Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Genealogy of Women: Studies in Boccaccio's De Mulieribus Claris

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Genealogy of Women: Studies in Boccaccio's De Mulieribus Claris

Article excerpt

Stephen D. Kolsky, The Genealogy of Women: Studies in Boccaccio's De mulieribus clans, Studies in the Humanities: Literature - Politics - Society 62 (New York etc.: Peter Lang, 2003). 254 pp. ISBN 08-204-6183 0. $65.95/7pound;43.00.

This book provides an introduction to the De mulieribus clans through a series of enquiries into Boccaccio's sources, the principles involved in structuring and shaping the work, and the author's general handling of his female subjects. Above all, Kolsky highlights the Christian humanism of the author, who, he argues, struggles against his former vernacular poetic self and the ideals about women that are presented in the Decameron. Kolsky states in the introduction his intention to 'unpick the feminist straitjacket into which Boccaccio's text has been confined', and he raises the question of whether or not the work is misogynistic. Bearing in mind the implications of the feminist debate surrounding the work, he attempts more generally to fathom the Overall meaning' of a text he describes as 'frustrating reading'.

In the first chapter, the phases of the work's composition are discussed, and Kolsky looks for patterns in or organizing principles behind Boccaccio's grouping of women. Chapter ii concerns Boccaccio the humanist, focusing on the influence of Petrarch and classical historians. The third chapter argues for the way in which classical exempla and Christian behaviour are shown in the work to be compatible, and examines models including Jerome, Dante, and Vincent of Beauvais. In considering the relationship of the De mulieribus with Boccaccio's earlier works (specifically the De casibus virorum illustnum and the Decameron), chapters iv and ν argue that Boccaccio's attitude towards woman shifts from the stereotype of her as sexually charged to a more general appraisal of her achievements in a variety of areas, and that this mirrors the author's 'metamorphosis fmmpoeta to humanista . …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.