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“Now the First Stone Is Set”: Christine de Pisan and the Colonial City

“Now the First Stone Is Set”: Christine de Pisan and the Colonial City

Kane, Stuart A.

Comitatus Vol.29 (1998)

Introduction

Christine de Pisan’s The Book of the City of Ladies, along with most of the criticism that deals with it, predominantly and appropriately takes gender as its main interpretive ground. The work done in the last twenty years in articulating a version of feminist historiography concerning the site of her City has produced many tremendously valuable and significant readings, toward a more complex understanding of Christine’s text. A largely overlooked but central component of her work, however, involves her selections and representations of specific non-European women, especially in Book I of the City of Ladies. By mythologizing and exoticizing her virtuous, non-European “others,” she necessarily works within the corollary textual strategy of colonialism, and writes a version of literary nationalism based on a colonial historiography.

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