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Victoria Reads Books

Global citizen, adventurer, ponderer. Lover of coffee, books, and the Oxford comma. Infected by wanderlust, enchanted by stories. Might occasionally be a photo blog.

Currently reading

Jane Austen
Progress: 230/412 pages
Le Petit Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Eight Great Comedies
Sylvan Barnet, Morton Berman, William Burton
The Longman Anthology of Short Fiction, Compact Edition: Stories and Authors in Context
Dana Gioia, R.S. Gwynn
Anna Karenina
Leo Tolstoy, Louise Maude, Aylmer Maude, E.B. Greenswood
La mandragola - Niccolò Machiavelli
Mandragola: A Modern Movie Adaptation

Black screen.

Loud club music plays; the lyrics are indistinguishable but probably have something to do with sex, booze, and swag.

A group of men sit around a table and are drinking copious amounts of alcohol.

CAL: "Yo, chicks from your city? Ugggly."

CAM: "Yeah, well, even if they are, I have a cousin that is hot enough for all of the girls in my hometown. Her name is Lucy."

Black screen.


Shot of CAL creeping LUCY, who shakes her mane of hair behind her dramatically as she puts on a pair of sunglasses at the poolside.


Shot of LUCY stripping and being creeped by CAL.


Shot of LUCY tucking her hair behind her ear; her diamond wedding ring sparkling on her finger.

Dramatic pause.

NICK: I want to start a family!
LUCY (crying): I know... nothing's working!

Cue pop song at the top of the charts.

CAL (dreamily): I'll do anything to hook up with her.

CUT to HOSPITAL, where CAL is dressed as a doctor.

Yes... I see the problem, sir. Your wife is infertile, but I have just the thing to help her.

NICK: What???

CAL: I have medicine that can fix that infertility. Only thing... the first man your wife sleeps with after taking the medicine will die.

NICK: ... where are we ever going to find someone to make this huge sacrifice?

(camera closeup)

CAL winks.


Coming soon to theatres everywhere.


Damn… obviously my sleep-deprived brain decided that it would be a great idea to write an awful modern fanfic-styled movie trailer take on Mandragola. Albeit, y’know, that not exactly happening... that movie trailer did cover several plot points.

Essentially, this play takes place in Florence and is about Callimaco, a man who wants to sleep with Messer Nicia's beautiful wife, Lucrezia. Messer Nicia is incredibly stupid. Callimaco, in conjunction with a guy named Ligurio and Fra Timoteo, manage to convince him that Lucrezia will become fertile if she drinks a potion made of mandrake. However, the crew manage to convince Messer Nicia that the first man to sleep with Lucrezia will die, which allows for them to also convince Nicia that Lucrezia sleeping with another man is a GREAT idea.

So, basically:

- How can I convince a married woman to sleep with me against her wishes?

I didn't even have to try to read this through a feminist lens. The sexism screamed at me from within the pages and wildly flailed in my direction. I couldn't ignore it if I tried.

Regardless of the understanding that sexism was much more prevalent in the society that Machiavelli lived in, the misogyny within Mandragola personally made me very, very uncomfortable. Where some people may be able to disregard the sexism and enjoy the play, I was not able to. Quotations like "The real sin is to displease your husband" and "All women are a little light in the head; if one of them can string two words together she is considered a marvel- in the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king" were amongst those that just made me cringe. Machiavelli obviously isn't the beacon of moral goodness, so my disapproval stems mostly from the fact that the sexist plot leeched at my ability to enjoy it.

On the other hand, apparently there is a way to read this play as a political satire where women are Italy (or something of the sort). I evidently didn't read the play that way. Perhaps the sexist elements are understood differently in reading the play as a political satire rather than a simple comedy. I might have to return to this one after gaining a better understanding of history during that time period.

Some nice quotations (taken out of context so they sound more profound):

"As far as conscience is concerned, you have to accept this common rule: the good must never be sacrificed for fear of the evil."

"Fear of the evil is greater than the evil itself."

(The 'evil' is Lucrezia having sex with someone other than her husband. But hey.)

Overall, it's a quick play and a lesser-known work of Machiavelli. Despite my qualms with its treatment of women, it did manage to hold my attention.

Entertainment value: 2/5
Writing quality/style: 3.5/5
Readability: 2/5 (5 being the most difficult to read)
Characters (depth/development): 1/5
Plot: 1.5/5

The edition of 'Mandragola' that I read was a part of the anthology Eight Great Comedies. This book that was lent to me by my school as a part of our English unit on comedy, where we briefly studied The Importance of Being Earnest, another play within the volume. As this school year is coming to an end, I figured that I should try to read some of the other comedies while I had the book in my hands.