While there is a long history of viewing Boccaccio's De mulieribus claris (Famous Women) as a misogynist text in response to which Christine de Pizan's Livre de la Cité des Dames (Book of the City of Ladies) constitutes a proto-feminist critique, this essay compares these works for their similarities rather than their differences. Boccaccio and Christine are both profoundly concerned with marital affection, an emotion in a state of flux in late-medieval Europe. Through narrative, both authors attempt to theorize how this emotion should be experienced and performed by the virtuous wife. In De mulieribus and Cité, Boccaccio and Christine struggle to develop narratives of marital affection distinct from courtly love traditions, even as they repeatedly draw on courtly love to establish emotional authenticity. As a result, narrative cruxes and inconsistencies in De mulieribus and Cité point to emotional cruxes and inconsistencies, to aspects of marital affection that were difficult and troubling to late medieval societies.
Lynn Shutters; Boccaccio, Christine de Pizan, and Marital Affection: The Case for Common Ground. Comparative Literature 1 September 2016; 68 (3): 274–295. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-3631567
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