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By Stephen D. Kolsky;

ISBN-10: 0820461830

ISBN-13: 9780820461830

ISBN-10: 0820480576

ISBN-13: 9780820480572

Composed within the 1360s, Boccaccio’s De mulieribus claris (Famous ladies) was once the 1st try at lady biography within the heritage of post-classical Western literature. despite the fact that, its humanistic credentials coexist uneasily with the remnants of medieval misogyny. This book-the first full-length research of De mulieribus claris in English-argues that it truly is necessary to keep in mind the ideological complexities of early humanism faced with the "woman question." It seeks to resolve the problems of the textual content, taking a look at its genesis, resources, family to different writings-including Boccaccio’s vernacular works-its political dimensions, and its constitution and technique, to make clear Boccaccio the humanist rewriting and rethinking his earlier attitudes towards girls.

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Extra resources for The Genealogy of Women: Studies in Boccaccio's De Mulieribus Claris (Studies in the Humanities (New York, N.Y.), V. 62.)

Sample text

Boccaccio does not mention the particular objects associated with the Opis cult or their intricate symbolism. In the De mulieribus, his interest lies elsewhere. Furthermore, the central part of the narrative is not constituted by the mythical story of Opis’ deception of her brother, Titan, recounted in the Genealogie,15 but by the account of the political importance of the goddess to the Romans in a moment of military crisis, taken from Livy. The latter episode is framed by a self-satisfied understanding that pagan religion was based on erroneous foundations.

Although the order of presentation is basically chronological, it does have an impact on the generation of ambiguous messages by mixing together contrasting biographies. If the goddesses are meant to provide the earliest indications of exceptional women, they also signal the unstable connotations of female ingenuity in a context where pagan ·SHAPING THE TEXT· 27 achievement is devalued because it is ‘unchristian’ and praised because it demonstrates that female potential was actualized in ancient times.

There are other, less well-known, Petrarchan texts which form part of the structure and content of the De mulieribus. The De mulieribus can be called Petrarchan because of its self-proclaimed modelling on the De viris, and also because of its focus on the classical Roman world, with a similar adhesion to values that Petrarch himself championed. At the same time, the De mulieribus appears to me to be marked by an effort to distinguish itself from the model and assert its own identity. This is not to say there is an open break between master and disciple, but Boccaccio brings his own interpretation to the practice of humanism, a contaminatio of Petrarch’s methods and aims with his own vast cultural baggage, including his experience as a writer of prose in the vernacular.

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