Christine de Pizan: The Book of the Mutability of Fortune

The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series, Vol. 52

Christine de Pizan: The Book of the Mutability of Fortune

Edited by Geri L. Smith
2017 | 978-0-86698-570-3 | Paperback 6 x 9 in
MRTS 514 | $44.95 |

OVEME v.52.
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.


Reviews

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.
—Christine Reno, Vassar College, Emerita, French and Francophone Studies