A Companion to Marguerite de Navarre


Most widely read today as the author of the "Heptaméron," Marguerite de Navarre (1492-1549) was known in her lifetime as a deeply religious, mystical poet. Sister of the King of France and wife of the King of Navarre, her deeds and writings expressed and sought to promote a living faith in Christ, based on the gospels, and a vision for the renewal and reform of the Church in line with the teachings of French Evangelicals such as Lefèvre d’Étaples, Guillaume Briçonnet, and Gérard Roussel. In this volume, eleven eminent scholars offer new appreciations of Marguerite’s extraordinary life and rich and diverse literary œuvre, including, in addition to her short-story collection, dialogues, mirror poems, plays, songs, and an allegorical prison narrative.

Contributors include, along with the editors, Philip Ford, Isabelle Garnier, Jean-Marie Le Gall, Reinier Leushuis, Jan Miernowski, Olivier Millet, Isabelle Pantin, Jonathan A. Reid, and Cynthia Skenazi.

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Gary Ferguson is the Elias Ahuja Professor of French at the University of Delaware. He has published widely on 16th-century literature and culture, notably Marguerite de Navarre, devotional poetry, women's writing, and the history of religion and sexuality.

Mary McKinley is the Douglas Huntly Gordon Professor of French, University of Virginia. She writes on Montaigne and Marguerite de Navarre and has edited and translated Marie Dentière’s Epistle to Marguerite de Navarre and Preface to a Sermon by John Calvin.
“This collection […] is so complete, so well grounded in the historical and critical materials crucial to understanding Marguerite’s works and her beliefs, so beautifully written that it should be in the library of every serious academic institution.” - Kathleen Long, Cornell University, in: Renaissance Quarterly 67.2 (Summer 2014), pp. 689-690
“This volume is a rich and indispensable resource for scholars of Marguerite de Navarre and represents an important contribution to the existing scholarship. Its essays present original perspectives on her diverse literary works and offer compelling insights into her religious tendencies. This impressive work will also lead the reader to reflect more fully on the spiritual nuances of a complex and intriguing writer, leader, and thinker.” - Leanna Bridge Rezvani, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in: H-France Review, Vol. 13 No. 193 (December 2013), pp. 1-3
“The essays are both scholarly and accessible, and variously refresh existing approaches or offer new insights … The whole is more than the sum of its illuminating parts; recurring emphases across the essays, together with the initial focus on Marguerite de Navarre’s religious belief and significance, make for an enlivening review of her writing and of her exploration of the resources of her chosen genres as means to engage the reader’s potential for contemplation and reflection. The whole volume enhances our sense of the potency of the author’s spirituality in all of the writing and extends our understanding of this ‘supple religious thinker’.” - Elizabeth Guild, Robinson College, Cambridge, in: The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 66.3 (July 2015), pp. 654-655
“The essay collection should be welcomed by those who study a host of different subjects from French and early modern thought and history to mysticism, women and gender, the French Renaissance, theater, and poetry. […] This companion is a thoroughly rewarding piece of scholarship, and is sure to contribute to the study of Marguerite, her influence on France, and her spirituality.” - Jon Balserak, University of Bristol, in: Sixteenth Century Journal 45.2 (2014), pp. 533-535
“This volume, and not least because it explores texts less often taught than the stories, is invaluable. It is most likely to be read by academics and students, but inside those fleur-de-lilied towers it will long be a wise ‘companion’.” - Anne Lake Prescott, Barnard College, in: Early Modern Women Journal 10.1 (Fall 2015), pp. 188-192
“Essential to any critic interested in this woman of letters.” - Jeff Kendrick, Virginia Military Institute, in: The French Review 89.2 (2015), pp. 216-217
"In der bewährten Tradition der Brill-Handbücher sammelt dieser Band neun interdisziplinäre Beiträge, die den aktuellen Wissenstand zu Margarete von Navarra (1492-1549) nicht nur hilfreich zusammenfassen, sondern auch die Forschung ein wichtiges Stück voranbringen. Erfreulicherweise werden hierbei keine Kontroversen gescheut .. Als Ganzes betrachtet, vermittelt der Band einen anschaulichen Eindruck von der Unabgeschlossenheit der Forschung zu Margarete von Navarra, vor allem was ihre theologisch-konfessionelle Einordnung betrifft. Alle weiteren diesbezüglichen Studien werden nicht umhinkommen, dieses Buch als Ausgangspunkt zu nehmen." - Stephen E. Buckwalter, Heidelberg, in: Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte, Bd. 43 (2014), S. 144-145

Notes on Contributors

Gary Ferguson and Mary B. McKinley

Marguerite de Navarre and Evangelical Reform
Jonathan A. Reid

Marguerite de Navarre: the Reasons for Remaining Catholic
Jean-Marie Le Gall

Neo-Platonic Themes of Ascent in Marguerite de Navarre
Philip Ford

Opening and Closing Reflections: the Miroir de l’âme pécheresse
and the Miroir de Jésus-Christ crucifié
Isabelle Garnier with Isabelle Pantin

Speaking with the Dead: Spirituality, Mourning, and Memory in
the Dialogue en forme de vision nocturne and La Navire
Reinier Leushuis

Les Prisons’ Poetics of Conversion
Cynthia Skenazi

Chansons Spirituelles--Songs for a “Delightful” Transformation
Jan Miernowski

Staging the Spiritual: The Biblical and Non-Biblical Plays
Olivier Millet

The Heptaméron: Word, Spirit, World
Gary Ferguson and Mary B. McKinley



All those interested in Renaissance literature, the history of early modern France, the history of the Church and the Reformation, and women as both writers and political figures.