From Désert to Patrie: Marguerite de Navarre’s Lessons from the New World

Carrie F. Klaus, DePauw University


The sixty-seventh novella in Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptaméron, the story of an unnamed woman cast off, with her traitorous husband, from Jean-François de La Rocque de Roberval’s colonizing expedition in 1542, has been called the oldest surviving literary text situated in what is now Canada. This article argues that Marguerite de Navarre seized upon this early modern Atlantic fait divers as an opportunity to propose expanded roles for women (in service to the King, in marriage, and in the Church), roles that could be worked out in the New World and brought back to the Old.