The Book of the City of Ladies

by de Pisan Christine

Other authorsMarina Warner (Foreword), Earl Jeffrey Richards (Translator)
Paper Book, 1982




New York : Persea Books, c1982.


Christine de Pizan's Livre de la Cite des Dames (1405) is justly renowned for its full-scale assault on the misogynist stereotypes that dominated the culture of the Middle Ages. Rosalind Brown-Grant locates the Cite in the context of Christine's defense of women as it developed over a number of years and through a range of different texts. This study shows that Christine's case for women nonetheless had an underlying unity in its insistence on the moral, if not the social, equality of the sexes.

User reviews

LibraryThing member grheault
Ladies, ladies! Christine de Pizan, in the 15th century, gives courtly advice, and its rather good, up to date, interesting. Her mere existence as a writer is testimony to her courtly skills.
LibraryThing member page.fault
I read this in the 9th grade (and I know what a walkman is, so you can judge for yourself how long ago that was), so I'm pretty sure that (a) I didn't precisely get the maximum value out of the text, and (b) my memories do not do the book justice. I did a project on the role of women in medieval
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and renaissance times, and had a very hard time convincing my teacher that primary sources from the female perspective basically didn't exist. This is one of the very, very few examples. In the book, de Pizan discusses contemporary stereotypes of her gender and argues against certain negative portrayals. At a time in which women were considered to be ruled by passion, while men were ruled by reason, de Pizan argues strongly that women should also be ruled by reason. She does, however, maintain a dichotomy between the sexes, attributing gentleness, compassion, etc, to women and (if I remember correctly) decisiveness and action to men. She argues that the differences in nature between the genders itself implies an inherent difference in the roles that the gender is designed to take. To me, her argument here is interesting in itself, as she does not appear to address how she herself is in a position typically held by men. She also has a long section in which she expounds upon the female's role as wife and her duty towards her husband. An interesting but not precisely entertaining read.
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LibraryThing member littleredcow
I like Christine de Pizan -- she resonates with me, and strikes me as a woman with a very clear voice and definite confidence. What's really interesting is, she's extremely defiant, but somewhat passive-aggressively so...always apparently demurring and humbling herself, yeah, but at the same time,
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totally (and freely) re-interpreting basically all of history and literature in favor of all the Ladies out there. I mean, she's talking to these goddesses like Boethius talks to Philosophy. She puts herself right at the center of the stage, for to later enlighten women. I don't know how else to say it: She has guts. And she's really, really bright and well-educated. Maybe I'm just a nerd, but I consider her a role model for young women.
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LibraryThing member Unreachableshelf
A fifteenth proto-feminist tretise that women's virtue and capacity for learning is equal to men's, largely told through examples from Christian and Classical history. Anybody who is planning to write a work of historical fiction or fantasy in a world similar to Renaissance Europe with feminist
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heroines would do well to take Christine de Pizan in an example in how to make a character seem believably a product of her time rather than of the twenty-first century.
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