Journal Article

The Parrot as Paramour: Yourcenar's Amant Vert

Emma Herdman

in French Studies

Published on behalf of International Society for Human and Animal Mycology

Volume 65, issue 2, pages 212-224
Published in print April 2011 | ISSN: 0016-1128
Published online April 2011 | e-ISSN: 1468-2931 | DOI:
The Parrot as Paramour: Yourcenar's Amant Vert

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  • European History
  • European Languages
  • Literary Studies (European)


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This article argues that Marguerite Yourcenar's reference in L'Œuvre au noir to l'Amant Vert, the pet parrot belonging to Marguerite d'Autriche, should be read as contributing to the symbolism through which Yourcenar indicates Marguerite's bisexuality. The emergence and development of bisexuality as a theme in Yourcenar's characterization of Marguerite are first examined on their own terms. Next, this presentation of Marguerite is considered in the light of Yourcenar's sixteenth-century sources — Pierre Bourdeille, abbé de Brantôme's Dames galantes and Jean Lemaire de Belges's Épîtres de l'Amant Vert — in order to assess the historical validity of this presentation of parrots and of Marguerite d'Autriche. Finally, via reference to other sixteenth-century parrots, the article demonstrates that such symbolism is discernible in the sixteenth century, and therefore suggests that Yourcenar's Amant Vert is indicative of a highly perceptive and sensitive response to the period in which her novel is set.

Journal Article.  6175 words. 

Subjects: European History ; European Languages ; Literary Studies (European)

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