Délie as Other. Toward a Poetics of Desire in Scève’s Délie

Délie as OtherNancy Frelick —

This book examines various aspects of the poetics of desire in Maurice Scève’s Délie, objet de plus haute vertu (1544), which is often described as the first French canzoniere (or collection of poems inspired by Petrarch’s Rime). The author’s approach to this collection of hermetic poems and emblems is to elaborate a set of reading strategies inspired by Lacanian and post-structuralist theories that help us to understand that the poetics of indeterminacy and indirection in the text are bound up in gaps and resistances, in the opacity of the signifier, whether at the verbal or visual level.  Like Délie, the Poet-Lover’s multifaceted object of desire, meaning proves elusive, tortuous, hard to grasp.  Yet, as with the Lacanian unconscious, resistance itself can be seen as meaningful in the fragmentary, circular text that is Délie.   The very gaps that form obstacles to a linear narrative, to a discourse of mastery, turn out to be sites of potential meaning.  Like the analyst, the reader of the Délie must therefore learn to listen to the discourse that slips through the interstitial spaces and resistances in the text.   There can be no end to desire, however.  Its fulfillment remains elusive and tantalizing, propelling both the poetic persona and the reader ever forward in a ceaseless search for a kind of ultimate meaning, for a sense of closure and contentment that are always beyond reach or endlessly deferred, as if in some inaccessible otherness.


Nancy Frelick, Délie as Other. Toward a Poetics of Desire in Scève’s Délie, French Forum, Publishers, 1994.
ISBN: 917058887