Australian Journal of French Studies

Transforming Violence and Death in Marguerite de Navarre's Chansons spirituelles

Australian Journal of French Studies (2015), 52, (1), 87–99.

Abstract

This article considers various representations of death and physical violence in Marguerite de Navarre's Chansons spirituelles. These include the impact of violence on one's spiritual life, on the experience of union with God, and on the shaping of the believer's will and identity. Marguerite employs violent images both as a critique of those who would use self-brutalization to feign humility, and as a sign authenticating a sincere desire for union with the divine. The negative use of asceticism to earn God's favour, leading to pride, gives way to a positive view of suffering and death deeply embedded in and indispensable to one's experience of the divine. By differentiating the source of violence, the poems reveal that even though suffering is painful, it is necessary to transform the believer's will. More than a simple metaphor, however, death and violence become the means to and textual expression of this metamorphosis.

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Author details

Kendrick, Jeff