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Decameron

ISBN-10: 0307271714
ISBN-13: 9780307271716
Edition: 2009
List price: $33.00 Buy it from $14.56
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Description: A brilliant new translation of the work that Herman Hesse called "the first great masterpiece of European storytelling." In the summer of 1348, with the plague ravaging Florence, ten young men and women take refuge in the countryside, where they  More...

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Book details

List price: $33.00
Copyright year: 2009
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 9/1/2009
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 696
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.75" long x 1.50" tall
Weight: 1.628
Language: English

A brilliant new translation of the work that Herman Hesse called "the first great masterpiece of European storytelling." In the summer of 1348, with the plague ravaging Florence, ten young men and women take refuge in the countryside, where they entertain themselves with tales of love, death, and corruption, featuring a host of characters, from lascivious clergymen and mad kings to devious lovers and false miracle-makers. Named after the Greek for "ten days," Boccaccio's book of stories draws on ancient mythology, contemporary history, and everyday life, and has influenced the work of myriad writers who came after him. J. G. Nichols's new translation, faithful to the original but rendered in eminently readable modern English, captures the timeless humor of one of the great classics of European literature.

Although Giovanni Boccaccio was born in France and raised and educated in Naples, where he wrote his first works under the patronage of the French Angevin ruler, Boccaccio always considered himself a Tuscan, like Petrarch and Dante. After Boccaccio returned to Florence in 1340, he witnessed the outbreak of the great plague, or Black Death, in 1348. This provided the setting for his most famous work, the vernacular prose masterpiece Il Decamerone (Decameron) (1353). This collection of 100 short stories, told by 10 Florentines who leave plague-infected Florence for the neighboring hill town of Fiesole, is clear evidence of the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy. The highly finished work exerted a tremendous influence on Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dryden, Keats, and Tennyson even as it established itself as the great classic of Italian fictional prose. Although Chaucer did not mention Boccaccio's name, his Canterbury Tales are clearly modeled on the Decameron. Boccaccio's other important works are a short life of Dante and commentaries on the Divine Comedy; Filocolo (1340) a prose romance; Filostrato (1335), a poem on Troilus and Cressida; and Theseus (1340-41), a poem dealing with the story of Theseus, Palamon, and Arcite. Boccassio's only attempt at writing an epic was a work that Chaucer rendered as his "Knight's Tale." Boccaccio's last work written in Italian was the gloomy, cautionary tale titled The Corbaccio (1355). The Nymph Song (1346), as a counterpiece for the Decameron, demonstrates that it is possible to read the Decameron as an allegory, with the plague representing the spiritual plague of medieval Christianity, viewed from the vantage point of Renaissance humanism. Many of the Decameron tales are indeed paganized versions of medieval sermons about sin and damnation with the morals reversed. After 1363 Boccaccio concentrated on trying to gain enduring fame by writing, in Latin, a series of lives of memorable men and women and a genealogy of the pagan gods. Boccaccio died in 1375.

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