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Marguerite de Navarre, gastronomy, narrative strategy


In his penetrating study on Marguerite de Navarre, Themes, Language and Structure, Marcel Tetel calls attention to the metaphoric usage of food in the Heptaméron. Critics, to date, have failed to pursue this line of inquiry. Readers accustomed to Rabelais's elaborate gastronomic depictions may be disappointed by the extreme sobriety of corresponding scenes in the Hemptaméron. Marguerite eschews the picturesque description of a generously laden table, the exuberance associated with this traditionally jovial event and the gigantism required by the Gargantuan legend in favor of briefer and often less colorful table encounters. Yet relegating these scenes to an accessory rôle because of their brevity and lack of color seems to reflect a misunderstanding of Marguerite's narrative strategies. Since she frequently refers to these gatherings and since significance emerges from the repetitive process, the reader must acknowledge that these encounters serve a primary function.