Summary of the book of the city of ladies

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summary of the book of the city of ladies

The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan

In dialogues with three celestial ladies, Reason, Rectitude, and Justice, Christine de Pizan (1365-ca. 1429) builds an allegorical fortified city for women using examples of the important contributions women have made to Western Civilization and arguments that prove their intellectual and moral equality to men. Earl Jeffrey Richards acclaimed translation is used nationwide in the most eminent colleges and universities in America, from Columbia to Stanford.
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Christine de Pizan

In her study, taking a break from her work, Christine de Pizan picks up a slim volume someone has given her. Shocked by the author’s harsh and extreme portrayal of the immoral and inconstant nature of women, Christine is saddened by this state of affairs. A flash of light startles.
Christine de Pizan

The Book of the City of Ladies

One day, Christine de Pizan sits down in her library and decides that she'd like to do some light reading. She puts the book away and tries to get on with her life. But it's no use; she can't stop thinking about the book, and she begins to think that she's been cursed by being born a woman. Lady Reason tells Christine that she's wrong for thinking that women are bad. In fact, Lady Reason is so convinced of this that she tells Christine de Pizan to build a great city for all the best women in the world to live in. Feeling rejuvenated, Christine gets to work.

In her study, taking a break from her work, Christine de Pizan picks up a slim volume someone has given her. A flash of light startles her, and three women, allegorical figures representing Reason, Rectitude, and Justice, appear to her. They tell her she is to build the City of Ladies and populate it with the noblest and most accomplished women the world has known. The city is to serve as a safeguard against the cruel accusations of men as well as a reminder of the true and laudable nature of women. Lady Reason takes Christine to the Field of Letters, a fertile plain where the city is to be built, and encourages her to use her pen to start excavating the earth so they can lay the foundations that will support the City of Ladies. Reason first tells of women who have distinguished themselves in the political and military realms, individuals who have judiciously ruled vast realms as well as defended those realms from insurgents and attacks from beyond their borders. Next, she discusses learned women, like Christine, who have developed their intellectual capacities.

Written in praise of women and as a defense of their capabilities and virtues, the work is a significant feminist argument against the misogynist male writing of the day. The Book of the City of Ladies has a three-part structure. The first section introduces the three Virtues—Reason, Rectitude, and Justice—with whom the author communes. Christine then tells the stories of 11 ladies of political and military accomplishment, 18 ladies of learning and skill, and 4 ladies of prudence. The Book of the City of Ladies.

How It All Goes Down

These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. Pizan is puzzled to see that so many people believe in those lise and is curious to find about their motive. As she studies even more books, she finds that many more male writers have the same ideas about women. Christine gets discouraged and begins to cry, cursing the fact that she was born a woman. As Christine sits and cries, three women appear in the room.

Pizan uses the vernacular French language to compose the book, but she often uses Latin-style syntax and conventions within her French prose. Pizan combats Meun's statements about women by creating an allegorical city of ladies. She defends women by collecting a wide array of famous women throughout history. These women are "housed" in the City of Ladies, which is actually the book. As Pizan builds her city, she uses each famous woman as a building block for not only the walls and houses of the city, but also as building blocks for her thesis. Each woman added to the city adds to Pizan's argument towards women as valued participants in society. She also advocates in favor of education for women.



  1. Dorene D. says:

    The Book of the City of Ladies - Wikipedia

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