Subject of Desire: Petrarchan Poetics and the Female Voice in Louise Labe

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About this title

Purdue University Press

Description

The French Renaissance poet Louise Labé is one of the most striking and influential women writers of early modern Europe. In her broad-ranging volume of prose and poetic works (1555), Labé transforms the position of woman in Renaissance discourse from an object to a subject of erotic and artistic desire and privileges the notion of desire itself as a central problem for literary and psychic exploration.

Deborah Lesko Baker presents the dramatic creation and evolution of female subjectivity in Labé as a passionate quest for internal selfhood made possible both through authentic self-study and self-expression and through authentic connection and exchange with others in the real world. In so doing she analyzes how the development of the female subject coincides with an ongoing interrogation of the inherited models of the Petrarchan lyric tradition.

The Subject of Desire traces Labé’s restructuring of the female subject and speaking voice through a detailed, integrated study of all four texts comprising the 1555 Œuvres. Through a series of close readings, the book highlights Labé’s revision of Petrarchan poetics and her creation of an original voice in the evolution of the French Renaissance lyric. In detailing Labé’s movement from acute interiority to active exteriority, The Subject of Desire reveals how Labé struggles to construct a new set of values concerning communication about love in both public and private discourse—values that her readers are called upon to consider as they face the complexities of their own personal experiences.