The Theme of Fortune in the Works of Christine de Pizan

Buchanan, Carole Ann (1994) The Theme of Fortune in the Works of Christine de Pizan. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis explores one of the most interesting and central themes of Christine de Pizan's works, namely the theme of Fortune, a topic which raises key philosophical isssues in any debate on divine providence, free will and chance. As such, the theme has considerable light to shed on Christine's development as a thinker and a writer. Chapter I provides a general context and focus for this study by (a) examining those aspects of Christine's life which explain why she was prompted to reflect on the nature of the goddess Fortune, and by (b) defining the categories of belief regarding Fortune that Christine would have been familiar with through her reading. This latter section also includes a discussion of the traditional remedies to be adopted against the workings of this goddess. The thesis then examines in detail the theme of Fortune as it occurs in Christine's writings. Three successive chapters (II, III and IV) look respectively at Christine's early works composed from 1394-1403, the Livre de la mutacion de Fortune (a text devoted entirely to the theme of Fortune), and finally the works composed over the period 1403-1429. Incidences of Christine's use of the theme of Fortune were identified and analysed for any significance with regard to the form of writing, the type of work, and the category of the goddess, whether Pagan, Christian or Annihilated. These features were also studied to identify any trends or evolutions in Christine's treatment of the theme It was found that neither the form of writing, poetry or prose, nor the kind of writing, secular or didactic, had much significance on Christine's use of the theme. Christine did, however, quite consistently avoid the use of the theme of Fortune in religious works. This approach reflects the Church's attitude towards the goddess which was to deny her any power. The goddess was predominantly depicted as pagan in character and negative in influence. It was also found that Christine's attitude to the goddess did evolve over time. Initially, Christine used Fortune as a target for her grief and anger, seeing herself very much as an impotent victim of this capricious goddess. Eventually, after much reflection on the nature of the goddess Christine achieves a kind of philosophical mastery over Fortune through the use of stoic virtues such as personal strength, patience, and endurance, through the development of wisdom and prudence, and ultimately through the Christian virtues of hope and unquestioning faith in God's purpose and providence.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Angus J Kennedy
Keywords: French literature, Medieval literature
Date of Award: 1994
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1994-75673
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 18:58
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 18:58

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