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3 Mystical and Courtly Secrets: Marguerite de Navarre (1492–1549)

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Chapter Summary

Marguerite de Navarre's early and late works rearticulate the Augustinian opposition between sacred and profane pleasures, making it a vital feature in both her poetic and prose thought. The author discusses how humanist Evangelicals used secrecy to critique social, political, and religious values and practices for having gone astray. Marguerite draws on the Augustinian opposition between secrecy and worldliness, which was also mediated to her through Petrarch's works, as a form of internal, spiritual combat between sacred and profane values. In her most important devotional poems, titled Mirror of the Sinful Soul and The Prisons, secrecy has both mystical and Evangelical significance, and the aesthetics of secrecy that she develops shares common elements with early humanist thought. Marguerite relates secrecy not only to deception but also to self-deceptively disguised motives.

Keywords: Augustinian opposition; Christian humanist; devotional poems; Marguerite de Navarre; medieval mystical tradition



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