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Earthly Treasures

Material Culture and Metaphysics in the Heptameron and Evangelical Narrative

by Catharine Randall

Publication Year: 2007

arthly Treasures maps the presence, position and use in the narrative of a variety of material objects in Marguerite de Navarre's Heptameron. There is a wide selection of objects, ranging from tapestries with scripture passages woven into the borders, fine arts paintings, chalices incised with proverbs, emblems, table linens, copies of Bibles or manuscripts, clothing, masks, stage props, jewelry, furniture and foodstuffs. Although the presence of such material objects seems paradoxical, given the scriptural mandate to disregard things of this world, and to "store up treasure", rather, in heaven, Marguerite found license to use such objects both in the Bible and in the daily life-oriented and artifact-studded sermons and writings collected in the Table Talk of Martin Luther.

Published by: Purdue University Press

Series: Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures

Title Page

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pp. vii

List of Abbreviations

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pp. viii

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pp. ix

First and foremost, I would like to thank the Reverend Joseph McShane, Society of Jesus, President of Fordham University. When he hired me years ago, Father McShane asked what I, as an Episcopal woman scholar of sixteenth-century French, was going to offer to the Jesuit culture at Fordham. I volunteered...

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Introduction: Objects of Desire: Reading the Material World Metaphysically in Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptaméron

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pp. 1-22

The early years of the sixteenth century were rich and complex, a time of extravagance, costuming, and courtly masques coupled with skepticism about worldliness due to theological reform movements.1 Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptaméron participates in this complexity:2 a collection of tales about often...

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Chapter One: Telling Tableaux and Textual Resurrections: Marguerite de Navarre and the Evangelical Narrative

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pp. 23-46

The Greek word for gospel, evangelion, derives from the same root as that of “gossip.”1 Telling stories to narrate the Christian experience is thus both a theological and literary technique, and, appropriately, personal witnessing combined with scriptural references, metaphors, and anecdotes typifies...

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Chapter Two: Evangelical Dimensions in Decorative Arts: Emblems, Earthly Objects, and the Economy of Transcendence

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pp. 47-76

Marguerite develops a hybrid narrative form in the Heptam

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Chapter Three: A New Medium for a New Message: Evangelicals and Decorative Arts

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pp. 77-110

The presence of Lutheran theology in France during the 1520s and 1530s influenced Marguerite to develop an evangelical narrative. This new narrative form also encompassed certain trends in contemporary decorative and fine arts.1 Art historians recognize that “Fontainebleau was truly a school for the new culture...

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Chapter Four: Of Tableware, Chalices, and Axeheads: The Evangelical Narrative and Transitory Treasures

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pp. 111-147

The evangelical writer explicates characters and relationships in reference to things of the world; however, narrative problems arise from their presence, because the evangelical author remains ambivalent about objects, and cultivates an attitude of distrust about them. Charles Taylor explains the evangelical attitude...

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Chapter Five: The Evangelical Narrative: Des P

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pp. 148-172

Other evangelicals1 used strategies similar to those that Marguerite de Navarre devised in the Heptaméron. Bonaventure Des Périers, secretary to Marguerite de Navarre, shared her evangelical sympathies.2 His Cymbalum mundi was condemned by the Sorbonne in 1537 for “impieties.” In this and in...

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Chapter Six: Earthly Treasures: Marguerite’s Mondain Monstrances

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pp. 173-194

With the exception of theological applications, Randle Cotgrave’s above definition of monstre enumerates the uses that Marguerite finds for objects in the Heptaméron. The definition also implicitly suggests ways in which her evangelical distrust of those things has developed. Its several categories all relate to...

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Chapter Seven: Costuming the Christiform Text; Or, L’habit ne fait pas le moine

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pp. 195-230

Guillaume Briçonnet, Marguerite’s confessor, urged her to strip off her gloves, to remove the material obstruction to her metaphysical self-alignment.1 His statement may have suggested a model for how Marguerite uses objects in the Heptaméron: the literary texture of the nouvelles is always woven from things of...

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Chapter Eight: Interior Decoration and External Trappings: Space for the Spirit

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pp. 231-275

Exterior spaces (gardens, forests, bordered alleys, streets), buildings (castles, prisons, churches, monasteries), and interior spaces (bedchambers, salons, closets) play narrative roles in the nouvelles. Their decorative schemes (composed of tapestries, rugs, clothes chests, beds, tables) are also significant. Such objects...

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Conclusion: From Self to Soul: Treasures of the Heart

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pp. 276-290

The eventual eschatological transformation of materiality manifests itself progressively as the earlier nouvelles of the Heptam


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pp. 291-331


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pp. 333-344


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pp. 345-354

E-ISBN-13: 9781612491059
E-ISBN-10: 1612491057
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557534491
Print-ISBN-10: 1557534497

Page Count: 270
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures