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Letters Familiar and Formal

Coerced into taking the veil, Venetian writer Arcangela Tarabotti (1604–1652) spent her life protesting the practice of forcing girls into convents. Her fearless defense of women and attacks on patriarchal Venetian society earned her renown and access to the presses. Her publications, however, invited constant controversy. Tarabotti published her Letters Familiar and Formal to protect and enhance her literary reputation while also chronicling contemporary literary society and material existence in an early modern convent. The Letters flaunted Tarabotti’s literary accomplishments, humiliated her critics, and advertised her powerful network of allies in Northern Italy and France. The Letters document how Tarabotti established herself as one of the most forceful proponents for women’s self-determination in early modern Europe.

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"After their Italian edition of Tarabotti’s Lettere, Meredith Ray and Lynn Westwater have now produced the definitive English translation of this remarkable text: clear, accurate and lively -- a delight to read. Their introduction sets the historical and cultural context, while meticulous notes fully explain each letter. Altogether, compelling reading that brings the extraordinary story told by Tarabotti's Letters to English-speaking audience for the first time."

-Letizia Panizza, University of London

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Arcangela Tarabotti: A Life of Letters 1
A Note on the Translation 41
Abbreviations 44
Map of Seventeenth-Century Venice including the Convent of Sant’Anna 45
Letters Familiar and Formal Presented by Arcangela Tarabotti to Her Most Illustrious and Esteemed Patron Giovan Francesco Loredano 47
The Tears of Arcangela Tarabotti upon the Death of the Most Illustrious Signora Regina Donati 285
Bibliography 297
Index 309

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