BALDESAR CASTIGLIONE QUESTIONS
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Assigned: Baldesar Castiglione. The Book of the Courtier (2552-64).
From The Courtier
1. On 2552-54, in what setting does the book's dialogue take place? What kind of expectations might arise as a result of the author's description of Urbino and his brief recounting of that city's political history (i.e. his discussion of the most recent Dukes)?
2. On 2554 and throughout our selection, what role does Duchess Elisabetta Gonzaga play? How is her social rank important in Castiglione's conversational scheme, and what qualities does the Duchess have aside from her high position in Urbino?
3. On 2555-57, the first quality that Count Ludovico insists upon in setting forth his ideal of courtiership is nobility of birth. What rationale does he offer for this insistence? What objections arise against his claim, and how does he respond to them?
4. On 2558-61, Ludovico discusses other qualifications for the best courtier: what are the most important among these qualifications, and why? How does he balance the need for excellence in such things with the imperative of moderation?
5. On 2562-64, when challenged to explain how a courtier might develop a greater degree of "grace" than nature has given him, how does Count Ludovico reply -- why doesn't he feel bound to answer this challenge directly? What does his term sprezzatura mean, and how does this term help him sum up the argument he has been making?
Edition: Lawall, Sarah, ed. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. 2nd edition. Volumes 1ABC. New York: Norton, 2002. ISBN A = 0-393-97755-2, B = 0-393-97756-0, C = 0-393-97757-9.