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The resolution of a paradox: Alexandre de Pontaymeri's response to the Querelle des femmes

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The Querelle des femmes was ultimately the victim of its own virulent antagonism. While humanism may have instilled a fresh vigour into the medieval polemic by uncovering new evidence culled from the Ancients and the Church Fathers, as well as from medical and legal sources, such arguments, far from convincing and converting, only strengthened uncompromising attitudes and soon lost the lustre of their novelty. Clearly the debate could not be resolved, if resolution were indeed to be sought, through the further accumulation of examples, but only by a re-examination and reinterpretation of the evidence. This process of re-evaluating historical and contemporary myth and fact suggests that the Renaissance version of the querelle is far from being merely a tedious repetition of familiar assertions. Jean de Marconville, for example, accepts the irrefutable arguments of both feminists and anti-feminists, but by examining them from a new perspective, he is able to marvel at both ‘la bonte’ and ‘la mauvaisete’ of women. At the end of the sixteenth century, Alexandre de Pontaymeri would offer another solution to the long-standing impasse by invalidating one of the principal methods of argumentation long utilized by the detractors of women. Through a revisionist view of history, Pontaymeri's Paradoxe apologique (1594) purports to resolve the querelle and to establish at last woman's rightful role. (pp. 246–256)

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1477-4658.t01-1-00019

Affiliations: Indiana University, Bloomington

Publication date: June 1, 2003

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