Christine de Pizan (ca. 1364–ca. 1431) has long been recognized as France’s first professional woman of letters, and interest in her voluminous and wide-ranging corpus has been steadily rising for decades. During the tumultuous later years of the Hundred Years’ War, Christine’s lone but strong feminine voice could be heard defending women, expounding the highest ideals for good governance, and lamenting France’s troubled times alongside her own personal trials. In The Mutability of Fortune, Christine fuses world history with autobiography to demonstrate mankind’s subjugation to the ceaselessly changing, and often cruel, whims of Fortune. Now, for the first time, this poem is accessible to an English-speaking audience, further expanding our appreciation of this ground-breaking woman author and her extraordinary body of work.
“Geri Smith’s full English version of Christine de Pizan’s monumental universal history, the Mutacion de Fortune, is a feat of Herculean proportions. This prose translation of the great majority of this mostly-verse composition, completed with an elegant summary of the less prominent passages, makes the work available to English-language readers. Smith follows the original Middle French with precision and delightfully captures the often piquant quality of Christine’s turns of phrase. The division of the text into short segments facilitates reference to Suzanne Solente’s critical edition. Footnotes summarize Solente’s key findings while providing a valuable repertory of subsequent studies related to specific passages. Smith’s translation is an impressive milestone in the dissemination of Christine de Pizan’s works.”
Vassar College, Emerita, French and Francophone Studies
GERI L. SMITH, Professor of French and Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at the University of Central Florida, is author of The Medieval French Pastourelle Tradition: Poetic Motivations and Generic Transformations (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009), among other works on late medieval poetry and theater.
Iter and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2017
The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series 52
Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 514
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