A Comparison of "The Book of the Family" and "The Selected Letters" Essay

A Comparison of "The Book of the Family" and "The Selected Letters" Essay

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During the Renaissance, many writers were authoring "how-to" books. At the same time, mail correspondence was the main form of communication. This gives readers and historians the golden opportunity to perform some comparisons, and to paint a picture of what life was like in the renaissance. In The Book of the Family Leon Battista Alberti illustrates to his readers through dialogue, his vision of the perfect family. Alberti wrote his book in dialogue form, featuring the elder Giannozzo conversing with the young Leonardo. They discuss important family topics such as thrift, friendship, work, health, housing, economics, children and how and whom to choose as a wife. Alberti stresses thrift with family resources and money, hard work in the right field for the family, and a wife that conforms to his ideas of virtue and duty. In the letters of Alessandra Strozzi, readers chronicle her communication with her family and draws a vivid picture of their lives as they actually happened during this fascinating time period. Alessandra Strozzi wrote letters to her family while here sons were in exile, which added to her precarious position in society as a widow. The Strozzi family was one of the most powerful families during the Renaissance, but with that power came vulnerability, and possibility of exile. The selected letters date from 1447 to 1470. She writes, mainly to her sons, to advise them on issues of money, politics and marriage. Alessandra is generally unhappy with her situation throughout her letters, but valiantly attempts to fulfill the needs of her family.. What readers have before them is the guidebook to the family, and the actual accounts of a family, fantasy and reality. In Alessandra Strozzi's letters, Alberti's...


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... humanism in Alessandra's life than in the life prescribed by Alberti. She takes what life has dealt her and maintains a strong bond and position with her sons, albeit with much complaining. Although Alberti describes a life of comfort, Alessandra illustrates a life of reality, and she is accepting of that. While Giannozzo was laying out careful plans, Alessandra was giving Filippo and Lorenzo some advice on making too many plans: "If you plans don't work out you must believe it's all for the best, because if God doesn't give us what we want it's because it wouldn't be good for us...I comfort myself by saying that perhaps it's all for the best, and I've calmed down about it." Conclusively, Alessandra's life did not fit the mold cast by Alberti, yet readers understand that it didn't need to. In real life people function without a guide, and survive every day.

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