A Nostalgic Filter: A University of Pittsburgh Exhibition

Book of the City of Ladies

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Français 607

Widely regarded as the first French author of any gender to earn a living through writing, Christine de Pizan published poems and political commentaries that were widely read and admired in her lifetime. Close to fifty books were created in her own scriptorium under her supervision, demonstrating her remarkable agency despite the misogyny of the time. Christine reacted with disgust to the passive and objectified representation of women in the Roman de la Rose, also included in this section; in response she wrote the Book of the City of Ladies, represented in Pitt’s library by this partial facsimile. The frontispiece shows Christine twice, visited by three crowned Virtues and constructing a wall around the City of Ladies, each block representing a notable historical woman.
Hailed as a feminist icon today, Christine de Pizan continues to reach new readers thanks in no small part to the critical edition and translation published by Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, President of the Medieval Academy of America for 2020-2021 and Distinguished Professor Emerita of French and Italian at Pitt.

This manuscript has been fully digitized and is available at the website of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

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