Staging a debate between three ladies who lament their ill-fated experiences in courtly love and unite in a female amitié d’alliance with Neoplatonic overtones, Marguerite de Navarre’s dialogized poem La Coche, her only secular poem of a substantial length, largely imitates medieval debate poetry such as the débat, dit, or jugement, as written for instance by Alain Chartier and Christine de Pizan. While critics have identified Marguerite’s innovative treatment of gender issues in La Coche and have pointed to her rewriting of courtly love’s conventional paradigms into an idealized female friendship, the text’s dialogical form has not yet been fully taken into account. This article shows that in order to cast her gendered love casuistry most effectively Marguerite not only turns toward poetic dialogue as inspired by her late medieval predecessors, but also emulates the mimetic capacities of popular Italian courtly dialogues, such as in particular Bembo’s Asolani, a text mostly overlooked as a source but that could likely have been an important intertext for La Coche. This article argues that La Coche is Marguerite’s deliberate attempt to conflate the poetics of the medieval débat with those of Renaissance dialogue in order to propose a gendered alternative to the rigid rhetorical (Ciceronian) and dialectical (Neoplatonic) conventions of male-authored Italian Renaissance models of ragionamento amoroso, and create an authentic French love dialogue by female voices only.


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pp. 453-469
Launched on MUSE
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