Models of Women in Sixteenth-Century French Literature

Author: Pollie Bromilow
Offers a feminist critique of the so-called “crisis of exemplarity” in late Renaissance texts by comparing and contrasting examples proposed to female readers in two collections of sixteenth-century French short stories, Pierre Boaistuau’s Histoires tragiques and Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptaméron. The author proposes that female exemplarity has its own poetics and cannot be considered simply as identical or symmetrical to male exemplarity. What emerges in the course of the study is an understanding of the different ways in which exemplarity enters the life of the female reader: through history, truth, invention, memory and strangeness.


“This book contributes to the lively debate on exemplarity in the Renaissance by concentrating on examples offered to women. Its distinctive approach is to examine two collections of short prose narratives of which one female- and the other male-authored: Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptaméron and the collection of Histoires tragiques compiled by Pierre Boaistuau and François de Belleforest ... Dr. Bromilow’s book ... constitutes a valuable contribution to the discussion of the crisis of exemplarity in the Renaissance." - Professor Jennifer J. Britnell, Professor Emerita of French,University of Durham

“This comparative feminist reading of two major works of sixteenth-century French fiction, Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptaméron and the Histoires tragiques by Boaistuau and Belleforest, is a stimulating reassessment of the representation of women in Renaissance texts and the degree to which female exemplarity is presented in these works ... I am certain that it will represent an important and original contribution to the central question of women’s writing and the place of women in society in Renaissance France, and that it will appeal both to an undergraduate and a scholarly readership.” - Professor Philip Ford, Clare College, Cambridge

“This book is scholarly and thoughtful, overall. Dr. Bromilow takes some difficult rhetorical concepts such as memory and invention, and relates them to gender. This effort is new and original.” - Dr. Cathleen M. Bauschatz, Professor of French, University of Maine

Table of Contents

Foreword by Jennifer J. Britnell
The Histoires tragiques and the Heptaméron: Initial Points of Comparison
1 Female Exemplarity in the Histoires tragiques
2 Female Exemplarity in the Heptaméron
3 ‘Mon histoire est si belle et sy veritable’: Vérité, Histoire, Invention and Female Exemplarity
4 Mémoire/Memoria: Women Remembering and Remembering Women
5 ‘Dieu que c’est un estrange animal que la femme’: ‘Strangeness’ and Female
Bibliography before 1800
General Bibliography
Index nominum