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978-1-4985-8580-4 • Hardback • July 2019 • $105.00 • (£81.00)
978-1-4985-8582-8 • Paperback • June 2021 • $39.99 • (£31.00)
978-1-4985-8581-1 • eBook • July 2019 • $38.00 • (£29.00)
Albrecht Classen is university distinguished professor of German studies at the University of Arizona.
Chapter 1. Prostitution: A Historical Phenomenon from Late Antiquity to the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Ages, Mirrored in Literary Documents
Chapter 2. Modern Voices and Witnesses of Prostitution in Literature
Chapter 3. The Canoness Hrotsvit and the Prostitute: An Early Medieval Playwright and Her Responses to the “Sordid” World of Prostitution
Chapter 4. Christine de Pizan’s Advice to Prostitutes: A Late Medieval Perspective by a Woman Writer Regarding Prostitution
Chapter 5. Prostitution in the Work of Late Medieval Poetry: Oswald von Wolkenstein (1376/77–1445)
Chapter 6. Prostitution in the Works by François Villon: Autobiographical-Erotic Discourse from the Underside of Courtly Culture
Chapter 7. The Prostitute as Protagonist: The Intriguing Case of Fernando de Rojas’s Celestina (1499)
Chapter 8. The Sojourn in a Brothel: An Unusual Perspective in a Late Medieval German Verse Narrative
Chapter 9. The Prostitute and Prostitution in Late Medieval and Early Modern German Song Poetry
Chapter 10. Prostitutes in fabliaux, mæren, and novelli: The Rise of Realism in Late Medieval and Early Modern Literature Seen through the Lens of Commodified Sexuality
Chapter 11. Prostitutes in Sixteenth-Century Schwänke (Prose Jest Narratives)
In Prostitution in Medieval and Early Modern Literature: The Dark Side of Sex and Love in the Premodern Era, Albrecht Classen builds on the considerable work of cultural historians on the subject of prostitution by focusing on literary discussions of the topic. The appearance and treatment of the phenomenon in literary texts attest to the fact that prostitution was a salient topic for artists and the discourse surrounding it was not limited to the Church or other authoritative institutions. In examining a wide-range of works from Germany, France, and Spain, Classen finds that not all authors portray prostitution in a negative light. This study shows that although criticism of prostitution is present, the subject was also treated satirically or as a way to challenge dominant concepts of morality and ethics.
— Connie L. Scarborough, Texas Tech University
A living legend of literary scholarship, Albrecht Classen is justly famed not just for his prolific output but for adhering to the highest standards of writing and reasoning, as well as unprejudiced openness to all things that touch on the human. With the same thoroughness and uncompromising precision of his prior work, he tackles, in this volume, the thorny matter of the representation of prostitution by medieval and early modern authors, including Hrotsvit of Gandersheim, Christine de Pizan, Oswald von Wolkenstein, François Villon, and Fernando de Rojas, and in genres like the fabliau, mæren, and Schwänke. One of Classen's central findings is that such representations make evident that prostitution was not just an aspect of premodern and early modern literary discourses, but a ubiquitous practice throughout western Europe. Concerned with mentalities and their history, Classen notes how such discourses expose ambiguous subjectivities that could not entirely dissociate themselves from what they branded as unquestionably immoral and despicable. An awareness of complicity emerges then from these discourses and hints at the troubled conscience of a western European culture inextricably entangled with the objectification, commodification, and exchange of the sexualized human body. Begotten at the intersection of unmet needs and a lack of alternatives, however, prostitution may in fact be a fundamental aspect of human existence under conditions of scarcity and wealth maldistribution, so much so that, as Classen suggests, "we could easily write the entire history of Western (and probably also Eastern) civilization in terms of prostitution." Stressing that "sex sells" and that "without demand there is no supply, both in past and present," Classen thus lays the problem of prostitution, like the unwanted offspring of a forbidden act, at the very doorway of the economy where money rules and constitutes the only undisputed value. This book is of particular importance as it comes at a time of heightened awareness of human trafficking and its relations to a global economy where human chattel/capital is subordinated to profit, and where the immorality of the sale of the body clashes with its inescapable necessity.
— Fidel Fajardo-Acosta, Creighton University
In this engaging and well-documented volume, Albrecht Classen provides a broad survey of the depiction of prostitution in European literary works from the tenth to late sixteenth century. This illuminating investigation demonstrates how the marginalized and much maligned prostitute plays a surprisingly prominent role in the works of both male and female authors, both famous and obscure, in a broad range of genres. This extensive portrait of the prostitute should provide ample fodder for those wishing to enhance further their knowledge of this shadowy profession during the premodern era.
— Stacey Hahn, Oakland University