By Cassandra Fedele
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Behan's associates and kin, and other people in his literary circle, have claimed he was once no longer a prolific letter-writer. Even Behan himself has been quoted as announcing, "Whoever writes my biography gets no support from my letters. I by no means write any. " yet in truth there's a vast physique of letters to and from Behan, who not just corresponded with seventeen periodicals yet wrote to relations, acquaintances, IRA colleagues, civil servants, theatrical administrators, publicans, and whole strangers.
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This therefore will be an easy choice for you to make, SInce nothmg violent In Its nature ISever lastrng 56 Farewell January 1492 NOTES TO CHAPTER 1 1 Isabella (1451-1504), queen of Castile and daughter of Juan II of Castile.
A bishop, a lawyer, and a banker who was sent to prison for forgery come down to us about her mother 5 No detailed mformation has Barbara Leorus farruly or her father Angelo Fedele's positron In Venice They were not members of the Venetian patnciate, though the seventeenth-century Angelo was "respected" histonan Sansovino wrote that by the nobrliry, suggesting that he may at some point have been employed by members of the patnciate 6 Cassandra was proud of her uncle Balthassare's claim that the Fedelt had been courtiers of the Visconti lords In MIlan before errugratmg to Vemce at the turn of the fifteenth century Fedele was one of five children She had three SIsters and a brother, none of whom pursued a scholarly career She speaks fondly of her siblmgs In her letters/ though never of her mother/ who may have died when the children were young In any case, Fedele's silence on the subject IS conso- nant WIth her distancmg of herself from women as a group throughout letters, WIth the exception of her wealthy female patrons her Her father An- gelo/ who saw Cassandra's fame as a chrld prodigy as a vehicle to further hIS own career," first taught her Greek and Latin And when at the age of twelve, Fedele was proficient In those languages edgeable she was sent to Gaspanno Borro, a Servite monk and noted scholar of classical literature and rhetonc WIth Borro, she In Roman ltterature, studied Greek/ philosophy, ular WIth Anstotle, and thoroughly knowl- the SCIences, and dralectics, struggling In partic- whose language and ideas she found more difficult than any other author she had read By the age of SIxteen she was frequently mvited to appear before groups of learned men who tested her knowledge and were amazed by her erudrtion Yet her Intellectual trammg and aspirations of women's pubhcation and the VIrtual prohibrtron of their work or entrance Into the professions (law, medicine.
An unusual proportion pnrnanly vate matters such as her relationships Other addressed of them women of her letters squarely confronted the Ciceroruan In literature, and with her mother, sisters, and husband the problem uses the term servitus)of women In marriage to higher education family members Her letters dealt with pn- philosophy, of the slavery (she She argued for women's nght and the SCIences Rejecting elegance of Fedele and other humanists, Cereta blended dic- tion from juvenal, Plmy the Elder, Apulerus, and her native Italian to pro- duce a hybnd Latin HUMANIST AND NONHUMANIST IN FEDELE'S THEMES LETTERS Fedele's themes are largely those of the humanists of her penod Her major work In pnnt, the Ep,stolaeetorationes,exemplified the krnd of pubhcation was expected of a fifteenth -century Intellectual the most popular form of autobiography Such letter collections in the Renaissance marust works, Fedele's letters are written In the mannered that were LIke other huLatm of Cicero, Seneca, and Pltny the Younger, and the letters Included In her letterbook were selected to showcase her learnmg and SOCialconnections Her letters feature the stock themes of her era the exaltation of reason as a quasi-drvme faculty unique to the human race, the supremacy of eloquence among human achrevernents, the Importance of a liberal arts education, the role of the writer as cultural CrItIC, prophet, and high priest (the Romans called such a poet-seer a vates), and perhaps most Important In her pantheon of topoi, the sublirne nature of friendslup (amicitra)between Intellectual and moral peers, and others themes that ideahze the patronage relationship The chief feature that distinguishes Fedele's rhetorical style from that of male contemporanes IS her self-consciously gendered voice In male hu- Editor's Introduction mamst letters gender is not an Issue since the "natural" superionty of the male over the female is a given In the writings of Fedele, the theme of a client's exaggerated deference to hIS patron ISsexualized.