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Elegy of Lady Fiammetta

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ISBN-10: 0226062767

ISBN-13: 9780226062761

Edition: 1990

Authors: Giovanni Boccaccio, Mariangela Causa-Steindler, Thomas Mauch, Thomas Mauch, Thomas Mauch

List price: $26.00
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Description:

A milestone in feminist literature, this marvelous European romance, narrated by a woman, is considered the first psychological novel in a modern language and a precursor of stream-of-consciousness fiction. Written by Giovanni Boccaccio between 1343 and 1345, The Elegy has never before been available in a complete or accurate English translation. Lady Fiammetta, the first-person narrator and protagonist, recounts how, although a married woman, she falls in love with a handsome young foreigner named Panfilo and, driven by irresistible passion, becomes his lover. Panfilo subsequently abandons Fiammetta and returns to his native land, where his elderly father is said to be dying. When he fails to keep his promise to return, Fiammetta, in what is the heart of the narrative, describes her longings, her anguish, and her despair. A host of contradictory sentiments drive her to desperation and to an unsuccessful suicide attempt. After a time, Fiammetta resumes her futile wait for Panfilo. She finally resolves to seek him out in his native land. Disguising her true intent from her husband, she secures his promise to help her in this undertaking. Addressing an exclusively female audience, Fiammetta warns them about the vicious ways of men. Her whole narrative, in fact, adds up to an indictment of men as both readers and lovers. Eliciting a remarkably wide range of responses from readers and critics, Fiammetta has been variously described as a pathetic victim of male cruelty; an irresponsible fool of a girl; a sophisticated, cunning, and wholly disingenuous female; and, finally, a genuinely modern woman. Whatever judgment we make of her, Fiammetta stands out among medieval women as an ardent and outspoken feminist.
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Book details

List price: $26.00
Copyright year: 1990
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 11/15/1990
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 208
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.75" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.550
Language: English

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.