December 12, 1980

The Renaissance Notion of Woman: A Study in the Fortunes of Scholasticism and Medical Science in European Intellectual Life

Author Affiliations

University of Chicago


by Ian Maclean, 119 pp, $16.50, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1980.

JAMA. 1980;244(23):2671. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310230065034

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The purpose of this book is not to propose a general view of the place of women in Renaissance society, which the author believes would be premature. Nor is it to introduce readers to the relevant scholarly literature: he himself has read Walter Pagel rather than Allen Debus on Paracelsus, and he had read Castiglione without the help either of Ettore Bonora or of Ghino Ghinassi. Nor, indeed, is it to review the well-known literary sources, such as the sonnets of Vittoria Colonna, the novelle of Bandello, the Diporti of Girolamo Parabosco, and the Heptameron of Marguerite of Navarre, none of which is mentioned. The purpose of this book, rather, is to present an orderly catalogue of all the texts that contain some reflection of the "notion" of women in certain specific fields: theology, ethics, medicine, and law.

In some instances, a brief synopsis of the text is given, occasionally