The Sonnets of Louise Labé

Labé, Louise (c. 1524–c. 1566), translated by Kline, A. S. (contact-email)

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Louise Labé’s sonnets, published with other verse in Lyon in 1555, set her alongside Maurice Scève, as an heir to Petrarch’s form and content, and exemplify the secular humanist advance of the French Renaissance. She asserts her literary skill, her wit, and her strength of mind, in sonnets which, while conceding nothing in terms of quality to those of her male peers, grant a fresh perspective on male-female relationship. In her own words:
‘The time having arrived…when the strict laws of men no longer prevent women from applying themselves to the arts and sciences, it seems to me that those who possess the means should employ this noble freedom, so coveted by our sex in the past, to pursue such things; and show men the wrong they have done us, in depriving us of the benefit, and the honour, that might bring us.’ (from the dedication, introducing the 1555 edition).

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Kline, A. S.

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