The Book of the City of Ladies: Discussion Post
March 18, 2012
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I hope you’ve all been able to find copies of the book and are enjoying it. I have been having a great time with Christine! Her book is so medieval in its logic and sort-of-allegory, and so different in content from any other medieval text I’ve ever read. I enjoy how Christine poses a question about the misogynist point of view and then answers it with examples from history (or legend, as the case may be). I particularly like how she takes tradition and Christianity and uses them to support her points. She makes her ideas sound obvious and like plain common sense, and yet they must often have been quite stunning to her readers.
Some questions we might discuss:
Sometimes Christine changes the story she’s telling for her own purposes: Minerva, Ceres, and other figures we know as mythological goddesses become historical women, Biblical characters act a little differently than we might remember, or stories from history are changed. Some of this probably comes from Christine’s source material; she worked from fewer texts than we have now. Some of it must come from Christine herself. What do you think about this, and was it effective for her purposes?
Some people argue over whether Christine de Pizan can really be called a feminist. What is your opinion?
Once you get to the end, tell me what you think of Christine’s recommendations for society. What changes does she imagine? What do you think of her critique of her society and women’s place within it?