Academic journal article Medium Aevum

An Introduction to Christine De Pizan

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

An Introduction to Christine De Pizan

Article excerpt

Nadia MargoHs, ?a Introduction to Christine de Pi%an, with foreword by R. Barton Palmer and Tison Pugh, New Perspectives on Medieval Literature: Authors and Traditions (Gaínesville, Fla: University Press of Florida, 2011). xxxiii + 272 pp. ISBN 978-0-8130-3650-2. $69.95.

This well-written and well-conceived volume aims to show Christine de Pízan as 'much more than an early feminist author'; as Nadia MargoHs states, Christine was *a pioneering intellectual', possibly 'the first woman humanist' or, more precisely, 'the feminine voice in French humanism' (p. xí). MargoHs's survey of Christine's life and her prolific literary output illuminates the ways that Christine - informed by her knowledge of both Italian and Latin but writing exclusively in French, and within French traditions - exemplifies the medieval and early modern concept of humanism, with its emphasis on the 'use of classical learning in civic affairs' (p. xí) and its goal of merging Christian spirituality with classical literature and philosophy. Aimed primarily at students or other non-specialist readers - though also useful for more experienced scholars seeking an integrated view of this complex and important author - the book offers a timeune situating Christine's life and works in their historical context and a genealogical table identifying Christine's patrons in the Valois dynasty. The first chapter, fleshing out the timeline, narrates Christine's life and works in some detail, showing how the turbulent politics of late medieval France affected her and how she became increasingly engaged in social and political debate. The following chapters survey her literary output: lyric poetry, love debates, dits, and the querelle de la Rose in chapter 2; historical, political, and religious writings in chapter 3. MargoHs notes the innovative qualities of Christine's writing, 'her commitment to reforming every topic and genre she touched' (p. 28). In her lyric and narrative love poetry, she wrote in well-established verse-forms but developed a wide range of personae and explored sometimes unusual perspectives, with increasing attention to her anti-Ovidían, anÚ-Roman de la Rose 'revision of the moraHty of love' (p. …

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