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Before examining the Elegy as Stampas muse, the long-standing opinion concerning the Rimes autobiographical nature should be addressed. Even a cursory review of the literature on Stampa and her Rime reveals than a biographical assumption PAGE 8 3 pervades the historiography. During the late s and early s, for example, scholars debated Stampas profession: whether she was a courtesan or not.

Stampa was an unmarried woman earning her living as a mu sician and singer in the Venetian literary salons ridotti and other public venues in a societ y that sequestered its upper-class women ostensibly to protect their chaste reputations.


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Women who mixed freely with upper-class men at social events typically were courtesans. Antonio Rambaldo di Collalto, heir to the family name of the Rimes beloved, began the practice with his publication of the Rime. His preface includes a biography of Stampa the original does not relying on the Rime as his source.

Rambaldo claims that Stampa was an innocent, young woman seduced and abandoned by her lover Bassanese, Stampa , Negativity Scholars have repeated much of Ra mbaldos biography although he based it on unsubstantiated facts and assumptions. Not unt il did an Italian scholar, Abdelkader Salza, challenge the Romantic idea of Stampa as the innocent victim of love, claiming, instead, that she was a courtesan. Determined to prove Stampa a courtesan, Salza scoured the Venetian archives for information on the poet. He unearthed previously unknown documents, such as dedications, poems, and letters, thus broa dening our knowledge of the poet and her circles of acquaintances.

However, in order to support his hypothesi s, Salza rearranged the order of Stampas Rime See Appendix A for the changes. Specifically, he divided the Rime into the Rime dAmore and the Rime varie, and he removed all poems not concerning Collaltino di Collalto the Rime s beloved to the Rime varie. By rearranging the sequence and ending the Rime dAmore with poems of contrition, Salza creates a story of repentance incompatible with the original in order to dem onstrate that Stampa was a fa llen woman who, at the end of her life, felt contrition and sought forgivene ss Jones, Bad Press He published his version of the Rime with the Rime of Veronica Franco, a known courtesan, thus implying guilt by spatial association Bassanese, Male Stampas Rime as published in the Rime de Veronica Franco e Gaspara Stampa is the version used by subsequent scholars.

Who she knew pl ays an important part in Salzas arguments, and his conclusion a bout her profession relies in part on the reputations of Stampas acqua intances. Salza examines th ese men and women and finds them morally wanting, often quoting from le tters and other documents to support his hypothesis. In another case, he interprets a letter from the nun Suor A ngelica Paola Antonia de Negri as implying that Stampa lead a sinful life b ecause de Negri attempts to persuade Stampa to avoid worldly temptations and focus on God. For more evidence Salza analyzes the Rime itself as if it were Stampas autobiography of love affairs with Collaltino di Collalto and Bartolomeo Zen.

Nonetheless, contemporary and modern scholars do not accept Salzas conclusions. In Gaspara Stampa: vita e opera , Eugenio Donadoni, a contemporary scholar, objects to Salzas fi ndings, pointing out a weakness in Salzas argument; Salza, Donadoni claims, fails to consider Stampas cultural milieu, specifically the mores of the intellectual s and literati through whose ci rcles Stampa moved.

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Stampa was, Donadoni believed, an irregolare, one of a group of indivi duals who ignored the accepted morals of Venetian societ y Bassanese, Self-Naming While Stampas possible profession did not concern all early scholars, they did not ignore her gender Bassanese, Male 46 in analyzing her poetry. Some analyze her Rime as a work of art, or in the case of Benedetto Croce, argue why it is not.

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For example, Croce, Conversazione critiche , dismisses Stampas Rime as nothing more than a autobiography composed under th e banner of Petrarchism, refusing to recognize Stampas imitation as valid because, as a woman, her emotions take priority over art Bassanese, Male In fact, by highlighting Stampas gender Fu donna Croce implies it was impossible for Stampa to write poetry at all Phillippy, Loves Maud F. Jerrolds Vittoria Colonna with Some Acc ount of her Friends and her Times provides a vivid exampl e of how early tw entieth-century sc holars devalued Stampas poetry.

In the chapter on Stampa, Jerro ld denigrates her poe try: we shall find nothing noble, nothing ideal, only an intensely passionate heart In addition, Jerrold asserts that the Rime is autobiographical: Hers is th e first literary autobiography; we do not need to go beyond her verses to know her whole history; it is a love record, in fact, of everything except nobleness Not surprisingly, Jerrold subscribes to the Romantic topos of Stampa as the victim of love: Whether any happiness could PAGE 11 6 ultimately have come from this [new love for Bartolomeo Zen] is an unresolved question, for Gaspara had felt and suffered too much; sh e had literally warn herself out and died April , when only thirty-one The p roblem with Stampas poems was that they were believed to express her unrestrained emotions su ffered during an illicit love affair.

With the advent of the Womens Libera tion Movement in the s and 70s, the attitude toward women writers, including poets changed. The most influential scholar on Stampa and her Rime and the most published on bothis Fiora A. In Bassanese published the only monograph ever written on Stampa, unfortunately now out of print. This monograph, Gaspara Stampa, is still considered the most comprehensive source on the poet: it includes a thorough discussion of the Rime s critical history; an analysis of the Rime varie ;7 a chapter comparing Petrarchs and Stampas styles and substance; an explana tion of Platonism, its history within the Renaissance, and Stam pas Platonism found within her Rime ; a chapter on the originality of the Rime dAmore ; comments on her poetrys musical qualities; and a detailed review of Stampas life.

Bassanese places Stampa within her cultural and literary milieux, but regrettably, she repeats the arguably questionable biography. Although the Rime is now the subject of wester n scholarly study, most still consider it autobiography. A few scholars avoid the questi on entirely, analyzing instead the Rime s literary heritage: Gordon Braden, Petrarchan Love and the Continental Renaissance ; Patricia B. Smarr, Gaspara Stampas Poetry for Performance , who reconstructs Stampas cont emporary literary audiences. As indicated above, previous studies have focused eith er on Gaspara Stampa the woman or on her Rime its literary heritage, its voi ce, and other poetic devicesbut no one has challenged the biographical assu mption.

My study hopes to correct some misconceptions about the Rime ; it will ask, What exactly is the Rime? Is it an autobiography detailing Stampas passions dur ing a love affair with the aristocrat Collaltino di Collalto? Is it au tobiographical because Stampa took events from this love affair and, rearranging and enhancing them, wrote a canzoniere about love? Or, Is the Rime a fiction drawn from her imagination? Th is paper takes the la st position contending that Gaspara Stampa drew inspir ation from Giovanni Boccaccios Elegy of Lady Fiammetta to compose a distinctive canzoniere that would attract critical acclaim and distinction in the crowded milieu of Petrarchan poetry.

If scholarship embraces this last position, Rime studies would be enriched with new findings and insights: not only c ould scholars continue to study the Rimes syntax, PAGE 13 8 Classical and contemporary literary references, its rhyme schemes, its musical qualities, and the like, with Petrarchs Rime sparse hovering in the background as the benchmark. Scholars could also explore the Rime s portrayal of the prot agonist and antagonist, the protagonists growth and change plotting, tone, point of view, and other literary devices.

As a result, scholars would no longer view the Rime as a projection of Stampas personality, but as a product of a skilled and imaginative poe t. We could then appreciate Stampa as a poet who envisions the emoti onal ups and downs of a tumultuous love affairthe most popular fic tion of the Renaissance.


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The thesis of this paperStampa wrote a canzoniere inspired by Giovanni Boccaccios Elegy of Lady Fiammetta requires a new unders tanding of Stampas Rime. Chapter One disputes the belief that the Rime is autobiographical by pointing out that no archival documents exist to support the biographical assumption.

Chapter Two expands on the existence of the biographical assu mption by reviewing the historiography of womens poetry with a focus on the Rime Examples of modern autobiographical theory are discussed and applied to the Rime to demonstrate how Stampas canzoniere can easily fool the reader into believi ng he is reading about an actua l love affair. Chapter Three turns to the early s Venice to review Stam pas literary and musi cal contexts and to explain why Stampa wrote what she did.

Part of Stampas literary context is autobiography, so Chapter Four examines the parameters of Renaissance life writing and compares the Rime to the requirements of this genre. Analysis of Petrarchs influence on the Rime concludes the chapter, effectively removing the Rime from the genre of autobiography to that of Petrarchan poetry. The concluding chapter sums up the papers findings that 1. Stampa did not write an autobiographical Rime 2. Desiring a unique canzoniere she turned to Boccaccios Elegy appropriating the concept of the sexually fulfilled then abandoned woman; however, seeking to create poetic space for herself to a void being labeled a son of her precursor, Boccaccio, she swerved from Boccaccio to crea te a new version of the psychological study of the abandoned female.

The chapter c oncludes with a summary of the importance of these findings and suggests areas for further research. Fiction in Gaspara Stampas Rime Gaspara Stampas biography tells us that at some point during her twenties she composed an introductory letter for a collection of poems what she referred to as her poor booklet Stampa, Selected xxxiv. She addressed this letteralthough not by nameto the landed aristocrat Collaltino di Collalto, her inattentive lover. The letter expresses hope that the poems will inform him of her suffering: Here, Your Lordship will not see the whole sea of my passions, my tears and my torments, because it is a bottoml ess sea; but only a little stream of them; nor should Your Lordship think that I have done this to make you aware of your cruelty, because one cannot talk of cruelty when there is no obligation, nor to constrain you; but ra ther to make you aware of your own greatness and to make you rejoice Stampa, Selected xxxiii.

Collaltinos obligation lasted for six to seven months, his first of two deployments during their threeyear relationship. As Stampa clearly states in the dedication and poems, he neglect ed to respond to her appeals: Since my amorous pains, which for the love of Your Lordship, I have written about in several letters and rhymes, have not been able, one by PAGE 16 11 one, to make Your Lordship take pity on me, nor to even make you courteous enough to write me one word in return.

Stampa, Selected xxxiii Nonetheless, Stampa celebrates her unrequited love, claiming in both the letter and poetry that the pain she suffers inspires her; cons equently, she does not express regret or anger for the suffering he caused her, but ironically, a joy in its presence, because it made her productive: since even in tormenting me you ar e beneficial and produce fruit Stampa, Selected xxxiii.

The relationship was for Stampa very fruitful: she wrote poems in a variety of styles, on the relationship itself. The year following Stampas death in , her sister Cassandra collected quelle che si sono potute trovare all those [poems] that could be found; Jerrold and published them along with epis tles and elegiac poems by Stampa and others.

The press Pietrasanta printed an exquisite edition with a title page, an engrav ed banner beginning each section, and historiated capitols beginning the sonnets eulogizing Stampa, Stampas dedicatory letter, and the first sonnet of the canzoniere itself. Although there are no supporting archival documents, th e biography above states: 1.

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With the exception of a few changes, the biogra phy has remained consistent for over two hundred years. The surname is Milanese, and Bartolomeo Stampa may or may not have descended from a poor branch of a great ar istocratic family Bassanese, Stampa although some scholars state matter-of-factly that the Stampas had aristocratic blood.

Shortly after Bartolomeos death in 1 Cecelia moved with her children to Venice, her home town Bellonci 29; Robi n , in order to launch her daughters careers as musical performers Jones, Currency The family occupied a house owned by Messer Geronimo Morosini in the p arrocchia dei Santi Gervansio e Protasio or San Trovaso where Stampa lived until her pre-mature death twenty-two years later.

There existed the possibility that Stampa and Cassandra, with their good voi ces and musical skills, would end up living under the auspices of a wealt hy benefactor or having a suit able marriage arranged by a doting patron. Although both girls were admi red for their exceptional musical skills, Stampa received special attention for the beauty of her voice Bassanese, Stampa 4. Four years after moving to Venice, C ecilia opened her house as a literary salonridotto; it was attended by young patricians, poets, musicians, literati, independent ladies, prelates, soldiers nobles, and foreigners Bassanese, Stampa 7; Bellonci Stampa was twelve and had received a number of years of humanist education and musical training.

Music and si nging were favored entertainment at the time, so Cecilia would have had her two daughters sing and play instruments for the guests.


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As word of the girls singing and musical talents spread, they would have attracted a variety of guest s and admirers Bassanese, Stampa 7. In her mothers ridotto and later in other ridotti including that of the patrician Domenico Veniera member of Venices highest classStampa mingled with a select group of individuals who conversed about Pe trarchan poetry and poetics Bassanese, Stampa Under such circumstances, Stampa s education, begun under Fortunio Spira, Perissone Cambio, and others, continued as she was exposed to discussions about versification, meter, rhythm, cadence, imag ery, form, and rhyme.

Women Poets of the Italian Renaissance: Courtly Ladies & Courtesans by Laura Ann

In addition, as a singer she became intimately familiar with Petr archs sonnets since all of Petrarchs PAGE 19 14 sonnets were arranged dozens of times for flut e, the guitar, and most often for the human voice Bassanese, Stampa Early in Stampas brother Baldassare a promising poet, died at the age of 19 while at the university at Padua Bassanese, Stampa 4. His death precipitated a religious crisis for Stampa, now Suor Angelica Paola de Negri, in response to the death, sent Stampa a long letter to comfort he r, and to urge her to abandon the world and retire to a convent Bel lonci ; Jerrold The following year, a friend of her now deceased brother, Francesco Sansovino, dedicated his Ragionamento damore15 to her Bassanese, Stampa 8, ; Bellonci ; Jerrol d Once again, in , Stampa was the dedica tee of a published work, this time by Perissone Cambio, her lute and voice instruct or and himself a wellrespected singer; the book was a collection of madrigals titled Primo libro di madrigali a quarto voci Bassanese, Stampa 4, 8.

On Christmas Day , in Domenico Veniers ridotto Stampa met Collaltino di Collalto,17 a landed aristocrat from Friuli, friend of many literati, a soldier, and himself a mediocre poet Bellonci This fortui tous meeting began a three-year tumultuous love affair during whic h Stampa composed her canzoniere For the most part, Collaltino ignored her advances, but Stampa persisted in writing love sonnets for him, nonetheless; PAGE 20 15 then in May , Stampa enclos ed sonnets with a letter18 and mailed it, with the poems, to Collaltino who was campa igning in France Bassanese, Stampa 17; Robin In Collaltino took her to his estate, San Salvatore, but ignored her while there Bellonci During the late s, Stampa joined the Accademia dei Dubbiosi as Anassilla, a pseudonym based on the Latin name Anaxum of the river that ran through the Collalto estate in the Veneto Bell onci Giorgio Benzone, the editor of her posthumous Rime uses Anassilla in a poem, an indica tion that the name was public currency Jones, Currency PAGE 21 16 Documented Facts This biography is repeated in articles, essays, and di ssertations, hence the term standardized used in the previous header; but how many of these f acts can historical documents verify?

The answer exists in the publications of the man who sought to prove Stampa a courtesan, the Italia n scholar Abdelkader Salza. Salza, dissatisfied with the Romantic vi ew of Stampa as a young, innocent victim of Collaltinos cruel heart, found new documents in the archives that he claims support his supposition.