Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


Date of this Version

January 2002


Published in La femme au XVIIe siècle: Actes du colloque de Vancouver, University of British Columbia, 5–7 octobre 2000. Édités par Richard G. Hodgson. Biblio 17, Nr. 138. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag, 2002. Pp. 407–417.
Copyright © 2002 Gunter Narr Verlag. Used by permission.


This paper explores the manner in which Anne de Marquets’s (1533– 1588) Sonets Spirituels (published posthumously in 1605) reshapes conventional portraits of the Virgin Mary. A Dominican nun at the Royal Priory in Poissy, Marquets, like many Baroque Catholic poets, follows Church tradition in glorifying Mary as a maternal symbol of chastity and faith. Yet, unlike Gabrielle de Coignard (OEuvres chrestiennes, 1594), Jean de La Ceppède (Théorèmes, 1613, 1622), or other of her lyric peers, Marquets depicts the Virgin as a subjective, intellectual near-deity whose role occasionally borders on the messianic. The basic approach of this study is comparative, as I will discuss how Marquets’s characterization of Mary as a foil for Satan and as the typological avatar for several women in the Bible contrasts with Coignard’s and La Ceppède’s adherence to the Stabat Mater tradition which depicts Mary as an afflicted figure who witnesses Christ’s Passion in silent agony. As Terence Cave has shown, Marquets herself does imitate the various motifs of this Medieval Latin hymn (197). But the image of the Mater dolorosa does not dominate Marquets’s lyric. And while her representation of Mary does bear some resemblance to Coignard’s in that the two authors at times draw parallels between themselves and the Virgin, Marquets’s depiction of Mary is, as a whole, less personal and autobiographical than that of Coignard. Similarly, Marquets, like La Ceppède, relies on typological example to underscore how the narrative of Christ’s life is structured according to the progressive revelation that links the Old and New Testaments. Nonetheless, Marquets goes beyond La Ceppède by emphasizing how the example of Mary fulfills and redeems the roles of Biblical figures, both male and female, to illustrate the indispensable nature of her role in God’s redemptive plan for humanity.