Shari's Reviews > The Honest Courtesan: Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in Sixteenth-Century Venice

The Honest Courtesan by Margaret F. Rosenthal
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's review
Jun 16, 2012

really liked it
Read from June 19 to 23, 2012

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 information on her life than I had before, this is not a biography. I'm not sure that a full biography is possible given the lack of personal letters and documents beyond her poetical writings and her formulaic familiar letters.

This monograph is important for information on Franco's contemporaries and immediate predecessors in the Venetian intellectual circles as well, esp. Maffio, Lorenzo, and Domenico Venier, and Aretino, and spends particular time on the Latin elegists, Ovid, Propertius, Tibullus, and Catullus, by way of examining how the Venetian poets learned their craft.

Rosenthal's examples are in both the original language and translation. The documents in the appendices are introduced in English but presented in Italian. This is not an easy read. It takes concentration, and time. The bibliography is exhaustive (which to me means very good) and the footnotes are extremely thorough.
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