Louise Labé – a hoax?

Way behind the cutting edge here – but I’ve just been reading about a book called

Louise Labe: Une creature de papier by Mireille Huchon published in 2006.

In the book Mireille Huchon – a specialist in 16th century literature – speculates that Louise’s canon of poetry was a hoax perpetrated by several 16th century male Lyonnaise poets including de Magny, Scève and the publisher Jean de Tournes.

Huchon equates the woman Louise Labé with the courtesan, la Belle Cordière, but not with the poetry carrying her name.

From The Free Library –

‘…As suggested by Clement Marot in 1542, was there a project to louer Louise (praise Louise)? Was this a scheme, in the eyes of the participants, to rival Petrarch’s laudare Laure? Huchon’s well-researched arguments are insightful. She analyzes and compares literary texts and demonstrates how they were manipulated, imitated, and plagarized.

Huchon brings her book to a close with a convincing conclusion: a group of male poets contributed their writings to create the CEuvres de Louize Labe Lionnoize, under the orchestration of Maurice Sceve. Two critics, Verdun Louis Saulnier in 1948 and Keith Cameron in 1990, had earlier put into question the authenticity of the CEuvres. The Debat de Folie  et d’Amour, in particular, was most likely written by Sceve with the contribution of Claude de Taillemont. As early as 1584, Pierre de Saint-Julien wrote that in the Debat can be detected the “erudite bawdiness of Maurice Sceve.” As for the Escriz de divers Poetes, a la louange de Louise Labe Lionnoize, they comprise twenty-four poems, principally by anonymous writers who appear to have disguised their real identities behind masks made of anagrams, play on words, or simple initials.

Poets such as Jean-Antoine de Baif, Olivier de Magny, Guillaume Aubert, and Charles Fontaine, among others, played a significant role in the composition of the CEuvres, which were edited by Jean de Tournes, then the most important editor in Lyon. Therefore, according to Huchon, the whole volume amounts to a “bright fancy work of imagination” of a circle of poets from Lyon, reworking the various facets of Petrarchan or Platonic Love, by means of feminine pseudo-writing and the many literary devices already mentioned, elements of which were then all the rage in sixteenth-century Lyon…’

How sad.

Louise Labé

I live, I die, I burn, I drown
I endure at once chill and cold
Life is at once too soft and too hard
I have sore troubles mingled with joys…

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