James P. Benn

Alt Title

Noia and Desir in the sonnets of Louise Labé

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Birberick, Anne L. (Anne Lynn), 1954-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures


Labé; Louise; 1526?-1566--Criticism and interpretation; Love poetry; French--History and criticism; Sonnets; French--History and criticism; Desire in literature


This study of Louise Labe's sonnet collection seeks to define the two main themes of love that run throughout the twenty-four sonnets. Labe establishes these two themes in the opening sonnet, which is commonly called the Italian sonnet. I attempt to show that the Italian sonnet is an important component to the collection as a whole precisely because it Is therein that Labe establishes the dual aspects of love. In Chapter One, I examine the Italian sonnet. By evaluating the importance of beginnings, I demonstrate the value of the Italian sonnet as the incipit to the sonnet collection. To understand better the role and functions of the first sonnet within the collection, I study both Labe in relation to other poets and the Italian sonnet in relation to the other parts of Labe's work. Finally, I offer a close textual reading of the Italian sonnet and show how Labe inflects love. This chapter establishes the base for the next two chapters which further study each of the ways in which love is represented. Chapter Two focuses on the noia element of love. In attempting to define noia, I understand it as a three-part process. The first stage Is a description of the Lover's suffering. The second stage is the acceptance of that suffering. The Lover accepts her suffering because she comes to understand, in the third stage, that love is the invincible, ordering force of the cosmos. Chapter Three centers on desir. This aspect of love is closely related to the figure of Folie, a character from Labe's Debat de Folie et dAmour. Like noia, desir has three principal aspects. Labe formulates desir as a motivational or creative force, a delectation morose, and as a rejection of reality. Finally, we see that the Italian sonnet acts as a critical point of departure for the sonnets. It establishes the collection's two main themes and summarizes all that it precedes, encapsulating the whole of the love experience that the collection seeks to expose.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [93]-95)


vi, 95 pages




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