The extraordinary cultural Renaissance in the northern Italian courts of the late 15th and early 16th centuries is the subject of this volume. It starts with Baldessar Castiglione's Book of the Courtier (1528) which encapsulates this sense of renewal: his experiences at court and their subsequent rewriting form the backbone of the work. The author then addresses questions of biography, gender, genre, and the varied roles of the courtier, expanding the perspective of Castiglione's text to include the lives and writings of other courtiers and patrons. What was it like to be a courtier? What were the problems associated with such a lifestyle? The importance of women in court circles is also highlighted in studies of one of the most notable of female patrons Isabella d'Este (1474-1539) and of the theoretical developments in writing about gender, stimulated by such women. Stephen Kolsky's analysis of both well-known and comparatively obscure texts brings out the diversity of practices that constituted court society and their centrality to our understanding of the Renaissance.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Castiglione's Book of the Courtier: Before the nunciature: Castiglione in fact and fiction; Women through men's eyes: the third book of Il Cortegiano; Making and breaking the rules: Castiglione's Cortegiano; Graceful performances: the social and political context of music and dance in the Cortegiano; Old men in a new world: Morello da Ortona in the Cortegiano; Learning virtue, teaching politics. Some notes on Book Four of the Cortegiano; Equicola and Other Courtiers: Did Mario Equicola write Il novo corteggiano?; 'The good servant': Mario Equicola. Court and courtier in early 16th-century Italy; Appunti sulla biografia di Mario Equicola; The courtier as critic: Vincenzo Calmeta's Vita del facondo poeta vulgare Serafino Aquilano; Lelio Manfredi traduttore cortigiano. Intorno al Carcer d'Amore e al Tirante il Bianco; Gender at Court: Images of Isabella d'Este; An unnoticed description of Isabella d'Este's Grotta; Theorizing pleasure in the Renaissance; Male descriptions, female inscriptions (Orlando furioso, XLII, 73-96); Men framing women: Sabadino degli Arienti's Gynevera de le clare donne reexamined; Index.
'Although in some ways a highly specialized collection this is also a suggestive and rewarding one deserving attention from scholars interested in the Italian contribution to European concepts of courtly manners.' Journal of Early Modern History '... an array of fascinating and detailed insights into the world portrayed so memorably by Castiglione and into the development of ideas and cultural attitudes in one of the crucial texts of the western canon.' Parergon