1st Edition

Marguerite de Navarre's Shifting Gaze
Perspectives on gender, class, and politics in the Heptaméron

ISBN 9781472487308
Published November 10, 2016 by Routledge
284 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptaméron, composed in the 1540s and first published posthumously in 1558 and 1559, has long been an interpretive puzzle. De Navarre (1492-1549), sister of King Francis I of France, was a controversial figure in her lifetime. Her evangelical activities and proximity to the Crown placed her at the epicenter of her country’s internecine strife and societal unrest. Yet her short stories appear to offer few traces of the sociopolitical turbulence that surrounded her.In Marguerite de Navarre’s Shifting Gaze, however, Elizabeth Zegura argues that the Heptaméron’s innocuous appearance camouflages its serious insights into patriarchy and gender, social class, and early modern French politics, which emerge from an analysis of the text’s shifting perspectives. Zegura’s approach, which focuses on visual cues and alternative standpoints and viewing positions within the text, hinges upon foregrounding "les choses basses" (lowly things) to which the devisante (storyteller) Oisille draws our attention in nouvelle (novella) 2 of the Heptaméron, using this downward, archaeological gaze to excavate layers of the text that merit more extensive critical attention.While her conclusions cast a new light on the literature, life, and times of Marguerite de Navarre, they are nevertheless closely aligned with recent scholarship on this important historical and literary figure. 

Table of Contents



List of abbreviations

Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 Between life and literature: the many faces of Marguerite de Navarre

Preliminary considerations: questions of gender, periodization, and theory

Genealogy, genes, and gender: the making of a princess

Serving god and the king: Marguerite’s religious and political development

Family matters: one body, one spirit, one faith

The gathering storm: l’affaire des placards and its aftermath

Marguerite’s many loves: weighing and balancing multiple loyalties

Tribulations and triumphs: Marguerite’s final years

Chapter 3 Gender and patriarchy: a many-sided view

Contexts and intertexts: rewriting and responding to male discourse

Female icons, exempla, and real women: alternative standpoints

Gendered violence and vice: making sense of "he said, she said"

Respectability and its double: the underside of male power and piety

The insides and outsides of patriarchy: beyond and beneath sexual difference and gender stereotypes

Re-viewing marriage and infidelity: coping with an "estate of long duration"

Chapter 4 Upstairs, downstairs: the dynamics of class and rank

A view from the top: looking down at the lower classes

Cruel masters and abuses of high rank

Excavating the underside of power and privilege: "les choses basses" as vehicles of revelation

Chapter 5 Power, politics, and modes of governance in the Heptaméron

The education of a Christian prince: positive models of governance and community

"When malice is joined with power": evil leaders, abuses of authority, and ethical dilemmas

Reading between the lines: political allegory and metonymy in the Heptaméron


Selected bibliography


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Elizabeth Chesney Zegura is Associate Professor (Emerita) of French and Italian at the University of Arizona, USA.