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The Nobility and Excellence of Women and the Defects and Vices of Men

Edited and Translated by Anne Dunhill
With an Introduction by Letizia Panizza
A gifted poet, a women’s rights activist, and an expert on moral and natural philosophy, Lucrezia Marinella (1571-1653) was known throughout Italy as the leading female intellectual of her age. Born into a family of Venetian physicians, she was encouraged to study, and, fortunately, she did not share the fate of many of her female contemporaries, who were forced to join convents or were pressured to marry early. Marinella enjoyed a long literary career, writing mainly religious, epic, and pastoral poetry, and biographies of famous women in both verse and prose.

Marinella’s masterpiece, The Nobility and Excellence of Women, and the Defects and Vices of Men was first published in 1600, composed at a furious pace in answer to Giusepe Passi’s diatribe about women’s alleged defects. This polemic displays Marinella’s vast knowledge of the Italian poetic tradition and demonstrates her ability to argue against authors of the misogynist tradition from Boccaccio to Torquato Tasso. Trying to effect real social change, Marinella argued that morally, intellectually, and in many other ways, women are superior to men.

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Series by Margaret L. King and Albert Rabil Jr.
Introduction to the Translation by Letizia Panizza with Anne Dunhill
The Nobility and Excellence of Women, and the Defects and Vices of Men
Part I: The Nobility and Excellence of Women
Chapter 1: On the Nobility of the Names Given to the Female Sex
Chapter 2: The Causes That Produce Women
Chapter 3: Of the Nature and Essence of the Female Sex
Chapter 4: The Reasons for Men’s Noble Treatment of Women and the Things They Say about Women
Chapter 5: Of Women’s Noble Actions and Virtues, Which Greatly Surpass Men’s, as Will Be Proved by Reasoning and Example
Chapter 6: A Reply to the Flippant and Vain Reasoning Adopted by Men in Their Own Favor

Part II: The Defects and Vices of Men
Chapter 4: Of Wrathful, Eccentric, and Brutal Men
Chapter 12: Of Obstinate and Pertinacious Men
Chapter 13: Of Ungrateful and Discourteous Men
Chapter 14: Of Fickle, Inconstant Men
Chapter 15: Of Evil Men Who Hate Others Easily
Chapter 22: Of Men Who Are Ornate, Polished, Painted, and Bleached
Chapter 30: Of Men Who Kill Their Mothers, Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, and Grandchildren

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