I was introduced to Louise Labé last year – a site on FaceBook posted one of her poems (Sonnet 18, “Kiss me, rekiss me, & kiss me again”) on Valentines Day, as a promotion for a reissue of their English translation. I was hooked. A 16th-century quasi-feminist (I could imagine her penning “A Room of One’s Own” 300 years before Woolf), Labé was also a romantic, and her vividly sensual writing is remarkable, especially so given her lifetime and experience. Her works were published in her lifetime as well – in French, obviously, hence the need for a translation. This slim volume of sonnets and elegies represents nearly her entire works (there is one other essay about the folly of love, but I couldn’t find it in English), and so is a quick read, but very stirring and lively. Highly recommended for reading out loud. The footnotes and other academic bits are interesting but not required – the poems really speak for themselves.
3. A book published before 1900. (well this edition wasn’t, but the poems date back to 1555)
8. A book written by a female author. (the translator is male, but the original works are hers)
19. A book you can finish in a day.
21. A book translated from (or in) another language. (the French versions are included, for those so inclined)
22. A book of poetry.
24. A book written by someone younger than you. (Labé died aged 46ish)
26. A book by an author whom you’ve never read.