The Prodigious Muse
Women's Writing in Counter-Reformation Italy
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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This book draws on the twenty years or so of research that resulted in my 2008 book Women’s Writing in Italy, 1400–1650 (Johns Hopkins). In that sense, the acknowledgments for help and inspiration offered in that book are equally relevant here. In addition, however, this second book profited from a very..
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The material surveyed in this volume, the literary production of Italian women in the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, chimes uncannily well with every sense of the adjective prodigious that the Oxford English Dictionary has contrived to define. This was a remarkable period in the history...
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Before proceeding to a consideration of what Italian women wrote in this period, we need first to take account of the context of their writing. What kind of women wrote in this period, and in what circumstances? To what extent were they integrated within the literary culture of the age? What kind of..
2. LYRIC VERSE
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One area in which women writers in the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries cannot be said to have equaled their early sixteenth-century predecessors was the production of lyric poetry. The decades from 1530 to 1560 saw female poets’ first entry into the world of print in Italy, and their impact was...
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The body of secular and sacred lyric discussed in the previous chapter has many claims to novelty at the level of detail, but in other respects it continues the tradition of female-authored writing of the earlier sixteenth century. Far more novel as a development of the later Cinquecento is the emergence of...
4. SACRED NARRATIVE
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The works discussed in this chapter form part of a vast and critically underinvestigated body of religious narrative produced in Italy in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, mainly in the dominant narrative meter of ottava rima. This corpus of writings encompassed numerous, often...
5. SECULAR NARRATIVE
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The period covered by this book, 1580–1635, saw the publication of five works of secular narrative by women in Italy. Three are by Lucrezia Marinella: the pastoral romance Arcadia felice (1605), the mythological-allegorical poem Amore innamorato, et impazzato (1618), and the epic L’Enrico, overo Bisanzio...
6. DISCURSIVE PROSE
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The concluding chapter of this book surveys what may be broadly termed discursive prose writings by women, including treatises, dialogues, ‘‘meditations,’’ volumes of letters, and polemical tracts. This was a field of literary activity in which female writers emerged strongly in the last decades of the...
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In their very different ways, Lucrezia Marinella’s La nobiltà et l’eccellenza delle donne and Chiara Matraini’s Dialoghi spirituali, published within two years of each other in Venice, represent something of a high point within the history of Italian women’s experimentation with authoritative voices and...
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Page Count: 472
Publication Year: 2011