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The Honest Courtesan: Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in Sixteenth-Century Venice
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The Honest Courtesan: Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in Sixteenth-Century Venice (Women in Culture and Society)

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  312 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
The Venetian courtesan has long captured the imagination as a female symbol of sexual license, elegance, beauty, and unruliness. What then to make of the cortigiana onesta—the honest courtesan who recast virtue as intellectual integrity and offered wit and refinement in return for patronage and a place in public life? Veronica Franco (1546-1591) was such a woman, a writer ...more
Paperback, 408 pages
Published February 1st 1993 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1992)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,171)
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Mar 22, 2009 Lesliemae rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-writers
I like reading anything that supports empowering women in difficult scenarios. Rosenthal tracks the life of Veronica Franco (portrayed in pop-culture in the movie Dangerous Beauty). Franco born into an economically struggling family, her mother worked as a prostitute/courtesan, and trains her daughter in the trade. While this sounds horrific, you really have to understand that during the Renaissance women were severely limited in education, role (mother or nun), and intellectual capacity (Aristo ...more
Nov 20, 2012 Shari rated it really liked it
Margaret Rosenthal is a literary historian and this volume is full of precise literary history. It is strong both on Franco's work and the classical authors to whom writers of 16th-century Venice paid attention. The difficult capitolo in "terza rima" meter that Franco practiced necessitated that poets be worth their salt and Rosenthal takes her time to be exhaustive in her explications. If you are looking for a formal biography of Veronica Franco, you won't find it here. While there is more info ...more
Feb 08, 2015 Ubiquitousbastard rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, nonfic, europe
This book was utterly dry and kind of a chore to read. I am a fan of nonfiction, but that doesn't mean it has to feel like you're reading a dispassionate, technical description of everything about the topic. I didn't like the overly scholarly language, I didn't like the way that quotes were introduced repetitively, and I didn't like the huge chunks of Italian right in the text. If I were bilingual in Italian, it wouldn't have bugged me, but seeing as I know about ten words in Italian, it made me ...more
Rebecca Huston
Sep 06, 2010 Rebecca Huston rated it it was amazing
A very good, if somewhat dry, biography about Veronica Franco, a courtesan of sixteenth century Venice. Not for everyone. The poetry is gorgeous, though, and very moving. This was turned into the movie Dangerous Beauty. Five stars.
Roman Clodia
Jun 25, 2016 Roman Clodia rated it really liked it
Veronica Franco, beautiful Venetian courtesan and accomplished poet, may be best known as Catherine McCormack's character in the film Dangerous Beauty. However, the real woman was far more provocative, challenging and engaging than anything the film could imagine.

Rosenthal takes a wide view and places Franco within her historical, cultural, literary and economic milieu with breathless ease and fine judgement. Not a biography, although it does include biographical elements (such as they can be re
Sylvia Torres
Sep 01, 2010 Sylvia Torres rated it liked it
a literary delight thus far..
Apr 23, 2013 Pam rated it really liked it
I read this book a couple of years ago.It still thrills! The essence of the "TRUE" story centers around the Venetian Courtesan (cortigiana onesta)aka_"The Honest Courtesan" Veronica Franco(1546-1591).We all know "what the oldest profession" is_since it's been around since the beginning of time.However,Franco was a woman before her time & the Laws that governed what women can and can not do,regardless of profession.She was a citizen of Venice whose published poems and rich letters give testim ...more
I read this book back in 2008? I don't remember but I know I read it, perhaps only a quick read and it was my first book on Feminism and I remember it to be a very dull one to read and too scholarly for casual reading. So this is not a book I highly recommend to everyone. But should check out "Poems and Selected Letters" by Veronica Franco. I'm planning to.

I recently watched the the movie version based on the book just to see the accuracy and- Oh well. It's the same story. Veronica Franco in th
Dec 10, 2015 Nathan rated it really liked it
This book is very dense, but is very well written. Rosenthal is able to create a biography of Veronica Franco by introducing Franco's literary works, her actions, and the impact she had on the restrictive patriarchal society in which she lived. I am very glad I got to know Franco as well as I did and grateful for Margaret Rosenthal's excellent telling of her story.
May 02, 2011 Jeanine rated it really liked it
I have mixed feelings on how to rate this book. The book is well organized and the selected pieces of writing along with their translations are lovely. This book, however, feels like it was written by a 9th grader. There are awkward paraphrases that precede the presented writing that are essentially the same words. She bores you with blah passive structure and sentences that say "Interestingly," Calling it dry is being almost too polite. Yet the content keeps the reader engaged, so go figure. If ...more
Aug 13, 2013 Beth rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
While I found Franco's life and poetry fascinating, Rosenthal tends to wander a bit in the discussion of external subject matter. A half dozen pages on the evolution of Venetian poetry to explain why she wrote a particular poem the way she did seems like overkill. I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get my point. Overall, this is a really interesting read about an equally interesting woman.
Kate Lowell
Jun 08, 2014 Kate Lowell rated it liked it
Shelves: research
It was an interesting book, but a bit dry. More of a scholarly tome--which is what it is--than something that is meant to paint a vivid picture of the person. Overall, it had interesting and useful information, and I was able to piece together some of the implied information from the text rather easily.
Aug 20, 2009 Lucy added it
Read this one years ago- but I'm planning on re-reading it since it's really non-fiction and there's so much info that needs refreshing. I'm interested in understanding her poetry in more depth. Bit of a heavy read -but incredibly interesting. I also don't have the review for good incentive as well.
Mar 14, 2008 Koe rated it it was ok
I could never get very far into this book. I'm a big fan of history even history that's rather dry. This book though goes a step beyond ordinary dryness and bores even me.

I suspect if I already had a much better understanding of Veronica Franco and her time I'd find the book much more interesting.
Shannon Vyff
Mar 15, 2008 Shannon Vyff rated it it was amazing
I had seen the movie Dangerous Beauty, then heard about the book. Reading it, the customs and the times--fascinated me, it was sad to hear an outcome not at all as 'Hollywood' as the movie, quite humbling--and helped me grow as a person. Veronio Franco is still a hero....
Jul 25, 2012 Michele rated it liked it
i have to be in the right mind set to read this, text like style book. right now, i need books to take me to another plain, where i can escape for a few hours in to the fantastical. sso far it is very informative, but just a revisit me type of book.
Feb 25, 2010 Stephanie marked it as to-read
I read about this woman in my History of Women's class in college, and then got a chance to see the movie based on her life. I've been meaning to read this, but I forgot the title! Now I can!
Nov 03, 2008 Lafang rated it liked it
Much as I loved Dangerous Beauty (the movie) I found this history a bit tough going. It IS worth reading, and yes indeed, Hollywood did gloss over and falsify the end of Veronica's life.
Oct 08, 2008 Momo rated it liked it
Movie based in part on this piece of work entitled Dangerous Beauty. Saw the film first, was intrigued as to who Veronica Franco was, and read the book. Amazingly sultry stuff!!
Sep 26, 2009 Robin marked it as to-read
Just watched Dangerous Beauty, the '98 movie based on this book. It (plus other books on my currently-reading list, have got me thinking about womens' roles.
Jul 27, 2007 Becky rated it it was ok
This book was just very hard to get through. It should be read more for the history of wars and civil battles of the time than for the life of Veronica Franco.
Aug 31, 2009 Liz added it
Been wanting to read this and couldn't find it anywhere. I think it's out of print. My library happened to have it though...about keeled over when I saw it.
Jul 05, 2008 Tracy rated it really liked it
I first fell in love with the movie Dangerous Beauty. So when I came upon this book I had to get it. I love the story of Veronica Franco - and the history.
Jan 26, 2012 Robyn rated it really liked it
Very interesting. I read it in Italian, definitely worth the effort. The Spanish Inquisition and the history of prostitution all in one book.
Anne Marshall
May 25, 2008 Anne Marshall rated it it was ok
Shelves: auto-bio
A lot dryer than I expected - not enough biographical or anecdotal information. Veronica Franco's letters and poems were very well written.
Jan 23, 2012 MountainShelby rated it really liked it
I read this book in 1992. It's research-based, so the book is not for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Apr 28, 2010 Elmira rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Too academic for what I wanted to know about her. I didn't finish, although it seemed to be a very good book.
May 14, 2009 Daphne added it
Shelves: stopped-reading
After a while, this just started to drone on and on. It was interesting, but could have been about 50 pages shorter.
Apr 17, 2011 AnaΣtaΣia rated it liked it
It takes your imagination on a journey when Venice was a queen amongst the cities of Europe....
Apr 21, 2012 Maia marked it as to-read
Also from the lovely little used bookstore directly into my covetous hands.
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“Do you know what my daughter's nurse told her today? "In a girl's voice lies temptation - a known fact. Eloquence in a woman means promiscuity. Promiscuity of the mind leads to promiscuity of the body." She doesn't believe it yet, but she will. She'll grow up just like her mother. Marry, raise children and honor her family. Spend her youth in needlepoint and rue the day she was born a girl. And when she dies, she'll wonder why she obeyed all the rules of God and Country for no biblical hell could ever be worse than a state of perpetual inconsequence. ” 13 likes
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