The Book of the Courtesans: A Catalogue of Their Virtues

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Broadway Books, Sep 1, 2002 - History - 288 pages
3 Reviews
They charmed some of Europe’s most illustrious men, honing their social skills as well as their sexual ones, and accumulating wealth, fame, and power along the way. Unlike their geisha counterparts, courtesans didn't lived in brothels or bend their wills to suit their suitors. They were the muses who enflamed the hearts of our most celebrated artists--Raphael, Manet, Dumas, and Proust, to name just a few--as well as becoming artists in their own right. Offering the first comprehensive tour of their worlds, Susan Griffins celebrates these first feminists and hails their virtues: Timing, Beauty, Cheek, Brilliance, Gaiety, Grace, and Charm.

From Veronica Franco, who graced the palazzos of sixteenth-century Venice, and Madame de Pompadour, the arbiter of all things fashionable at Versailles during the reign of Lous XV, to La Belle Otero of the grand boulevards of Paris in the Gay Nineties and Marion Davies, who took Hollywood by storm in the 1920's and 1930's, The Book of the Courtesans enticingly illustrates the intricacies of their lavish lifestyles and incredible life stories. Fascinating true tales and enlightening snippets from courtesans' memoirs further reveal how these cunning women seized their opportunity to become the West's first liberators, free to choose their own lovers and command remarkable respect.

Delving into his scintillating world, The Book of the Courtesans is an impeccably researched, beautifully crafted portrait of some of the most intriguing figures in women's history.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dk_phoenix - LibraryThing

I read this book out of an immense curiosity about what would make a woman choose to become a courtesan during the 18th and 19th centuries -- especially when she might, in many cases, become a ... Read full review

THE BOOK OF THE COURTESANS: A Catalogue of Their Virtues

User Review  - Kirkus

A joyful celebration of the lives of famous courtesans from early Rome to early Hollywood, with the emphasis on their strengths (and not what some might consider their moral lapses).Like most of ... Read full review


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About the author (2002)

The author of more than twenty books, Susan Griffin has won dozens of awards for her work as a feminist, poet, writer, essayist, playwright, and filmmaker. Her book A Chorus of Stones was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The recipient of an Emmy, a MacArthur Grant, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, she is a frequent contributor to Ms. magazine, The New York Times Book Review, and numerous other publications. She lives in Berkeley, California.

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