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Katia Frey on Le livre de la cité des dames
8 April, 2021
Christine de Pizan, a successful writer and one of the first women living from her profession, aims with this allegorical text, to rehabilitate the position of the woman in society and in theory. She narrates a utopian project of a female community performing the conception, planning, and building of the city. This city is carried on by exemplary women and personified virtues: reason setting the foundations, rectitude constructing the buildings, and justice erecting the city fortifications. As the author, Pizan reverses the traditional narrative of the founding of the city, which makes use of a typical assignment of roles based on gender and space. As the town planner and architect, she conceives of the city as a refuge and place of self-fulfilment for female identity, in anticipation of Virginia Woolf’s plea for ‘a room of one’s own’.