The Book of the City of Ladies

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Paperback, 284 pages
The Penguin Group, 1999
First Penguin Classics Edition, Nineteenth Printing

A fascinating insight into the debates and controversies about the position of women in medieval culture, written by France's first professional woman of letters

The pioneering Book of the City of Ladies begins when, feeling frustrated and miserable after reading a male writer's tirade against women, Christine de Pizan has a dreamlike vision where three virtues—Reason, Rectitude and Justice—appear to correct this view. They instruct her to build an allegorical city in which womankind can be defended against slander, its walls and towers constructed from examples of female achievement both from her own day and the past: ranging from warriors, inventors and scholars to prophetesses, artists and saints. Christine de Pizan's spirited defence of her sex was unique for its direct confrontation of the misogyny of her day, and offers a telling insight into the position of women in medieval culture. The Book of the City of Ladies provides positive images of women, ranging from warriors and inventors, scholars to prophetesses, and artists to saints. 

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Translated and with an Introduction and Notes by Rosalind Brown-Grant

About the Author

Christine de Pizan (c.1364-1430) was France's first professional woman of letters and the author of The Book of the City of Ladies.
Rosalind Brown-Grant received her BA and PhD at the University of Manchester and is now Lecturer in French at the University of Leeds, where she specializes in medieval literature. She has published numerous articles on Christine de Pizan and is the author of Reading Beyond Gender: Christine de Pizan and the Moral Defence of Women.