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The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
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The Decameron

by Giovanni Boccaccio

Other authors: Frances Winwar (Translator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (44)  Dutch (6)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (1)  Catalan (1)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (62)
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Summary: A classic collection of one hundred stories told for amusement over ten days by seven women and three men escaping the plague of 1348 in Florence.

A hundred year old copy of Decameron resides in the depths of my bookcases. I don't suspect it was ever read, with pages still uncut but my mom spoke of these stories as if she knew them. I never picked them up until this spring, when a reading group I'm a part of decided to read this. The first challenge was to chose an edition. We looked at the classic (and free via e-book) translation by John Payne. It read formal and dense, and we decided we would never survive a book of this length without finding a more readable translation. Wayne A. Rebhorn's recent translation more than fits the bill. It is lively, vernacular, and brings out the humor and earthiness of Boccaccio's tale, combining readability and nobility without ever becoming stuffy.

"Decameron" means "ten days," which alludes to the framing story for these one hundred stories. It is 1348 and the plague has struck Florence. Seven women and three men fleeing the city meet up and decide to travel together and take up lodgings in the course of the stories at several idyllic country estates with separate bedrooms (!) and verdant gardens and servants to supply their needs. For amusement, they agree to meet together each day for ten days (with breaks extending the ten days of storytelling over fifteen days abroad) and each tell a story for the others. One of their number presides as king or queen each day, both arranging meals and most importantly, setting a theme for the stories each day for the group--for all that is but Dioneo. Dioneo claims special privilege to tell the concluding story and choose his own theme. Two of the days are storyteller's choice. Other themes include misfortunes turned to happiness, resourcefulness in action or wit, loves that end unhappily or happily, tricks played by women on husbands, on men in general, men on women, and men on men. The collection concludes on a high note with stories of those who act with magnificence in love or otherwise.

How does one summarize these stories? They are earthy, and often the women are as lusty as the men, and affairs seem to be accepted and generally inconsequential unless one is caught, and even then, the test is whether one may escape by one's wits. The lack of the sad consequences that follow such affairs in real life seemed somewhat disconcerting, and an indulgence in unreality--some of us thought of it as a male fantasy world. Some stories are fairly crude, as is the case where a friend is called to cast a spell to turn a man's wife into a mare, and for the spell to work, the friend must pin his "tale" on the mare.

The church hardly escapes this earthiness as bishops, priests, and nuns (in one case a whole abbey) succumb to sins of the flesh. One of the most telling commentaries is the second story in the collection in which a Jew goes to Rome and on return converts because, given the low estate of the church that he saw, it can only survive because there is a God (sadly true at several times and places in our history!).

Sometimes they are downright hilarious, particularly the tales of Buffo and Buffalmacco and their witless friend Calendrino, who they dupe in several stories. One wonders how he can be so stupid to let these guys deceive him, and why he retains them as friends.

While earthy, they retain a certain focus on style. Day Six's stories where a witty response or quick retort saves the day or puts one in their place is an example. One example is an uncle who suggests to his vain niece that she not preen in the mirror if it is true that she does not like looking at disagreeable people! We thought that this kind of wit, of which Ronald Reagan was the epitome, is desperately needed in our public life.

Style extends to nobility of spirit and action. Perhaps my favorite story in the volume was that of Torello and Saladhin. Torello extends generous hospitality to Saladhin, traveling incognito. Later when captured by Saladhin in a Crusade, the tables are turned in a marvelous way that transcended these wasteful conflicts.

Not all is noble, however and there is a dark undercurrent running through these stories of how men exercise power over women, sometimes with great physical and psychological cruelty (one husband tests his wife's loyalty by seeming to kill her children, and then send her off to her father, feigning to marry another). Yet often women find way to give as good as they get. One wife, caught in an affair and dragged before the judge, exposes her husband's "inattentiveness" and gets the law changed through her witty defense. Women trick their husbands, often without the husbands knowing they have been tricked.

In the epilogue, Boccaccio gives a defense for the bawdy or unseemly character of some of his stories. He argues both that when these are written with elegance, and read by people of character, they do no harm but simply amuse or delight. And it seems that this is indeed the case for the young women and men who tell and listen to these stories. It might be argued that the survival of these stories to our own day suggests the power of Boccaccio as a story teller. Boccaccio reveals humanity in our pretensions to greatness, and the realities of our desires, our blindness and folly, sparks of wit and the thrill of romance, unseemly greed, and noble generosity. We still like stories that explore all these things and perhaps the genius of Boccaccio was to combine them through a compelling framing story into a single volume. ( )
  BobonBooks | May 30, 2018 |
Printed Letterpress in USA.
On watermarked rag paper.
Illustrated and signed by Fritz kredel.
368/530 a special out of series edition.
Calfskin spine with cloth sides. ( )
  Drfreddy94 | May 22, 2018 |
Really enjoyed reading this, even though I did get pissed off occasionally. I probably shouldn't say this, but one of the reasons I enjoyed this book was simply that I didn't feel emotionally challenged by the characters ever. I understand that Boccaccio making fun of the Roman Catholic church was pretty significant for the time, but as we're in the era of child molesting priests, even the charge of hypocrisy seemed mild in comparison. Nevertheless, it was fun reading his anti-church rants. ( )
  gossamerchild88 | Mar 30, 2018 |
Classic
  stevholt | Nov 19, 2017 |
ნამდვილად არ ველოდი ასეთ ლაღ და სექსუალური ხასიათის ისტორიებს მეთოთხმეტე საუკუნეში დაწერილი წიგნისგან. არა იმიტომ რომ მაშინ სხვანაირი ადამიანები იყვნენ, არამედ იმიტომ, რომ ჩემი წარმოდგენით. რელიგიური და მორალური ცენზურა იქნებოდა მკაცრი ასეთი წიგნის გამოცემისთვის. მითუმეტეს ამ ყველაფერთან ერთად ხშირ შემთხვევაში ხაზგასმულია სასულიერო პირების მანკიერება, ხორციელი ვნებები და სხვა ადამიანური სისუსტეები. თუმცა როგორც ჩანს ვცდებოდი.
ისტორიები სახალისოცაა, ვნებიანიც, ზოგჯერ გულუბრყვილო და სევდიანიც. რაც მთავარია თითქმის ყოველთვის წარმოაჩენს ადამიანის ბუნებრივ, მიწიერ თვისებებს და არ გვიხატავს (გამონაკლისები ყველგან არის) მათ წმინდანებად მითიურ გმირებად ან შავბნელ ანტიგმირებად. ძველი ნაწარმოებებისთვის​ დამახასიათებელი პათეტიკისგან და გაზვიადებისგან თავისუფალია. ქალებს ხშირად იმდენადვე ამოძრავებთ ვნება და ლტოლვა რამდენადაც კაცებს. რადგან ის ყალბი კდემამოსილება რაც იმ დროს მოეთხოვებოდა ქალს, ავტორს ხელ ფეხს შეუკრავდა.
ბუნებრივია მთელი იმ დროისთვის ძალზედ ლიბერალური და თავისუფალი აზრების მიუხედავად, ქალი მაინც საკუთრებად და უფრო ნაკლებად საზრიან არსებად განიხილება და ეს კარგად ჩანს თვით ყველაზე პროგრესული პერსონაჟების საუბარშიც კი. მაგრამ საუკუნის გათვალისწინებით შეგვიძლია მივიჩნიოთ რომ ბოკაჩო გაცილებით წინაა ვიდრე ბევრი მისი თანამედროვე ან მომავალი მოღვაწე. ( )
  Misha.Kaulashvili | Aug 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
magnifico! il terzo autore più grande nella trittica: Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio...che dire è colui che ho evoluto le novelli, generato romanzi, analizzato e intuito i sucessivi 500/600 anni.
Geoffrey Chaucer ha copiato da boccaccio! altro che letteratura inglese!
Geoffrey Chaucer is a copy of the Great Boccaccio!
the England is china?
added by sshnn | editMilano, ss (Dec 2, 2012)
 

In many of the stories, and more strikingly in the poems/songs which conclude each day, a close reader can also detect an allegorical element in which the soul is depicted as a lost lover, seeking to return to paradise. Originally a concept from the mystery religions, this allegorical treatment became very popular in the Middle Ages, particularly as an important aspect of the courtly love tradition.
added by camillahoel | editRead And Find Out, Tom (Sep 11, 2009)
 

» Add other authors (158 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Boccaccio, Giovanniprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Winwar, FrancesTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aldington, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bakker, MargotTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bergin, Thomas G.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bondanella, Peter E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bosschère, Jean deIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Branca, VittoreEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buckland Wright, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cipolla, FrateCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Boschere, JeanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Denissen, FransTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Germán ArciniegasIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hutton, EdwardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kelfkens, C. J.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kredel, FritzIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Macchi, RuthTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Macchi, V.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Massó Torrents, JaumeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McWilliam, G. H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Musa, MarkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Narro, JoséIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Payne, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rebhorn, Wayne A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sandfort, J.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schlegel, August Wilhelm vonContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vallverdú, FrancescTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vosseler, MartinContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winwar, FrancesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Witte, KarlContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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1573 ( [1527])
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Es beginnt das Buch Dekameron, auch Principe Galeotto genannt, mit seinen hundert Geschichten, die in zehn Tagen von sieben Damen und drei jungen Männern erzählt werden.
Dedication
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A kindly thing it is to have compassion of the afflicted and albeit it well beseemeth every one, yet of those is it more particularly required who have erst had need of comfort and have found it in any, amongst whom, if ever any had need thereof or held it dear or took pleasure therein aforetimes, certes, I am one of these.
Gracious Ladies, so often as I consider with my selfe, and observe respectively, how naturally you are enclined to compassion; as many times doe I acknowledge, that this present worke of mine, will (in your judgement) appeare to have but a harsh and offensive beginning, in regard of the mournfull remembrance it beareth at the verie entrance of the last Pestilentiall mortality, universally hurtfull to all that beheld it, or otherwise came to knowledge of it. But for all that, I desire it may not be so dreadfull to you, to hinder your further proceeding in reading, as if none were to looke thereon, but with sighs and teares. For, I could rather wish, that so fearfulle a beginning, should seeme but as an high and steepy hil appeares to them, that attempt to travell farre on foote, and ascending the same with some difficulty, ome afterward to walk upo a goodly even plaine, which causeth the more cotentment in them, because the attayning thereto was hard and painfull. For even as pleasures are cut off by griefe and anguish; so sorrowes cease by joyes most sweete and happie arriving.
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Book description
A group of travelers entertain each other by telling tales and stories of naughtiness and debauchery, happy ending and ironic adventures.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140449302, Paperback)

In the early summer of the year 1348, as a terrible plague ravages the city, ten charming young Florentines take refuge in country villas to tell each other stories—a hundred stories of love, adventure and surprising twists of fortune which later inspired Chaucer, Keats and Shakespeare. While Dante is a stern moralist, Boccaccio has little time for chastity, pokes fun at crafty, hypocritical clerics and celebrates the power of passion to overcome obstacles and social divisions. Like the Divine Comedy, the Decameron is a towering monument of medieval pre-Renaissance literature, and incorporates certain important elements that are not at once apparent to today's readers. In a new introduction to this revised edition, which also includes additional explanatory notes, maps, bibliography and indexes, Professor McWilliam shows us Boccaccio for what he is—one of the world's greatest masters of vivid and exciting prose fiction.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:52 -0400)

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Translated with an Introduction and Notes by G. H. McWilliam.

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