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Shocked and distressed by a male writer's vilification of women, Christine de Pizan has a powerful dreamlike vision in which she is visited by three personified Virtues: Reason, Rectitude and Justice. They tell her she has been chosen to write a book which will be like a city, housing virtuous women and protecting them from feminist attack.
Heroines past and present form the foundations of this city - biblical and mythical heroines, ruling queens, Christian saints, and inventors are among them. Partly myth, partly fact, The Book of the City of Ladies is an extraordinary, pioneering and impassioned defense of women that set out to shatter medieval misogynist cliches, and serve to instill self-worth in its female listeners of the time.
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- Jill Desborough
Voice of the 1st professional woman writer
What I found most interesting about what is admittedly a lengthy tome, is hearing the voice of the first known professional woman writer. She draws on numerous historical and mythological stories to make the case in the face of entrenched medieval misogyny, for women's moral and intellectual equality with men. Admittedly I did skip through some of the chapters, but overall I admired the structure of the book as the allegorical building of the city and you have to respect her at the time pretty radical stance in the face of centuries of biblical and classical justifications for regarding women as inferior in pretty much every sphere to male predominance. The glimpses into her own life, education and obviously happy marriage were particularly interesting, and her defence of Joan of Arc.