Lelia's Kiss

Lelia's Kiss: Imagining Gender, Sex, and Marriage in Italian Renaissance Comedy

LAURA GIANNETTI
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 352
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442697539
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Lelia's Kiss
    Book Description:

    Lelia's Kissanalyzes gender roles, sexuality, and marriage in the Italian Renaissance through the lens of a large number of comedies from the period, ranging well beyond the traditional canon

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9753-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction: Lelia’s Kiss and Renaissance Comedy
    (pp. 3-23)

    ‘To seem to be a woman or to seem to be a man?’ is not quite as dramatic as the later ‘To be or not to be?’ of Hamlet, but often it was the question in Italian Renaissance comedy. Imagine on stage the following scene between a young couple, who will remain anonymous for the moment, and the comments of two servants who watch:

    (In a doorway with the servants Crivello and Scatizza hiding nearby watching)

    Young Man: Now what else do you want?

    Young Woman: Listen a little.

    Young Man: I’m listening.

    Young Woman: Do you see anyone out...

  5. 1 Women in Men’s Clothing: Female Cross-Dressing Plays and the Construction of Feminine Identity
    (pp. 24-75)

    In Cornelio Lanci’s comedyPimpinella(1588), an adolescent boy, Aurelio, disguised as a young girl called Ginevra, arouses the suspicion of the servant Pimpinella, who confesses to the audience her doubts regarding the gender of her mistress:¹

    I have had many desires in my day: but never greater than to discover whether my mistress Ginevra is a woman or a man.In needlework, and in many other little things, she seems a woman, yet in many others a man. I have watched to see if she developed aswe women do, but I have never seen anything, even though I...

  6. 2 Woman with Woman: ‘Ma che potrà succedermi se io donna amo una Donna?’
    (pp. 76-112)

    In Nicolò Secchi’sGl’inganni(first performed in 1547), the protagonist Ginevra, much like Lelia inGl’ingannati, pretends to be a man called Ruberto in order to live as a servant in the house of her beloved, Gostanzo.² There, dressed as a young man, she attracts the attention of Portia, Gostanzo’s sister, who falls in love with her. Not knowing how to ‘satisfy her desires’ (sadisfar a le voglie), she has her brother, Fortunato, be her substitute in bed with Portia before the play begins. When Ginevra’s non-masculine identity is discovered, Portia, pregnant and about to give birth, continues to insist...

  7. 3 Men in Women’s Clothing: Male Cross-Dressing Plays and the Construction of Masculine Identity
    (pp. 113-152)

    If, in the theatre of the early Cinquecento, dressing as a man was necessary for certain female characters to leave the house, dressing as a woman was a regular ploy used by male protagonists to reverse things and enter the homes of their mistresses. It also served to disguise their identity from enemies, avoid penalties inflicted by governments, escape slavery or make it more livable, or to play tricks (beffe, burle) on old and foolish patriarchs. In such cases, the reversal of clothing and gender was not only instrumental for achieving the protagonist’s goals; crossdressing allowed for the social scripting...

  8. 4 Pedants, Candlemakers, and Boys: Sodomy and Comedy
    (pp. 153-192)

    Perhaps the most famous comedy of the sixteenth-century, Machiavelli’sMandragola(1518), is a play in which male/female love triumphs as physical passion: after a series of trials, the young lover Callimaco consummates his love for Lucrezia, the wife of a foolish old lawyer, Messer Nicia. The ‘heterosexual’ script of the comedy is reinforced at the end by the promise that the adulterous union blessed by Lucrezia’s husband will provide him with his longed-for ‘little brat’ (naccherino) along with his unrecognized horns. In a nice flourish of self-referential metatheatricality, the birth of a baby boy to the young lovers and the...

  9. 5 The Playing of Matrimony
    (pp. 193-232)

    In a Renaissance dialogue,La Raffaella(1539) by Alessandro Piccolomini, the go-between Raffaella teaches the young, pretty, and unhappily married Margarita the art of finding a satisfying lover:

    Margarita: Certainlythis arranging of marriage completely in the dark is an evil practice, because many times two people are forced to marry with opposite natures and diverse customs.

    Raffaella: So what. There is a very easy remedy, and it is to give oneself up totally to the love of someone whoskillfully makes up for the unhappiness that one suffers with a husband

    The dialogue of Piccolomini – although apparently a simple...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 233-282)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 283-304)
  12. Index
    (pp. 305-333)