Kissing the Wild Woman

Kissing the Wild Woman: Concepts of Art, Beauty, and the Italian Prose Romance in Giulia Bigolina'sUrania

CHRISTOPHER NISSEN
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 336
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2ttrsm
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  • Book Info
    Kissing the Wild Woman
    Book Description:

    Kissing the Wild Woman's analysis of this little-known work adds a new dimension to the study of Renaissance aesthetics in relation to art history, Renaissance thought, women's studies, and Italian literature.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9602-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Urania, nella quale contiene lʹamore dʹuna giovane di tal nomeis the oldest Italian romance, in prose or verse, known to have been written by a woman.¹ It has also languished in all but total oblivion for 450 years. Although these facts alone surely help to make it a worthy object of critical study today, my purpose in writing this book has not merely been to point them out, but also to demonstrate thatUraniaought to be regarded as a unique literary creation of great importance, ranking among the finer works of imaginative prose produced by the Italian Renaissance....

  5. 1 The Reformation of the Prose Romance
    (pp. 11-61)

    Giulia Bigolina was born in or shortly after 1516, most likely in Padua, then a part of the Republic of Venice. The Bigolin, as they are known in the local dialect, were an aristocratic Paduan family which at that time happened to include among their holdings the house in nearby Arquà that had once belonged to Francesco Petrarca.¹ It is easy to imagine that this intimate connection with the legacy of the famous poet must have been a part of the family lore during Bigolinaʹs upbringing and that it could not have failed to impress her as she formed her...

  6. 2 Writing a Portrait
    (pp. 62-100)

    By the middle of the sixteenth century, Pietro Aretino was one of the most famous figures in Italian literary culture, renowned both in Italy and beyond the Alps. His genius and talent for promoting his own efforts had carried him from humble beginnings in Arezzo, where he had been born in 1492, to the courts of the papacy and Mantua, where he made a name for himself as a writer of satirical poems and epigrams, as well as a variety of other works. His tendency to compose artful critiques of powerful figures, as well as salacious poetry, got him in...

  7. 3 Ekphrasis and the Paragone
    (pp. 101-143)

    The Greek prose romanceDaphnis and Chloe, written by Longus around the second century of the Christian era, opens with a scene of ekphrasis, the literary description of a work of visual art. The narrator tells how he once came upon a painting in a sacred grove in Lesbos and gazed upon it in fascination (17). The painting seemed to tell so remarkable a love story that the narrator finds himself compelled to seek out someone who knows which events inspired the images, so that they can be retold in words. The romance itself is the result: therefore, we never...

  8. 4 The Sight of the Beautiful
    (pp. 144-188)

    AlthoughUraniaoften reflects the influence of the doctrinal debates on the nature of love and beauty that pervaded the culture of mid-Cinquecento Italy, it is still first and foremost a love story, not a didactic work of philosophy. Its protagonist, much like a hero of chivalric romance, is called to do great deeds and demonstrate her loyalty in the name of love. This emphasis on the need for action is evident right from the beginning of the proem, wherein Bigolinaʹs authorial persona declares that true lovers are those who persevere in ʹamorevoli operationiʹ (tasks of love), instead of giving...

  9. 5 Kissing the Wild Woman
    (pp. 189-222)

    The character Urania is the fictional counterpart to Bigolinaʹs authorial persona in the proem. This is confirmed not only by the lesson on the moral implications of portraiture, which Bigolina learns and Urania already knows, but also by the two charactersʹ experiences on the edge of ʹwildness.ʹ When Bigolinaʹs persona looks within the eye of Judgment she sees not only her sensual aspect and her vanity but also the sort of wild otherness that lurks beneath the surface of humanity and that has the potential to make her – and all of us – unfit to live in civil society.¹...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 223-230)

    Bigolinaʹs reformation of the often neglected and overlooked genre of the Italian prose romance ultimately appears to be quite substantial. Although her masterpiece resembles the standard prose romance as established by Boccaccio and his followers in its superficial features, upon closer inspection it reveals traits that set it in a class by itself. Bigolina reaffirms the value of erotic love, which had been viewed with suspicion in the works that follow Boccaccioʹs model, thereby restoring toUraniaone of the salient traits of the ancient romance. She greatly enhances the didactic function of the genre, which heretofore tended to confine...

  11. Appendix: Bigolinaʹs Will in the State Archive of Padua: Text and Translation
    (pp. 231-240)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 241-292)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 293-314)
  14. Index
    (pp. 315-333)