Marguerite de Navarre.
As a scholar specializing in the late medieval and early Renaissance period, I collect first editions of sixteenth-century French and Latin literary works. The book on view is a rare copy of the first complete edition of Marguerite, sister of French king Francis the 1st, Duchess of Alençon, and Queen of Navarre’s best-known narrative, the Heptaméron. Inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, this is a collection of novellas set in an open-ended frame story, which offers conflicting opinions on a variety of topics, such as love, marriage, friendship, and religion. Due to the author’s death in 1549, however, the storytelling stopped on the seventh day instead of the projected ten, which would have reflected the narrative structure of the Decameron. The first printed edition, published in 1558 by Pierre Boistuau, deviated considerably from the original manuscript. In 1559 Claude Gruget restored the tales to their initial structure and form, adding some of his own compositions, and entitled them the Heptaméron (from the Greek “hepta”=seven), to indicate the number of storytelling days.
Olga Anna Duhl