With this translation of Marinella’s Exhortations to Women and to Others if They Please we can now read another crucial text from her extensive body of work, one that signals a radical ideological shift from her best known text, The Nobility and Excellence of Women; we can thus enjoy a fuller picture of the author and her opinions. Only three copies of Exhortations have been located in any library, and in the absence of a critical edition this translation will prove to be a point of reference for scholars and students alike. Benedetti’s thorough introduction situates Marinella and her works within early seventeenth-century Venetian culture and the Counter-Reformation more broadly, in a way that is profoundly influenced by philology and is also theoretically sound.
Maria Galli Stampino
Associate Professor of French and Italian
University of Miami
After writing an epic poem, a pastoral, an allegory, a treatise, and many hagiographical works, Lucrezia Marinella (1571?–1653) added yet another genre to her impressive list of publications: a book of advice. For her last published volume, Exhortations to Women and to Others if They Please, the 74-year-old author summoned all her erudition and persuasive skill for a discussion of issues ranging from women’s behavior to childrearing to the virtues necessary for orderly civic life. The work also features a surprising recantation of the progressive ideas Marinella had proudly championed almost half a century earlier in The Nobility and Excellence of Women. The author’s bleak portrayal of an educated woman’s life, together with her praise of traditional female virtues, is emblematic of the negative attitudes towards women’s creativity and learning that had become prominent in seventeenth-century Italian culture.
LAURA BENEDETTI is the Laura and Gaetano De Sole Professor of Contemporary Italian Culture and Chair of the Italian Department at Georgetown University. She is the author of La sconfitta di Diana. Un percorso per la Gerusalemme Liberata and The Tigress in the Snow: Motherhood and Literature in Twentieth-Century Italy (winner of the 2008 Flaiano International Prize for Italian Studies).
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