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Machiavelli in Love

Sex, Self, and Society in the Italian Renaissance

Guido Ruggiero

Publication Year: 2006

Machiavelli in Love introduces a complex concept of sex and sexual identity and their roles in the culture and politics of the Italian Renaissance. Guido Ruggiero's study counters the consensus among historians and literary critics that there was little sense of individual identity and almost no sense of sexual identity before the modern period. Drawing from the works of major literary figures such as Boccaccio, Aretino, and Castiglione, and rereading them against archival evidence, Ruggiero examines the concept of identity via consensus realities of family, neighbors, friends, and social peers, as well as broader communities and solidarities. The author contends that Renaissance Italians understood sexual identity as a part of the human life cycle, something that changed throughout stages of youthful experimentation, marriage, adult companionship, and old age. Machiavelli’s letters and literary production reveal a fascinating construction of self that is highly reliant on sexual reputation. Ruggiero's challenging reinterpretation of this canonical figure, as well as his unique treatment of other major works of the period, offer new approaches for reading Renaissance literature and new understandings of the way life was lived and perceived during this time.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

Although this book is the product of a career of research, discussions with students, colleagues, and friends, and reading widely in the literature of the Renaissance, it began to come together in a more serious way in the early 1990s thanks to fellowship support from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Much-appreciated stays at...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-18

“Given that el Machia [Machiavelli] is a relative of yours and a very good friend of mine, I cannot refrain from taking this occasion that you have given me to write to you and to commiserate with you about the things that I am hearing daily about him...

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1. Of Birds, Figs, and Sexual Identity in the Renaissance, or The Marescalco’s Boy Bride

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pp. 18-40

As this book and this essay mean to play with ideas and concepts that we hold dear, I thought that I might begin with a game that was listed by Tomaso Garzoni as one of the more popular games played in upper-class circles in Renaissance Italy. It is a game that in its own way seems to play with what we might expect of polite society in that time and place. It was called...

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2. Playing with the Devil: The Pleasures and Dangers of Sex and Play

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pp. 41-70

It was a winter’s evening in the 1540s. January. Florence. Four aristocratic young men (“de i primi e più gentili della terra”) were playing instruments and singing after dinner at the home of their hostess, a rich and noble widow. One of these youths was the widow’s brother, which suggests that she was still young, much the same age as her guests, as was not uncommon in a time when...

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3. The Abbot’s Concubine: Renaissance Lies, Literature, and Power

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pp. 71-84

In 1573 the abbot of Sumaga, Alessandro Ruis, was going around the little village where he lived—and to some extent ruled as the leading ecclesiastical figure—regaling his neighbors with a tale about his problems with his former concubine, Cecilia Padovana. Cecilia, he was complaining, had used some very troubling magic to bind to her the love of the men she desired including...

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4. Brunelleschi’s First Masterpiece, or Mean Streets, Familiar Streets, Masculine Spaces, and Identity in Renaissance Florence

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pp. 85-107

“At the heart of the city there is a place full of joy. . . . Seek the grandeur of the high dome of Santa Reparata [the cathedral] or ask for the magnificent church of God that shows the Lamb [the Baptistery]. Once there bear to the right a few paces . . . and ask for the Mercato Vecchio. There half way down the street stands a happy whorehouse which you will know by the very smell...

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5. Machiavelli in Love: The Self-Presentation of an Aging Lover

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pp. 108-162

There was no doubt in the Renaissance that death would be followed by a last judgment. Actually more than one. For while virtually everyone would have agreed that God’s Last Judgment was by far the most important and significant, no one would have underestimated the importance and significance...

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6. Death and Resurrection and the Regime of Virt

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pp. 163-211

There was no doubt in the Renaissance that death would be followed by a last judgment. Actually more than one. For while virtually everyone would have agreed that God’s Last Judgment was by far the most important and significant, no one would have underestimated the importance and significance of the last judgment...

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Afterword: How Machiavelli Put the Devil Back in Hell

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pp. 212-222

Although Machiavelli in his letters and his comedies often revealed the touch of a novelliere and Bandello remarked that he was well known as a person who loved to spin out clever tales in company, only one freestanding novella of note of his has survived: the tale of the devil who took...

Notes

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pp. 223-260

Bibliography

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pp. 261-278

Index

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pp. 279-285


E-ISBN-13: 9780801892028
E-ISBN-10: 0801892023
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801898358
Print-ISBN-10: 0801898358

Page Count: 300
Publication Year: 2006