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Introduction: Secrets in Humanist, Mystical, and Evangelical Literature

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Chapter Summary

This book focuses on three early modern Christian humanist figures who embed their spiritual thought and their ideas on secrecy in literature: Erasmus of Rotterdam, Guillaume Briçonnet, and Marguerite de Navarre. These humanists explored different kinds of secrets pertaining to religion, politics, courtly love, and aesthetics. They expressed their thoughts on sacred and secular forms of secrecy in different modes of literary expression, ranging from the comic to the tragic and from the narrative to the performative. By analyzing how the Western mystical tradition nourished the Evangelical humanism of Erasmus, Briçonnet, and Marguerite, this book addresses lacunae in both medieval and early modern studies about the importance of secrecy for thinkers who explore theological truths in literary forms that lie outside the professionalized discourses of the universities. It provides two governing models for secrecy in Northern humanism emanating from Origenian, Augustinian, and pseudo-Dionysian sources.

Keywords: evangelical literature; humanist literature; mystical literature; secrecy



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