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The Visionary Queen : Justice, Reform, and the Labyrinth in Marguerite de Navarre

Theresa Brock

BROCK Theresa, The Visionary Queen : Justice, Reform, and the Labyrinth in Marguerite de Navarre, Newark, University of Delaware Press, 2023.

ISBN : 9781644533086

The Visionary Queen: Justice, Reform, and the Labyrinth in Marguerite de Navarre affirms Navarre’s status not only as a political figure, author, or proponent of non-schismatic reform, but also as a visionary. In her life and writings, the queen of Navarre dissected the injustices that her society and its institutions perpetuated against women. We also see evidence that she used her literary texts, especially the Heptaméron (1559), as an exploratory space in which to generate a creative vision for institutional reform. The Heptaméron’s approach to reform emerges from statistical analysis of the text’s seventy-two tales, which reveals new insights into trends within the work, including the different categories of wrongdoing by male, institutional representatives from the Church and aristocracy, as well as the varying responses to injustice that characters in the tales employ as they pursue reform. Throughout its chapters, The Visionary Queen foregrounds the trope of the labyrinth, a potent symbol in early modern Europe that encapsulated both the fallen world and redemption, two themes that underlie Marguerite’s project of reform, and interrogates how the labyrinth has been regaining prominence today in feminism, spiritual practice, and social justice causes.

Theresa Brock is an Assistant Professor of French Studies at Smith College. She received her PhD from Penn State and has published articles on women writers, literary genre, and religious studies in the early modern era, with particular emphasis on the sixteenth century. She is currently at work on a second book that examines the influence of gender and religion on hermeneutics of the natural world in texts by early modern French writers.