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To Sylvia Vance, my thanks for helping me with the English language

To Sylvia Vance, my thanks for helping me with the English language

Obviously, they are not satisfied with the creative skill of God; in their own person, without doubt, they censure and criticize the Maker of all things!

White, Allon 5, 7, 96, 102, 109–10, 166, 217n48, 217n53 Williams, Linda 46, 200n11 witticism 5–6, 9–11, 28–30, 73, 112, 127, 129, 146–7, 150, 157, 159–60, 229n40 woman: as angel-like 6, 20–1, 24, 26–8, 32, 34, 87; as animal-like 23–4, 58, 62, 64, 72, 112; as antiLaura 7, 81–2, 114, 117–18, 120, 127, 167; blonde 3, 133–4, 167, 187n1, 224n12, 226n28; darkhaired 6, 8, 122, 133–4, 136, 138–44, 149, 167, 224n11, 225n14, 229n38; dark-skinned 6, 8, 133, 136, 144–9, 167, 229n42; devilish 6, 27–8, 49–50, 220n17; exotic 8, 127, 144–5, 148–51, 163; facchino 8, 107–11, 114, 126; filthy 6, 8, 23, 80, 108, 110, 112, 114, 126, 160, 163, 165; as guardian 7, 41–2, 44–8, 50–5, 59–62, 64–5, 166, 201n20, 206n53; gypsy 8, 9, 145, 148, 229n4; hag 6–7, 21, 23, 25–6, 35–9, 49, 52, 55, 60, 65, 70, 72, 78–80, 110, 119–20, 125, 165, 220n16, 205n45; as heretic 53, 69, 70; hunchback 33, 35–7, 63, 129, 131, 163, 198n67; and make-up 12, 13, 156, 190n50; as metaphor 11–12, 157; mountain-dweller 7, 8, 107–8, 110, 112–14, 204n42; as object 44–5, 106–7, 130, 132, 143, 145, 147, 164, 166; old 5, 8, 10, 14–15, 22, 24, 26, 32, 34–5, 37–42, 45–73, 75–81, 110, 113, 115, 119–20, 125, 132, 134, 152–8, 163, 165, 188n7, 192nn20–1, 192n23, 199nn2–3, 204n40, 204n45, 205n47, 209n72, 230nn44–5; and ornamentation

Freudian study of sexual attraction/repulsion in relation to the sense of smell, with its link to Eros and Thanathos, is crucial to explain medieval comic poetry’s insistence on the ugly woman’s bad smell

Index 259 11–13, 60, 66, 112, 189n2; as Other 4–5, 8, 15, 81–2, 89–90, 95–6, 99, 101, 105, 107–8, 110, 112, 114, 126–7, 144–5, 148–51, 158, 162, 166, 209n1, 229n37; peasant 6–7, 52, 68, 81–2, 87, 89–90, 93–7, 99, 101, 105–14, 128; prostitute 7, 22–3, 41, 60, 66, 68, 71–2, 76, 79–81, 166, 195n39, 205n46, 207n58, 208n66, 209nn71–2; slanderer 55–7, 59–60, 65; slave/ servant 9, 146–7, 163–4, 167, 227nn31–2; widow 30, 68, 73–5, 198n74, 203n35; wild 58, 61, 63–5,

67–9, 203n39, 204n42; witch 7, 16, 24, 32, 41, 54, 58, 61, 63–73, 75, 79, 166, 192n22, 205nn48–9, 205n51, 205n54, 205n56, 208n68 Wright, Charlotte, 169 Zaccarello, Michelangelo 70–1, 206n52 Zancan, Marina 188n3 Zazzaroni, Paolo 140, 154, 159, 224n8, 228n34, 229n41 Zemon Davis, Natalie 55, 92, 202n31, 204n43, 214n24 Zetzel, Labert, Ellen 91

chapter 3 appeared as ‘Discourse of Resistance: The Parody of Feminine Beauty in Berni, Doni and Firenzuola’ (113, no. 1 : 192–203)]. I would also like to acknowledge Quaderni d’italianistica, where material in chapter 2 appeared as ‘La vecchiaia femminile nella poesia toscana del XV secolo’ (19, no. 2 : 7–23). Some of the primary sources discussed in this book were not readily available for general consultation; special thanks go to Richard Landon of the Thomas Fisher Library of the University of Toronto for allowing me to consult material from their collection. I am also grateful to Marina Litrico of the Biblioteca Trivulziana for her generous assistance in making some texts available, and to the staff of the Sala Manoscritti of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence. Finally, my immense gratitude goes to my husband, Ron Ritter, and to my family for sustaining me in this project over the years.

male imagination. Within the boundaries of the early Italian literary tradition, marked by the exclusion of female voices and women’s writing, it is inevitably the male author who portrays women as ugly, old, dishonest, disgusting, and ridiculous; it is the male writer who performs on the feminine literary bodies his rhetorical, misogynistic, and parodistic experiments.5 Ugly bodies, unfit to provide male gratification, become loci of fierce attack and denigration or a source of scorn and paradoxical praise. The four chapters show different strategies male writers have adopted to represent the ugly woman: vituperation, parody, paradox, and witticism. Methodologically, this study is indebted to both traditional rhetoric-stylistic text analysis and to a feminist approach, which is effective in unveiling recurring stereotypes and topoi involving unattractive women. The theory of voyeurism developed in Freudian psychoanalysis and its connection with ‘visual pleasure’ inaugurated by Laura Mulvey in feminist film theory helps us to interpret medieval poems on the old guardian: the ugly woman guards and also looks, thereby revealing transgressive attitudes punished by the male authors. The Bakhtinian concept of the Carnivalesque/grotesque body helps illuminate Renaissance poetry about lower-class women, whose physical representation disrupts traditional concepts of female beauty in hegemonic literary production. Peter Stallybrass and Allon White’s Politics and Poetics of Transgression has served as a useful guide to unveiling the connection between bodily representations of high and low strata, social/class hierarchies, and the construction of the female Other as low and where can i get a mail order bride degraded. Some theoretical feminist reflection on verbal description as a technique of bodily fragmentation and domination proved relevant to the representation of both the beautiful and the ugly female body. Finally, Julia Kristeva’s Powers of Horror and Mary Russo’s The Female Grotesque provided general reference points for the entire study and enabled a delimitation of its boundaries and an option for a definition of ‘female ugliness’ rather than for the grotesque or abject espoused by Russo and Kristeva respectively.6 Medieval and early modern literature, embedded as they are in the patriarchal system, can give a powerful picture of the cultural discourse about female beauty, its norms, and its transgression. The modes of representation of feminine beauty from the Middle Ages to the sixteenth century reflect the classical concept of beauty: beauty is harmony,

the Yahwist version of creation and that of figural representation in a way that has continued to dominate thought on gender well into our own age’ (39). The traditional misogynist topos of women and ornament and decoration is crucial in Tertullian’s treatise on the apparel of women, De cultu feminarum (circa 202).10 This moral tract tackles two aspect of women’s ornamentation, or ‘cultu.’ Dress and jewels, make-up and coiffure are associated each with one sin: ambition and prostitution respectively.11 Changing one’s appearance to improve one’s looks means tampering with one’s God-given appearance. Cosmetics reveal unlimited pride. A woman who paints her face, dyes her hair, or attempts to conceal her age is considered a follower of the devil. Tertullian’s De cultu states: In illum enim delinquunt quae cutem medicaminibus urgent, genas rubore maculant, oculos fuligine porrigunt. Displicet nimirum illis plastica Dei; in ipsis redarguunt et reprehendunt artificem omnium. Reprehendunt enim cum emendant, cum adiciunt, utique ab aduersario artifice sumentes additamenta ista, id est a diabolo.12 (For, surely, those women sin against God who anoint their faces with creams, stain their cheeks with rouge, or lengthen their eyebrows with antimony. Surely they are finding fault when they try to perfect and add to His work, taking these their additions, of course, from a rival artist. This rival is the Devil.)

In the medieval mentality beauty and ugliness are opposite categories, and ugliness, as absolute negativity, is represented as antithetical to

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