The Century of Women (The anatomist) - Federico Andahazi

Texto en español "El siglo de las mujeres", de la novela "El anatomista".

Tradudido al inglés.

The sixteenth century was the century of women. The seed sowed a hundred years earlier by Christine de Pisan flowered throughout Europe with the sweet scent of The Sayinge of True Lovers. It is certainly not by chance that Mateo Colombo's discovery took place when and where it did. Until the sixteenth century, history had been recounted in a deep masculine voice. "Wherever one looks, there she is, always present; from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, always on the domestic, economic, intellectual, and public stage, on the battlefront and in moments of private leisure, we find the Woman. Usually, she is busy at her daily tasks. But she is also present in the events that build, transform or tear apart society. From one end to the other of the social spectrum, she occupies all places and those who watch her constantly speak of her presence, often with fear," write Natalie Zemon and Arlette Farge in their History of Women.3
Mateo Colombo's discovery happens precisely when women, whose place had always been indoors, began to conquer, gradually and subtly, the world outside, emerging from behind the walls of convents and retreats, from whorehouses or from the warm but no less monastic sweetness of home. Timidly, woman dares argue with man. With some exaggeration, it has been said that the "battle of the sexes" begins in the sixteenth century. Whether this is true or not, this is the age in wich womanly matters become an acceptable subject for discussion among men.
Under these circumstances, what was Mateo Colombo‘s "America"? No doubt, the borders between discovery and invention are far more vague than they might seem at first glance. Mateo Colombo (the time has come to say it) discovered that which every man has dreamt of at some moment or other: the magic key that unlocks women's hearts, the secret that governs the mysterious driving force of female love; that which, from the beginnings of History, wizards and witches, shamans and alchemists, have sought by means of brews, all manner of herbs or through the favor of gods or demons; that which every man in love has always longed for, when wounded, through unkindness, by the object of his troubles and sorrows. And also, of course, that which is dreamt, of by kings and rulers in their sheer lust for omnipotence: namely, the instrument that subjugates the volatile female will. Mateo Colombo searched, traveled and finally found the "sweet land" he longed for: "the organ that governs the love of women." The Amor Veneris (such is the name the anatomist gave it, "if I may be allowed to give a name to the things by me discovered") was the true source of power over the slippery, shadowy free will of women. Certainly, such a finding had many serious consequences. "To what calamities would Christianity not be subjected it the female object of sin were to fall into the hands of the hosts of Satan?" the scandalized Doctors of the Church asked. "What would become of the profítable business of prostitution if any poor hunchback might obtain the love of the most expensive of courtesans?" asked the rich proprietors of the splendid Venetian brothels. And, worst of all, what would happen if the daughters of Eve were to discover that, between their legs, they carried the keys to both Heaven and Hell?
The discovery of Mateo Colombo's America was, all things considered, an epic counterpointed by an elegy. Mateo Colombo was as fierce and heartless as Christopher. Like Christopher (to use an appropriate metaphor) he was a brutal colonizer who claimed for himself all rights to the discovered land, the female body.
Beyond what Amor Veneris meant to society, another controversy was sparked by what it was really supposed to be. Did the organ discovered by Mateo Colombo actually exist? Perhaps this is a useless question wich must be replaced by another: did the Amor Veneris ever exist? Ultimately, things are nothing but the words that name them. Amor Veneris, vel Dulcedo Apeletur (the full name with which its discoverer christened the organ) had a strong heretical ring to it. The question of whether the Amor Veneris coincides with the less apostate and more neutral kleitoris ("tickling"), which alludes to effects rather than causes, is one that would later concern historians of the body. The Amor Veneris existed for reasons other than anatomical; it existed not only because it inaugurated a New Woman but also because it sparked a tragedy.
What follows is the story of a discovery.
What follows is the chronicle of a tragedy.

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