A Comparison of "The Book of the Family" and "The Selected Letters"

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During the Renaissance, many writers were authoring "how-to" books. At the same time, mail correspondence was the main form of communication. This gives readers and historians the golden opportunity to perform some comparisons, and to paint a picture of what life was like in the renaissance. In The Book of the Family Leon Battista Alberti illustrates to his readers through dialogue, his vision of the perfect family. Alberti wrote his book in dialogue form, featuring the elder Giannozzo conversing with the young Leonardo. They discuss important family topics such as thrift, friendship, work, health, housing, economics, children and how and whom to choose as a wife. Alberti stresses thrift with family resources and money, hard work in…show more content…
In the question of whether Alberti's visions for a family translated into Alessandra's world the facts are conflicting, and careful analysis will allow historians and readers to find areas where they do and don't to reach their ultimate conclusion. Alberti's first topic is thrift. He explains a system of spending that depends on need, value and honor in which the wise person spends money where it is needed, on goods of value, and isn't miserly. Giannozzo tells Lionardo: "With every expenditure one must only be sure that the cost is no greater or heavier or larger than is needed, yet no less than honor requires." Alessandra spends much of her time writing about money matters. family. Her son in-law Marco followed custom of honor in dressing his wife fits this idea of honor. When he bought his wife clothing and adornments, he spent lavishly, "he had a garland of feathers and pearls made [for her] which cost eighty florins, the headdress underneath has two strings of pearls costing sixty florins or more. When she goes out she'll have more than four hundred florins on her back." For the daughter of a local ruling family and his wife, it was his honor and duty to see her well dressed. This fits with Alberti's recommendation to "keep my household well dressed, each member in accordance with his situation." While this seems like an inordinate amount of money, and wholly against all ideas of
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