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Christine and the Rose before the Debate

Christine and the Rose before the Debate

(p.37) 1 Christine and the Rose before the Debate
Debate of the Romance of the Rose
Christine de Pizan
University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores Christine de Pizan's major defense of women and their rights before the literary debate sparked by her on the highly popular and widely read Romance of the Rose. The chapter reviews the period of Christine's early career, extending from The God of Love's Letter (May 1, 1399), Moral Teachings (1399 or 1402?), and The Debate of Two Lovers (1400?), which shows her opposing the clerical establishment by her tendentious definition of the female voice as the “other” voice, speaking against a characteristic mistreatment of women. What distinguishes Christine, and in fact defines the significance of the debate over the Romance of the Rose, is her adamant staking out of a position as a woman in the male-dominated world of letters. More than a verbal protest against obscenity or misogyny (which it certainly is), the debate is an active counterassault against an entire intellectual establishment to which women were solely the object of discussion, and which greatly limited their ability to take up the subject position in speech.

Keywords:   Christine de Pizan, Middle Ages, Romance of the Rose, City of Ladies, mistreatment, women, obscenity, misogyny

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