Modern Criticism : Modesta Pozzo

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Modesta Pozzo or Moderata Fonte (Venice, 1555-­1592), although little known to modern criticism before around 1980, is now recognized as one of the most accessible and appealing of sixteenth century Italian women writers. Her best known work is the dialogue Il merito delle donne (The Worth of Women), which was published posthumously in 1600, and is one of the liveliest and most original contributions to early modern debate on sex roles, as well as one of the earliest to have been authored by a woman. Fonte 's oeuvre also encompasses a number of other works deserving of critical attention, notably her chivalric romance, Il Floridoro (1581) and her two poetic narratives of Christ 's passion and resurrection (1582 and 1592). As Doglioni records, Modesta Pozzo was born in venice in 1555, to Girolamo Pozzo a lawyer, and Marietta dal Moro. Both her parents came from moneyed families of the peculiarly venetian rank of cittadini originari, a secondary elite group, excluded from the patriciate and thus ineligible for political office, but clearly differentiated from the 'populace ' in terms of education and lifestyle. She received an elementary education at the convent of Santa Marta, where Doglioni recounts that she amazed visitors with her intellectual precocity and charm. At the same time, Doglioni tells us, Fonte attempted to teach herself Latin by having her brother repeat his lessons to her on his return from school. Her earliest substantial published work was the

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