The work was an example of a courtesy bookdealing with questions of the etiquette and morality of the courtierand was very influential in 16th-century European court circles. One hundred and eight editions were published between and alone. The Fortunes of the Courtier: He died soon after, inand was memorialized in a celebrated statue by Michelangelo. Get to Know Us. However, inafter the death of his father, Castiglione left his studies and Milan to succeed his father as the head of their noble family. His mother, Luigia Gonzaga, who to her own sorrow outlived her son, placed this memorial to him in They had no children.
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Start your review of El cortesano Write a review Shelves: translated-from-italian , visited-location-while-reading When I opened this book today to attempt to review it, a bookmark fell out.
Reviewing the book now feels like finally closing the chapter on that trip. I had set out for Italy with three books in my bag, one of which was this one. Although it is three months since I returned home, and although the other two books have been finished and reviewed months ago, this book has hung on, if When I opened this book today to attempt to review it, a bookmark fell out. Although it is three months since I returned home, and although the other two books have been finished and reviewed months ago, this book has hung on, if not to my attention, at least to its place on my reading pile — though fifteen further books were finished in the meantime.
And so, as the December evenings got longer and darker, I forced myself to return to the The Book of the Courtier and to the discussions by a group of Italian noblemen and women which Baldesar Castiglione has recorded in this book.
The discussions took place over the course of four winter evenings in , in the salon of the Duchess Elisabetta Montefeltro of Urbino on the occasion of a visit to the ducal palace by a group of dignitaries from Rome. The subject was the ideal courtier, how he should behave, how he should dress, how he should converse, and how he should love.
That final aspect lead to a discussion of the ideal lady. She was allowed to be witty but mostly she had to be coy, and especially, never to speak out of turn or call attention to herself in any way.
The other main interest for me was the way the book echoed places I visited on my Italian trip. The bookmark I mentioned at the beginning was a leaflet I picked up when I visited the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche which is located in the Ducal Palace in Urbino where the conversations in this book took place. So there I was, moving from one sumptuous room of the palace to another, viewing the art treasures in the Marche collection, when, around a corner and across a little corridor, I found myself entering the room that had belonged to Elisabetta, Duchess of Montefeltro.
This was the salon in which the discussion of the ideal courtier took place more than years ago. As I had read a third of the book at that stage, I was quite thrilled to be there. La Muta means the silent one — which fits well with the role of the women in this book. Speeches by women take up about 5 pages out of , and they are very short and always to the point. The rest of the book is taken up with long and involved speeches by men. He mentions that although almost all of the people present in the discussions were dead by the time he published this account in , the new Duke of Montefeltro, Francesco della Rovere, was still living.
It was convergences like this that made reading this book memorable for me.
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