The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am going to give this book four stars, for the following reasons:
It took a lot of guts to write it.
It was ground-breaking.
It serves a huge need, that of empowering and validating women.
I withhold the fifth star reluctantly but I must. The first section of the book is incredible -- personal, powerful, excellent, as Christine first agonizes over the slights and slurs and oppression that women suffer, and lays out her plan to attack it, and goes busily to work.
But then she fills a lot of space in the second section merely quoting other writers, especially Boccaccio -- rehashing some of his most dreadful tales. What woman could possibly feel inspired by the story of a wife who is lauded as a great spouse, because she allowed her husband to have their two children killed simply because he wanted it so -- saying nothing, doing nothing?
Part three is a very medieval litany of martyred saints, laid out in gruesome detail, one after another, paired with bizzare miracles, such as severed heads bleeding milk -- Mel Gibson would be proud.
I salute Christine for the importance of her work and for the beauty of her personal expressions shining through, where they do shine through. I could have done without the rest of the book.
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