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Scandal and Narrative in the Heptaméron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350–363
JournalFrench Studies
Issue number3
Early online date2 Jun 2018
Accepted/In press5 May 2017
E-pub ahead of print2 Jun 2018
PublishedJul 2018


King's Authors


This article explores the relationships between scandal and narrative in Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptaméron. Scandal was a controversial and shifting keyword in the sixteenth century: the medieval secular connotations of socially reprehensible behaviour and outrage were still current, while Protestant discussions revived its biblical sense of the stumbling block in an individual’s path to salvation. The Heptaméron contains both kinds of scandal. Its stories are socially scandalous in their plots of adultery, treachery, and hypocrisy, but the storytellers also probe the theological idea that such behaviour could be a spiritual snare or stumbling block, especially in relation to what is presented frequently as the false teaching of the Franciscans. This article traces the dynamics of scandal in the nouvelles and between the storytellers, and argues that stories about scandalous behaviour might themselves constitute a scandal to the unwary reader. The Heptaméron acknowledges this possibility, exploring both the narrative of scandal and the scandal of narrative and emphasizing the contagious power of both.

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