Those who wish to read this exquisite writer but do not trust their French now have an edition with extraordinarily helpful notes, subtle translations, and an erudite but accessible introduction. I will certainly assign it the next time I teach my course on Renaissance women writers. How can one not love a poet who explains why boars have cloven feet, who imagines Cupid shooting arrows tipped with Greek fire while giving a cheery "Good day!" in his native Greek, and who mixes discourses from Petrarch, Plato, and the early French Renaissance into a witty dialogue that always charms and often moves?
This new bilingual edition of Du Guillet's poems includes a richly detailed and up-to-date introduction and a translation that follows the original rhymes—a daunting undertaking often performed with dazzling accuracy, humor and verve. This will be the English edition of the Rymes for a long time to come.
Ann Rosalind Jones
Esther Cloudman Dunn Professor of Comparative Literature, Smith College
Here Marta Finch brings the musical rhymes and meters of the French originals to her deft translations of Pernette du Guillet's complete poetic work. The gracious verse, sometimes amusing, sometimes wrenching, will make evident to an English-speaking audience the intelligence, sensitivity, and technical skills of the sadly short-lived sixteenth-century poet. In her fourth epigram, praising the knowledge and goodness of another poet, Du Guillet writes, "Your sweet pen gently pouring forth the while / Deserves all of the praise and glory gained / From riches seen to stream in noble style." Riches stream in noble style in this book's English versions of a remarkable young woman's poetry.
Recipient of The Richard Wilbur Award for Distant Blue; co-author of Meter and Meaning
In 1545, the first edition of the Rymes presented the young Pernette du Guillet as a model of feminine virtue and learning for other ladies to emulate. She has long been identified as muse and pupil of Maurice Scève in Lyon’s lively literary circle. Such views have profoundly shaped the reading of her work, yet the poems themselves reveal complex responses to lyric traditions and theories of love that influenced many Renaissance writers. Du Guillet transforms those conventions in a unique voice, moving beyond the silence imposed on sixteenth-century women. Expressing admiration and jealousy, awe and dismay, solemnity and playfulness, confusion and confidence, her poems evoke for us a young woman’s experience with love and her birth as a writer. This first complete English edition provides a fully-annotated bilingual text and a fresh perspective from which to appreciate the originality and beauty of this poetry.
KAREN SIMROTH JAMES teaches and is Language Program Director in the Department of French at the University of Virginia, where she also directs the digital archive, The Renaissance in Print: Sixteenth-Century French Books in the Douglas H. Gordon Collection.
MARTA RIJN FINCH is a Vermont poet who wrote her first verse at age five. An early fascination with languages led to the study of French, Latin, Greek, Russian, and Chinese. She lived in France for six years, attended the Sorbonne, and translated the poetry of philosopher Simone Weil during her stay in Lyon.
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