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Reviews 125 Some readers might wish, in a work devoted to the construct of autobiography, for more discussion of the notion of feminine and masculine discourse. Abbott's Julian, however, works in a theological and psychological framework that is gender-neutral where 'the conscious realization of the soul is experienced indivisibly as a conscious realization of the indwelling Christ' (p. 160). In such a world personhood cannot be viewed only materialistically as validation of the human body by identity with the physical suffering of Christ. Abbott also eschews the simplistic division of male/raft'o and female!affectus as alternative approaches to understanding. Rather, for Julian the intellectus is the source of meaning, a faculty which requires both affectus and ratio (p. 83). The solid and scholarly book will be useful to those who study religious literature generally; the discussion of identity is a valuable case study for those interested in cultural and social aspects of the Middle Ages; and the subtle exploration ofthe continuity of a realist incarnational theology must be addressed by those who believe the late medieval church suffered disruption in a nominalistdominated world. There are some minor typographical errors, but this is a refreshing book which, as all good criticism should, urges a return to the sources. Rosemary Dunn School of Humanities James Cook University Balestracci, Duccio, The Renaissance in the Fields: Family Memoirs of a Fifteenth-Century Tuscan Peasant, trans. Paolo Squatrini and Betsy Meredith, University Park, The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999; paper; pp. xxvi, 146, 5 b/w illustrations, 1 map; R R P US$14.95; ISBN 0271018798. Many historians dream of finding unknown sources that illuminate a poorly documented aspect ofthe past. Imagine then the excitement ofDuccio Balestracci when in the early 1980s he discovered at archives in Siena two volumes of memoirs kept by a family offifteenth-centurypeasants, yes, peasants! The resulting book, La Zappa e la Retorica: Memorie Familiari di un Contadino Toscano del Quattrocentro, appeared in 1984. The book under review is an abridged and revised version of the original, with 'the hoe and the rhetoric' of the original title replaced by the more commercially promising The Renaissance in the Fields. Rather than family memoirs, these are account books with entries 126 Reviews dating from 1439 to 1502, kept primarily by one member ofthe family, Benedetto del Massarizia. The Massarizia family lived and farmed in the three villages of Marciano, Montalbuccio, and Carciano located in the 'Masse,' the area within four tofivemiles of the walls of Siena. Neither Benedetto nor any other members of the family could write, although Benedetto could probably read the entries, which were written by those with w h o m he had business. As a result, the books contain none of the intimate details that occur in the inquisition registers of Jacques Fournier, which Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie used to reconstruct peasant life at Montaillou, nor do they contain any of the information on family affairs that occur in the memoirs of Gregorio Dati and Buonaccorso Pitti. Balestracci edits one of the account books in the appendix, fourteen pages in length including Balestracci's lengthy introduction. Typical of the entries is one dated 1475: 'And I, Iachomo Pini, have received 4 lire from Benedetto de Masaritia for lady Giovanna degli Schotti, as he promised our Giovanni Pini. These are for a hayfield sold at Bascani.' A bit more revealing is the following, dated 1479: 'Giovanni Lapini and Paolo, his son and m y son-inlaw , who currently live on the edge of Uvile in their own house, are owed sixtytwo lire on November xxvi, which are for a hooded gown of French-style cloth, like new, one bed, one bedstead like new, assessed by Guido di Simone, jacketmaker , and Fruosino di Finuccio, as recorded by the contract drawn up by Bernardino Placiti, which is, by common agreement, a portion of the dowry of m y daughter Bernardina, as I promised.' Rather than using the account books to illuminate the lives of fifteenthcentury Italian peasants, Balestracci uses recent work on the social history of late medieval Italy to illuminate the account books. The best example of this is the short, seven-page chapter entitled...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 125-127
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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