MARINELLA, Lucrezia.


MARINELLA, Lucrezia. La Nobiltà et l’eccellenza delle donne.

Venice, [n.p.], 1601.


4to. pp. [8], 326. Italic letter, little Roman. Woodcut printer’s device to title, decorated initials and ornaments. Light age yellowing, occasional damp mark or foxing. A very good copy in contemporary vellum, early ms title to spine, C19 armorial label of Joaquim Gomez de la Cortina and ms 38 to front pastedown, c1800 ms bibliographical note to fly, and ‘Ex Bibliotheca D. Corratin suprema Parisiensi curia Praesidis’ to title verso.

A very good copy of the second, revised and augmented edition of this wonderful book in praise of women, by a major female author. The Venetian Lucrezia Marinella (or Marinelli, 1571-1653) was daughter of Giovanni Marinelli, a physician who wrote popular works on women’s illnesses. She never married, and lived a secluded life devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and literature, whilst encouraging other talented female writers of her time. A key theme of her works was the defence of women. First published in 1600, ‘La Nobilità […] delle donne’ rebutted a work on women’s defects by Giuseppe Passi. Part I celebrates women, describing their resilience in a man’s world, from the names they are called (‘donna’, ‘donno’, ‘giovinetta’) to their nature and beauty, and the sayings and proverbs created by men about women, moving on to various categories of women, illustrated through examples from literature and popular ‘wisdom’. These include ‘women learned in the sciences and the arts’ (‘some who have not read much history think there were never women knowledgeable in the sciences and the arts’), and women who are meek, strong, fearless, prudent, courteous, and just. A chapter is devoted to the tolerance, resilience and suffering of women, and how they love the men in their lives, and a rebuttal of the ‘feeble’ reasons men have contrived to feel superior to women, with a confutation of theories by Tasso and Boccaccio. Part II is a ruthless list of categories of men – avaricious, greedy, incontinent, arrogant, lazy, ambitious, cruel, unjust, evil, stubborn, ungrateful, rude, and then thieves, murderers, witches, charmers, liars, heretics, tearful, false, chatty, hypocrites, ‘holier-than thou’, ignorant and flatterers. Interesting is a section on men who are ‘well-dressed, trimmed, and wear make-up and bleached hair’, and generally vain. A most interesting, quite unusual work, as written by a woman.

The Mexican Joaquim Gomez de La Cortina, later marquess of Morante, was a major C19 bibliophile, with a library of over 100,000 books on the classics or unusual subjects. He died after a fall from the ladder in his library.

Four copies recorded in the US. USTC 4035192; Gay IV, 419; Erdmann, p.111. Not in Hull.
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