in Love & Death in Renaissance Italy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2004 | ISBN: 9780226112589
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226112602 | DOI:

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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The book Love and Death in Renaissance Italy presents short stories that try to evoke the sixteenth-century Italian play of life. As historian, the author is especially drawn to moments where the fields of play meet in dramatic, crazy, ironic ways. Choice, and that semifreedom-amid-constraint called agency, are often best illustrated when the choices themselves are sharp and strange. A trial itself makes for hard choices, as witnesses are often caught between their yen for safety from the law of perjury and their loyalties to social allies who need lies. Many a witness plays risky forensic games. The stories themselves, behind the trials, offer many moments where imperatives clash. Silvia Giustini juggles compassion for her dying sister, loyalty to her black-sheep brother Ascanio, and family solidarity with the other brothers. Francesca the wet nurse, though obliged as governess to protect teenaged Innocentia, aches to help her erstwhile milk-son seduce the girl. Prosecutor Alessandro Pallantieri, serial rapist of adolescent girls, plays doting father to the children his cruel liaisons engender.

Keywords: short stories; sixteenth-century Italy; agency; choices; social allies; perjury

Chapter.  5391 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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