The Last Will of Vittoria Giustini

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:
The Last Will of Vittoria Giustini

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter stretches the conventions of scholarly narrative to evoke the feel and texture of a lost event. The very effort alerts the reader to history's limitations, for what one recaptures, in the end, is of course not the past exactly as it happened. Myriad things are missing: the tones of voices, the rhythm of speech, the movements of bodies, heads, and hands, not to mention the smells—of cooking, of sickness, of death. There is the lack of precise spaces, with their light, their heat, their furnishings, their drafts, their sharp or muffled acoustics. Indeed, there is still a lack of the precise words themselves, for no recollected quotation is ever exact. The impetus is not of fact, but of drama-as-hypothesis. But it is drama—by virtue of patient, cautious archeology in texts—far more faithful to the cadences of sixteenth-century Roman family life than is any historical fiction.

Keywords: Vittoria Giustini; narrative; voices; drama; family life; fiction

Chapter.  19254 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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