Uncommon Classics: A book club celebrating lost, forgotten, or underappreciated works from the past that could easily be on any high school syllabus.
This month's book club pick is The Heptameron by Marguerite de Navarre.
In the early 1500s five men and five women find themselves trapped by floods and compelled to take refuge in an abbey high in the Pyrenees. When told they must wait days for a bridge to be repaired, they are inspired - by recalling Boccaccio's Decameron - to pass the time in a cultured manner by each telling a story every day. The stories, however, soon degenerate into a verbal battle between the sexes, as the characters weave tales of corrupt friars, adulterous noblemen and deceitful wives. From the cynical Saffredent to the young idealist Dagoucin or the moderate Parlamente - believed to express De Navarre's own views - The Heptameron provides a fascinating insight into the minds and passions of the nobility of sixteenth century France.
Marguerite de Navarre (11 April 1492 – 21 December 1549), also known as Marguerite of Angoulême and Margaret of Navarre, was the princess of France, Queen of Navarre, and Duchess of Alencon and Berry. She was married to Henry II of Navarre. Her brother became King of France, as Francis I, and the two siblings were responsible for the celebrated intellectual and cultural court and salons of their day in France. Marguerite is the ancestress of the Bourbon kings of France, being the mother of Jeanne d'Albret, whose son, Henry of Navarre, succeeded as Henry IV of France, the first Bourbon king. As an author and a patron of humanists and reformers, she was an outstanding figure of the French Renaissance Samuel Putnam called her "The First Modern Woman".
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