In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

232Philosophy and Literature exemplum history of women, De mulieribus claris (c. 1380), Barbara's De re uxoria (1416), Alberti's Libri dellafamiglia (1441), and Erasmus's Colloquies and Institutio matrimonii christiani (1526). Here, as in her later chapters, Jordan oudines the principal arguments of the works, highlighting their presuppositions and questions about the nature and role of women. In her subsequent chapters (2-4): "Woman and Natural Law," "Sex and Gender," and "Equality," Jordan proceeds in more or less chronological order, moving in each case through Italy, France, and England. Her chapter divisions suggestand she argues, albeitbriefly, that the progress ofthe feminist/misogynist polemic from the late fifteenth through the early seventeenth century moved through three roughly designated periods where the arguments focused on the different preoccupations indicated by the chapter titles. The fidelity of the works to that model is not always clear. However, if the organizing principle is not self-evident, the wealth of the material is endlessly revealing and suggestive . Jordan highlights the main questions raised by each work, showing them in dialogue with each other. In each chapter she relates feminist issues to larger questions of political authority. She ends with a somber afterword, examining the reasons why Renaissance defenses of women never succeeded in effecting social change. Future editions of this work could give scholars a better apparatus for retrieving its riches. A chronological bibliography by country would be extremely helpful. Because her extensive footnotes provide a valuable fund of interdisciplinary documentation, I would also appreciate a separate bibliography of secondary material. Constance Jordan's book opens the door to cultural historians and literary critics and invites them to peruse the individual works that she has marshaled together in this vast and rich panorama. University of VirginiaMary B. McKinley Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love, by R. Howard Bloch; ix & 298 pp. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991, $45.00 cloth, $17.95 paper. Misogyny is a veritable discourse that spans all genres, aristocratic and bourgeois , in Latin and in French, from the tenth through the fifteenth century. It is the linking of misogyny and Western romantic love, however, that creates Reviews233 the major thesis and the revolutionary statement that emerges from this study. Until now, Western romantic love, born in the south of France in the 12th century, has been deemed a liberation from centuries ofmisogyny. Bloch maintains , nonetheless, through an analysis ofmedieval French and Latin texts, that this romantic love continues the misogynist tradition inasmuch as "negative and positive fetishizations of the feminine work to identical effect" (p. 11). The first two chapters zero in on the particularly negative version of the feminine constructed between the first and fourth centuries by the church fathers. Here Bloch elucidates the rigid asceticism of early Christianity: the association of woman with the corporeal and the cosmetic, and the condemnation ofsimulation and ofall pleasure attached to material embodiment. More specifically, Chapter One, predicated upon the ramifications of the Yahwist (Genesis 2:7) account of creation, underscores woman's subservient role in church and society and her association with the material, the decorative, the artificial, and the debased, while the second chapter treats the association of woman with metaphor, the figurative, rhetoric, sophism, dissimulation, and verbal transgression. In the third chapter, Bloch seeks the origin of the dual postulation in Christianity of woman as both evil ("Devil's Gateway") and good ("Bride of Christ"), seducer and redeemer, within the opposite Christian discourse that maintained the equality of the sexes. Chapter Four emphasizes the importance of virginity and chastity as links between early patristic writings and the courdy literature of the 12th and 13th centuries. Chapters Five and Six study the obsession with chastity and conclude that courdy love does not represent a break with the Early Christian articulation of sexuality, only an inversion of its terms. The earlier asceticism and deprecation of the feminine was now, in the High Middle Ages, transformed into an idealization both of woman and love in which desire was secularized, secular love became impossible, and impossible love became noble. The simultaneous condemnation and idealization of woman and love, found, for example, in William IX and Andreas Capellanus, are not opposites. Rather...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 232-234
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.