Women

Jean de MARCONVILLEDe la bonté et mauvaistié des femmes.

Paris, pour Jean Dallier libraire, 1571.

8vo, full brown Levant morocco Jansenist style binding by Chambolle-Duru, spine with raised bands and gilt lettering, gilt inside frame, gilt edges. 76 numbered leaves (including the title-page). Title fleuron, headpieces and decorated initials. Complete.

Rare Third Edition of an important work on the “Women’s Quarrel”.

The author, sometimes compared to Montaigne, was a friend of François de Belleforest and André Thevet, and writes here on “the goodness and badness of women”. The work, first published in Paris in 1564, went through eight editions between 1566 and 1586. The”Women’s Quarrel”, in its narrow sense, refers to a genre of writing in Latin and French in which the superiority of one or the other sex is proposed. The earliest examples are found c.1200, and the genre as such declined markedly after 1650. It attracted few prominent writers, and was largely governed by the rules of demonstrative rhetoric. In arguing the case for or against the superiority of women, writers may employ exclusively historical examples, as does Boccaccio’s De claris mulieribus (composed 1360-74, translated several times into French), which is the prototype for many subsequent catalogues of famous women; or they may combine example with the rehearsal of theological, legal, and medical ‘proofs’ of excellence and with agreement from authority in the form of quotations from the ancients, the Bible, and the Church Fathers. The most accomplished and influential example of the latter type is Cornelius Agrippa’s De nobilitate et praecellentia foeminei sexus (composed in 1509, published in 1529; translated into French in 1530). 

From its beginnings, the Querelle is associated with clerical misogyny and misogamy, and many of its most notable contributions were written by clerics. It is also linked to female literary patronage and literary production, as in the cases of Christine de Pizan, Boccaccio, Agrippa, Marguerite de Navarre, Marie de Romieu (1581), Marie de Gournay, and Jacquette Guillaume (1668). 

Throughout the 16th and early 17thC. there was a steady stream of contributions to the debate, the most notable being those produced by Gratien du Pont (1534), François de Billon (1553), Jean de Marconville (1564), and Alexis Trousset, alias Jacques Olivier, whose infamous but highly successful Alphabet de l’imperfection et malice des femmes (1617) reproduces in expanded form an alphabet of female vices composed by a 15thC. Florentine archbishop. One of those to reply to Trousset was Marie de Gournay, whose Égalité des hommes et des femmes (1622) marks the shift of interest from rhetorical argument to the practical question of female education.

Bookplate of French collector Maurice Méric.

Small stain on leaf 41. Beautiful copy in elegant binding.

Ref. Adams, Catalogue of books printed on the continent of Europe 1501-1600 in Cambridge libraries, M-549 / Brunet, Manuel du libraire, III, 1408 / Gay-Lemonnyer, Bibliographie des ouvrages relatifs à l’amour, I, 796

Price: 3.000,00 euros

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