies, to emphasize the ways she is profoundly different from any of the writers she knew, Richard Rolle, Julian of Norwich, Walter Hilton, Saints Bridget of Sweden and Catherine of Siena. I will explain my sense of the revolutionary nature of her work by discussing two issues which still inspire controversy: her fondness for expressing her experience in the most common and domestic terms and the degree (or even the existence) of her triumph over clerical authorities. I want also to imply that we can sort out our responses to Kempe more comfortably and fairly if we can move away from the topics which have most occupied scholars—her potential heresies, her specifically Lollard connections, the arguments about how 18much of a mystic she is. I am, of course, not alone in seeing a truly revolutionary spirit in Kempe; it will become clearer that I am working along the lines especially of Maureen Fries, Susan Dickman, Elona Lucas, and Hope Phyllis Weissman who also do not minimize, as some scholars do, the kind of opposition Kempe sets up to clerical authority. 4 My final goal, however, is to illuminate the difference she makes in her own age by showing how some of the ideas and themes most powerfully written in The Book are flourishing in the still radical, if very widespread, expressiveness of modern Protestantism. To see Kempe from this perspective frees us from the explicit interpretative limits imposed by labels like “para-,” “quasi-,” or “pseudo-”mysticism.