The Court and Its Critics: Anti-Court Sentiments in Early Modern Italy
Published: March 2020© 2020
312 Pages, 6.50 x 9.25 x 1.00 in, 12 b&w illustrations
Anti-courtly discourse furnished a platform for discussing some of the most pressing questions of early modern Italian society. The court was the space that witnessed a new form of negotiation of identity and prestige, the definition of masculinity and of gender-specific roles, the birth of modern politics and of an ethics based on merit and on individual self-interest.
The Court and Its Critics analyses anti-courtly critiques using a wide variety of sources including manuals of courtliness, dialogues, satires, and plays, from the mid-fifteenth to the early seventeenth century. The book is structured around four key figures that embody different features of anti-courtly sentiments. The figure of the courtier shows that sentiments against the court were present even among those who apparently benefitted from such a system of power. The court lady allows an investigation of the intertwining of anti-courtliness and anti-feminism. The satirist and the shepherd of pastoral dramas are investigated as attempts to fashion two different forms of a new self for the court intellectual.
1. The Courtier
2. The Lady
3. The Satirist
4. The Shepherd
"The Court and Its Critics is an outstandingly well-researched and engagingly written monograph, revealing a new analytical purchase on Cinquecento politics. While offering the kind of intricate textual analysis that is the hallmark of a literary critic, Paola Ugolini toggles deftly between text and context, considering reception as well as wider social, economic, and political settings."Sarah Gwyneth Ross, Department of History, Boston College
“Paola Ugolini’s is the first major study to offer a systematic examination of anti-court discourse written largely by courtiers themselves, in a remarkably wide range of genres. We know pieces of the textual tradition she traces in this study, but Ugolini puts this mosaic together to form a whole, adding to the corpus of anti-courtly texts by such major authors as Sannazaro, Ariosto, Aretino, Tasso, and Guarini, and a massive collection of lesser-known writings by more minor figures. The result is a discursive landscape in which something that has always been present becomes visible in its full contours, where the trees become a veritable forest of anti-courtly sentiment.” Deanna Shemek, School of Humanities, University of California, Irvine