Coerced into taking the veil, Venetian writer Arcangela Tarabotti (1604-1652) spent her life protesting the practice of forcing girls into convents. Her fearless defense of women and attacks on patriarchal Venetian society earned her renown and access to presses. Her publications, however, invited constant controversy. Tarabotti published her Letters Familiar and Formal to protect and enhance her literary reputation while also chronicling contemporary literary society and material existence in an early modern convent. The Letters flaunted Tarabotti's literary accomplishments, humiliated her critics, and advertised her powerful network of allies in Northern Italy and France. The Letters document how Tarabotti established herself as one of the most forceful proponents for women's self-determination in early modern Europe.
"After their Italian edition of Tarabotti's Lettere (2005), Meredith Ray and Lynn Westwater have now produced the definitive English translation of this remarkable text: clear, accurate, and lively - a delight to read. Their introduction sets the historical and cultural context, while meticulous notes fully explain each letter. Altogether, compelling reading that brings the extraordinary story told by Tarabotti's Letters to an English-speaking audience for the first time."
- Letizia Panizza, Royal Holloway, University of London
Meredith K. Ray is associate professor of Italian at the University of Delaware. She is the author of Writing Gender in Women's Letter Collections of the Italian Renaissance (University of Toronto Press, 2009). Lynn Lara Westwater is assistant professor of Italian at The George Washington University. She has published extensively on women's writings in early modern Venice.
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