November 9, 2013

"Yet women are... 'fickle, quarrelsome, suspicious, weak, and fearful'... 'tirelessly lustful.'"

"Strong men may imperil their health by trying to fulfill their sexual demands. So, in order for life to proceed calmly, women must submit to men and, above all, be chaste... Those who do not obey their husbands should be beaten," writes Joan Acocella in The New Yorker, paraphrasing something a female character says in  Boccaccio's "Decameron."
In support of that view, Boccaccio ends his book with what has become the famous story of “patient Griselda.” Gualtieri, the Marquis of Saluzzo, has no wish to marry, but his subjects pressure him. So he takes, as a wife, a peasant girl, Griselda. In time, Griselda gives birth to a daughter and a son. Both babies are taken away from her, with the strong suggestion that they will be put to death. Griselda makes no protest. So Gualtieri tightens the screw. He declares that he needs a noble wife, not a peasant. Stoically, Griselda returns to her father’s house, leaving even her dresses behind, since she feels that they belong to her husband. Soon Gualtieri calls her back, saying that he needs her to oversee the preparations for the wedding. “Gualtieri’s words pierced Griselda’s heart like so many knives,” but she agrees. On the wedding day, a boy and a girl appear whom Griselda does not know. Gualtieri introduces the girl as his bride-to-be. Griselda praises her. Finally, Gualtieri can go on no longer. He tells Griselda that the boy and the girl are her children (he had them brought up by kinfolk in Bologna), and that he is taking Griselda back, more beloved now: “I wanted to teach you how to be a wife”—that is, submissive.
Much more at the link as Acocella reviews a new translation and compares it to other translations.

Also at the top link: much feistier women and much sexier stories. Read the one about the barrel.

14 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Women are the named subject of this Boccaccio diatribe, but his Italian approach is most typical of the attitude taken by priests of a false religion towards their submitted subjects.

betamax3000 said...

"Yet women Bathroom Attendants are... 'fickle, quarrelsome, suspicious, weak, and fearful'... 'tirelessly lustful.'"

Context.

Michael K said...

Personally, I prefer Browning's My Last Duchess.

madAsHell said...

The author is very disturbed.

Sam L. said...

I couldn't get into the article.

Big Mike said...

I don't think I'd want a wife who wasn't feisty. Or perhaps after almost 39 years I've gotten used to feisty.

Paddy O said...

Well, this explains the mentality behind the Obamacare implementation.

YoungHegelian said...

"...tirelessly lustful..."

I wonder if this meme that women are more lustful than men is an idea that the Italian Renaissance literati glommed from their readings of newly discovered (in the West at least) Greek literature? The Greeks, at least the classical Attics, thought that feminine sexual had to be kept of a short leash as it was so voracious & disruptive (e.g. the legend of Tiresias, those Attic vases with women & dildos -- they had to do something for release while locked up in the house).

I may be wrong here, but I don't remember any Medieval moralists or literati, going on about the insatiable nature of female sexuality in particular. There are lots of sluts in Medieval fabliaux, but nobody thinks they're a problem except their cuckolded husbands.

William said...

Fifty shades of Griselda. How do you know that this wasn't some woman's fantasy passed along by Boccaccio?

Inga said...

At first I thought Althouse was quoting one of any number of misogynists that comment here.

YoungHegelian said...

@Inga,

I don't remember any complaints about "tirelessly lustful" by the resident misogynists.

The other categories, well, yeah.

surfed said...

What a good read at the link. Thanks Professor.

Unknown said...

See also Shrew, The Taming of

Ann Althouse said...

"What a good read at the link. Thanks Professor."

Thanks for noticing.

I've subscribed to The New Yorker, and I really am impressed at how much great material there is in there … on such a variety of things.