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Laura Sanguinetti White, Andrea Baldi, and Kristin Phillips eds. Essays in Honor of Marga Cottino-Jones.

Laura Sanguinetti White, Andrea Baldi, and Kristin Phillips eds. Essays in Honor of Marga Cottino-Jones. Florence: Edizioni Cadmo: 2003.

The thirteen critical essays and one short story that comprise this volume certainly speak to the quality and breadth of Margo Cottino-Jones influence as a scholar and a teacher. Her interests in medieval and Renaissance writings, the role of women and the importance of film and cultural studies are carried on across generations of Italian scholars. The collection begins with Michael Sherberg's clever reinterpretation of the theme and function of sodomy and laughter in the Decameron, a reading inspired by Cottino-Jones's more sympathetic interpretation of the role of Pietro di Vinciolo and ends refreshingly with Irene McKenna's Boccaccian type tale of trompeurs trompes although the tricksters here are Vatican males who have certain surprises awaiting them. In fact wit, insight and solid research characterize all the essays in this collection.

Three essays provide original research on the works and roles of women writers in the Renaissance, Enlightenment and contemporary periods. Elissa Weaver in, "Antonia Tanini, Playwright and Wife of Bernardo Pulci," replaces the epithet wife in her title by showing how "Antonia Tanini emerges as an unusually accomplished author at a time when few women shared this experience (37). "The life and works of Luisa Bergalli (1703-1779), the first anthologist of women poets, are reviewed by Francesca Savoia and Luisella Bovio. Arnold enters unclaimed territory with her essay on the "tradition" of mountain-climbing women whose fight to pursue and write about their "lofty" goals was often seen as selfish since this pursuit interfered with their moral and civic role as caretakers in society.

Close textual analyses are found in Cario Celli's revaluation of De Sanctis's unflattering judgment of Guicciardini in the latter's Storia d'Italia as well as the influence of Savonarola on Guicciardini, Andrea Baldi's dissection of rhetorical strategies against women in Sperone Speroni's Dialogo della cura familiare (1533), Kristen Phillips's reinterpretation of the process of portraiture in Il libro del Cortigiano and Laura Sanguinetti White's analysis of the topos of the book in Alfieri's writings. Glenn Pierce's essay on Marco Boschini's La carta del navegar pitoresco demonstrates how his research on the lesser known ars poetica was focused on reinterpreting mannerism in the visual and literary arts. Theodore Cachey focuses on the misunderstood genre of the Baroque Italian travel writing, a model of aesthetic tourism," which reflected the concrete situation of estrangement of the Italian traveler from any particular national political home.

Several of Cottino-Jones's students work in film studies and the two excellent essays here, Cristina della Coletta's well-substantiated challenge to the classification of Visconti's Ossessione as the first neorealistic film and Francesca Santovetti's defense of Sciascia's ambiguous stance against the Mafia in his work Porte aperte and Gianni Amelio's filmic adaptation are tine examples of how intertextual and generic references can be used to elucidate texts and connect literary analysis to cultural contexts. In the final critical essay in the volume, Rita Cavigioli analyzes the theme of the mother-daughter conflict in Susanna Tamaro's Va dove ti porta il cuore and Margaret Mazzantini's Il catino di zinco, two family sagas from gli anni del riflusso. Cavigioli's analysis of differing representations of two grandmothers in these two narratives serves as an excellent prelude to her book on aging, intergenerational relationships in Italian literature and society.

The editors have done a tine job in eliminating almost all typos and in keeping the style of the five essays in Italian and nine written in English consistently concise and easy to read. There is no general bibliography yet one essay that of Kristin Phillips includes a selected bibliography in addition to footnotes. There is also no general introduction but the volume concludes with a bibliography of Margi Cotton-Jones's major publications. Some essays indicate what is to come from the author; others synthesize work that has been done. At any rate, the essays here will be of use to a majority of students and professors of Italian civilization and literature.

CAROL LAZZARO WEISS

University of Missouri-Columbia
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Author:Weiss, Carol Lazzaro
Publication:Italica
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 22, 2006
Words:672
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