The Cultural Politics of Duke Cosimo I de' Medici

Konrad Eisenbichler (book editor), Gabrielle Langdon (review author)
2000 Quaderni d'Italianistica  
Recensioni The editors' introduction "The Honoured Courtesan," provides a biography and cultural context for Franco's letters and poems, where she dramatizes her connections with men friends employing her skill with sexual and rhetorical nuancing. Franco's letters shed light on her intricate biography and her many social concerns. Although much of her correspondence is concerned with legal matters (her economic situation, her wills, her Venetian Inquisition trials accusing her of practising
more » ... ntations), nevertheless the chosen selections show an important portion of the wide spectrum of social connections that enriched and also complicated Franco's personal and culmral life. Letter 22 is of particular interest as it focuses on one of Franco's main lifelong concerns-the condition of the woman in Venetian societ}'. In her lucid depiction of the life, responsibilities, risks, and sacrifices of being a respected and honoured courtesan. Franco responds to a mother's inquiry for advice by stating that only an evil mother would wish for her daughter to become a courtesan because "among all the world calamities, this is the worst." Franco's high regard for a good marriage was informed by her deep concern for women, whether single, unwed mothers or penitent prostimtes, whose need for shelters she repeatedly reiterated to the Venetian government. Simated just after a rich body of critical material on Franco in the past decade. Franco's poetry and letters, translated so accurately into the idiomatic diction of today, are especially welcome. The realism, the immediac)', and concerns of the original, mirror in a telling way the feminist predicaments of today. This study represents an important addition tf) the Series not only because of the expert use of English to convey the letter and spirit of the Italian original, not only because it enriches the stock of Italian Renaissance texts in translation suited to cultural studies, gender/women's studies, and the several related fields, but also because it continues to consolidate the discourse affirming that women's voices must be recognized as sources and origins of the maturing feminist tradition, and of the restrucmring of social institutions taking place in our contemporary societies.
doi:10.33137/q.i..v21i2.9408 fatcat:mok3g5dkxbexvnpfjfpzhiz53q