Literature whose sole purpose is to identify and revile as distinctively female a set of negative characteristics has a long if not illustrious history. The cultural discourse of misogyny reinscribed and legitimized the social, economic, and political subjugation of women in works such as Ovid’s On Women’s Cosmetics (ca. 15–5 B. C.), Juvenal’s Sixth Satire (early second century), Tertullian’s The Appearance of Women (ca. 200), Jerome’s Against Jovinian (c. 393), high medieval misogynist writings and satires (Boc-caccio*’s Il Corbaccio (ca. 1356) and the anonymous Fifty Proverbs on the Nature of Women), and Renaissance* conduct
literature aimed at curbing the natural tendencies of women. Thought to be weaker, less intelligent, and more prone to sin than men, women are identified in misogynist treatises as lustful, vain, arrogant, loquacious, deceitful, petty, avaricious, gluttonous, ill-tempered, physically disgusting, and a curse and a burden to men. The conventions of misogynist writing were familiar to all writers and readers, but a surprising number of both rebelled against the received wisdom to mount spirited defenses of the worth (and in some cases even the superiority) of women. Misogynist writing, while no longer a genre, an end in itself, is still an inevitable corollary of reading sexual difference as the founding distinction in human beings, the primary locus of significant difference.
See also: Querelle des Femmes: Renaissance; Querelle des Femmes: Eighteenth Century.
Bibliography: Bloch, R. Howard. Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991; Blamires, Alcuin, ed. Woman Defamed and Woman Defended: An Anthology of Medieval Texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992; Tuana, Nancy. The Less Noble Sex: Scientific, Religious, and Philosophical Conceptions of Woman’s Nature. Bloo-mington: Indiana University Press, 1993.
REGINA F. PSAKI
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Tarabotti, Arcangela (1604–1652) Relegated to a convent at thirteen, Arcangela Tarabotti became, and remained throughout her life, a fierce feminist polemist. In La semplicita` ingannata (Simplicity deceived), written at twenty but published posthumously in 1654, and in L’inferno monacale (Nuns’ Hell), edited and published by F. Medioli only in 1990, Tarabotti protested her forced confinement and that of Castiglione, Baldesar (1478–1529) The Book of the Courtier, published in 1528, is Castiglione’s most famous and influential work. The numerous translations and editions available during and after the sixteenth century attest to the book’s wide diffusion in and impact on every important court in Europe. Although at the time it was received principally as a guide to contemporary
Conduct Querelle des Femmes: Renaissance The humanist debate about woman’s nature—known as the querelle des femmes in France and the questione femminile in Italy—occasioned, as Gerda Lerner has noted, the first discussions in Western literature about gender as a social construct. Not only did the early querelle interrogate received assumptions that women were by nature the intellectual and physical inferiors Nobel Prize Since its inception in 1901, the Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to five Italian writers: Giosue` Carducci (1906), Grazia Deledda (1926), Luigi Pirandello* (1934), Salvatore Quasimodo (1959), and Eugenio Montale (1975). Deledda, one of a handful of women ever to receive the Nobel Prize, was honored mainly for her 1920 novel La madre Ariosto, Ludovico (1474–1533) The literary works of Ludovico Ari-osto and the stance of their author within the sixteenth-century debate on women (the querelle des femmes*), have long been the subject of feminist inquiry. Although many of Ariosto’s shorter works have little to do with promoting feminism, and some, like his ‘‘Satire V’’ (1519), rely on typically misogynist tropes,
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