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4 Evangelical Secrecy and Courtly News: The Heptameron (1559)

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Chapter Summary

Marguerite de Navarre's collection of seventy-two short stories, titled the Heptameron, makes secrecy a central narrative and thematic concern. The author argues that secrecy functions in several of her stories in relation to the ideas of openness and of news. Secrecy occupies a central place in the Heptameron in part because its stories parody medieval literary conventions relating to the phenomenon of love service, for which secrecy is a necessary means of protecting individual and collective honor. The stories dealing with love service reflect on the way prohibitions against speech lead protagonists first to suppress their fantasies, then to invent secret stratagems to achieve their desired ends. The author examines how the Heptameron situates Christian humanist spirituality with respect to secular society. The Heptameron's nouvelles dramatize the tension between secrecy and news by staging conflicts between private fantasy and public decorum.

Keywords: Christian humanist spirituality; courtly news; evangelical secrecy; Heptameron; Marguerite de Navarre

10.1163/9789004281257_006
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