Biography Reviews

©1996-2013
womeninworldhistory.com


An Introduction to Christine De Pizan

by Nadia Margolis

In the midst of the “Christine Boom,” the plethora of contemporary scholarship about the fascinating medieval writer Christine De Pizan (1364/65 - 1430/31), comes this book, part of the University Press of Florida New Perspectives on Medieval Literature, Authors and Traditions series. In it, Margolis provides a detailed full account of De Pizan’s life and her place as a literate woman writing in the public world of men. It also helps define Christine as a product of her period as well as ways she has been read over the centuries and assimilated into “a surprising array of cultures and contexts up to the present-day”.

Most useful for teachers who use some of De Pizan’s writings as primary sources are Margolis’ brief summations of most of her work. Margolis says that on doing so, she wishes to “educate non-medievalist” readers to all of De Pizan’s works while “also providing a reference in the field of Christine studies for more advance English-speaking scholars.” The book first discusses De Pizan’s early works, the lyric poetry and debates. The following chapter looks at the later works, those which are historical, political, and religious. Time is spent, of course, in close analysis of some of the pieces which have received the most critical attention, such as the City of Women, Song of Joan of Arc, and Christine’s fiery letters when she entered the debate on the Romance of the Rose.

A chronology of Christine’s works and the key historical cultural events that help shaped her life is provided. There is an impressive almost fifty page glossary which is helpful for anyone dipping into the world of medieval Europe, and an over thirty page bibliographical guide, reflecting the abundance of Christine studies in recent years.


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