Decameron IV Novella XI (Italian Edition)

Michael Papio
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His characters and stories are so richly human and he is able to laugh at them, embrace their flaws, forgive them their hypocrisies. It's too bad we all can't view the world with Boccaccio's humor and sense of reason. As a side note, his description of societal breakdown prompted by the plague is really interesting. I had the simple, but impressive realization that I was reading the actual first hand observations of someone who had lived through THE Plague. It's crazy- and so cool!

Admittedly, I know there is a lot of critical study around this text that I am missing and things that I have failed to recognize, but Boccaccio's brilliance lies in the fact that he is able to create a work that is valid and entertaining. It's the perfect combination of study and pleasure. I would re-read this in a heartbeat. I recommend it, especially if you doubt that you will like it. You will. For one, he treats of nobles and peasants indifferently; and in the final and incredibly sadistic story he even asserts that these distinctions are of no importance compared with personal merit.

At times Boccaccio even seems like a proto-feminist: Women are central to the book, as Boccaccio frames the collection of stories as a diversion for women who have been forced into idleness by their social position. The way he speaks of monks and nuns would be scandalous even now. There are many moments in the book in which he seems to be advocating a kind of hippy-ish tolerance for the pleasures of the flesh, condemning all opponents to sensual delight as hypocrites and fools.

He even portrays homosexuality as an amusing foible rather than a deadly sin. Considering all this, it is difficult to imagine the reaction if it had been published considerably later. It seems that tolerance does not progress in a neat line. But each of these tales, with very few exceptions, is thoroughly charming for having all the elements of a good story: a setup inevitably involving a man and a woman , a problem normally somebody trying to sleep with someone else , a clever trick to solve it and a dunce to suffer as a consequence , a dramatic climax the heroes are almost foiled , and a satisfying conclusion.

All together, these stories are a treasure trove which every responsible storyteller must pilfer mercilessly. If you are going on a camping trip, you could do much worse than to bring a copy of the Decameron along for the evenings. View 1 comment. The stories themselves are generally bawdy and funny, and in fact this was made into a porno in , and here are some butts to prove it: butts It was influenced in part by the brilliant collection of Middle Eastern tales, the Arabian Nights.

It was a big hit in its time; it was probably read by Chaucer, who probably borrowed parts of it for his great epic The Canterbury Tales. I've read a bunch of non-fiction books recently that at least touch on Italy in the 14th century, and I keep thinking, "Yeah, I understand this from Boccaccio. I get a better sense of these things from the Decameron than from the history books. So if Boccaccio's goal was to describe what life was like in his time, from every imaginable point of view, he has nailed it. Some are bawdy and funny, yes, but there are also a number stories about violence and rape.

Like II. It's an unflinching tour, but it's misted by this irreverent tone that throws you off balance. The intro to this edition claimed that Boccaccio was in some ways a sort of feminist, because his female characters are as strong and willful as his male ones, and this is one of the first times we have female characters portrayed as enjoying sex.

I see the point, but it's also true that they're handed around like paperbacks pretty often. I've been reminded recently how grotesquely hateful the last story in this collection is, and I feel like it's a public service to warn potential future readers about it: it leaves a very bad taste in your mouth. Horrifically misogynist. Skip it - or at least read it out of order, somewhere around the middle, so it's not your last impression.

Apparently Boccaccio himself wasn't crazy about the Decameron, but I think it's pretty dope. Translation Not that I have anything to compare it to, but I found Michael Musa's translation easy to read and entertaining, modern without being over-modern. Thumbs up to that. The first was translator Mike Musa's, from the introduction to my edition; the second was Jack Murnighan's, from a book called Beowulf on the Beach, which is fine but Murnighan can be a bit of a twit. Turns out it's ultra-misogynistic and not to my taste. X: Musa: 3,4, Murnighan: 4, 7, 9, Sep 29, David Lentz rated it really liked it.

This great book is set in a country estate outside Florence during a plague. The meaning of the setting was not lost upon me: with death beckoning from all corners, one is wise to enjoy life and pass the hours sharing experience among those about whom one cares. These comic and tragic tales are told in rotation among a group of wealthy people killing time within a garden, a little island of civilization, a little Eden -- paradise. The vast majority of these tales involve amusing stories abou This great book is set in a country estate outside Florence during a plague.

The vast majority of these tales involve amusing stories about unworthy men who are not attentive to the needs of their women. In this book the women are ardently pursued by other men who satisfy these women far better and the men roundly receive diverse forms punishment for their folly.

Boccaccio could well have provided micro-plots for half the literature of his day, and thereafter, by virtue of his highly inventive story lines. There is a great deal of satire of clergy in diverse positions of power in the church, including insatiable nuns and perverse abbotts looking to overcome the unnatural restraints of their vows of celibacy. Everyone is fair game in this collection of bawdy and irreverent tales, especially the arrogant, proud, unfaithful and powerful.

There's little under the surface here except the messages which emerge from the thwarting of immorality but they are amusing and the reading, although voluminous, is good fun. If you like great literature in the long form, then you'll be highly amused by "The Decameron. Mar 22, Katie rated it really liked it Shelves: medieval , medieval-literature , medieval-sources , fiction , history. The Decameron, a collection of short to short-ish stories told by ten young Florentine men and women during the plague over ten days is a fun if often frustrating bit of fiction.

The stories range from the dazzling, creative and surprising to the more rote and uninspired. The way men and women interact, and are treated by each other, is a fascinating mess of complexities and contradictions. That said, some of the stories are simply not up to the standard of the others. Some stories are simply too long Boccaccio himself even anticipated this complaint in his afterward, and states that these stories were designed for noblewomen who really had nothing better to do with their time anyway.

And while the framing device is a fascinating concept ten people escaping tragedy through storytelling , most of the narrators wind up seeming flat and interchangeable. The two exceptions, Dioneo and Philostrato, are occasionally fun or morbid, respectively. But the rest of the cast amounts to repeated iterations of the well-mannered, slightly witty young socialite, and I kept finding myself going back to figure out which narrator was telling which story. Both works are very, very conscious of time — Dante moves through the clearly delineated circles hell, purgatory and heaven over three distinctive days, with the movement of the sun consistently marked.

The storytelling of the Decameron takes places over ten days with two weekend breaks , with ten narrators per day. View all 11 comments. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. View all 4 comments. We need tales to survive in this world. To escape the Black Death a group of seven young women and three young men flee to a secluded villa outside Florence.

And for two weeks they tell stories - a noble and reasonable way to pass the hard times. Now, The Human Comedy by Balzac comes to mind. In his multi-volume collection, the great novelist was depicting French society of the time. The whole collection i We need tales to survive in this world.

The whole collection is perfectly balanced. I imagine it as a polyptych painted al fresco by… Botticelli, yes, and in most cases, by Piero della Francesca, as I see it. View all 3 comments.

The Decameron

May 24, Czarny Pies rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Anyone who likes dirty jokes. Shelves: favorites , italian-literature. So many people have read this book and so many great authors have borrowed from it, that a GoodReads critic really has no choice but to give it 5 stars. My favourite day, is the one dedicated to the theme and I quote: "When they are twenty, they need it plenty. The problem with the Decameron is that people are terrified by the length. They think of the time required to read all So many people have read this book and so many great authors have borrowed from it, that a GoodReads critic really has no choice but to give it 5 stars.

They think of the time required to read all stories and back off. I solved the problem by resolving to read ten stories every year and finishing in ten years. Once you do this you can begin without fear of failure. I read it in the patio in front of my steam bath in the Karelia. I still think that the 10 stories per year plan is the best.

It allows you to stay in control of the process. To be honest in the third year, at the steam bath the stories acquired the taste of salty popcorn and I read the last stories in three weeks. View 2 comments. I'm happy to have to read the book til day 7 and story 2. The stories were often repetitive and despite the fact that each day offers a different theme, some of the stories easily overlapped and I got to the point where I have no idea what characters feature in which story or which story is even told by which person. I did try to leave days in between the days and then the stories themselves but overall I am still not in t I hate to say I abandoned or DNF'd this but I just couldn't read any more.

I did try to leave days in between the days and then the stories themselves but overall I am still not in the mood to read this entire book.

A new translation of Boccaccio’s Decameron.

matter and the form of the Decameron, one of the most remarka ble works of This content downloaded from on Mon, 24 Jun UTC . Page 4 and Giannozza, the original Italian version of Romeo and Juliet . particular focus on Boccaccio's Decameron, the fundamental text of early on the Italian novella and the art of storytelling, as well as readings of Second edition. . Writing: 2 page reading response to the introduction of Decameron IV: compare Week Reading: Decameron X: 3, 5, Writing: revised second draft of.

Quite a few of the stories were also either a just not good or b not pleasant to read. Some also made fun of women in such a crude way that it soured me a bit. And yes, I am aware that this is book written in the 14th century, but that doesn't make the reading any easier.

I am glad to have read as much as I did and am content to leave it there. Jan 08, Fede rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction , italian. Giovanni Boccaccio's "Decameron" is a huge monument to Italy and to Italians - mercilessly, hilariously portrayed as they really are; when it comes to vices and virtues very little has changed in my country in the last seven centuries, you know. It's a great human mosaic. It's like getting lost in the crowd of a street market, in a kaleidoscope of colours and smells and noises and people pushing, screaming, laughing, sweating Florence, Anno Domini The year of the Great Mortality.

The plague hasn't spared the Italian peninsula in its devastating journey from the Asian stepppes. Boccaccio happens to be among the witnesses of such dreadful interregnum of death and despair and - in his gorgoeus, unforgettable introduction - he depicts the scenes of insanity and fear taking place in the city: the desperate attempts to survive, the bursts of violence, the courage , the meanness.

Most of all, he cries over the spreading amorality of many and praises the heroic generosity of a few kind souls still clinging to their humanity. One day ten youths - three boys and seven girls, whose symbolic names are related to their peculiar qualities - meet in an unidentified Florentine church and decide to escape the city and its dreadful atmosphere. They reach the countryside, that marvellous Tuscan landscape of vineyards and cloisters and orchards, and settle in one of the girls' villa with plenty of flowers, exquisite food, music and games, determined not to be dragged down by the madness of the dying city.

As soon as they get there though, our friends have a very good idea: every afternoon they will meet in the garden, where each of them will tell the company a tale. The daily theme of such tales will be picked by the 'leader', a role to be played by everyone in turn. Thus for ten days - hence the title - the plague, the horrors, the decay are left behind and almost fofgotten: all that really matters is the spring, the sun, the cool stream flowing by and the birds singing and chirping all around. As for the stories, the author explores any possible genre and subject One day is dedicated to happy-ending love adventures, to be followed by a gloomy day of love tragedies in which a grand-guignolesque atmosphere prevails.

Then we find several tales of adventures, war, dangerous journeys, but also the praise of human industriousness and wit. One of the afternoons is indeed dedicated to the celebration of trickery: tales of adulterous affairs, commercial frauds, religious credulousness ruthlessly exploited by shrewd priests and friars All in all, Boccaccio seems to master just any narrative technique. Take his love tales, for instance: they range from the innocence of a teenage romance to lots of satirical blasphemy to the most hilarious obscenity.

His characters curse, insult each other, tell obscene jokes; their language is the true jargon of the streets. It's the hiss of a woman hiding his lover in a barrel, the whisper of a monk in the confessional, the screams of a raging prostitute and her drunken pimp This book is funny, intriguing, historically interesting, anthropologically unparalleled. It's the gargantuan depiction of a whole people and culture. I guess any non-Italian reader will perceive the atmosphere of the narrow streets of Florence, Naples, Venice - the most recurrent settings of these tales, along with remote lands like China and the Middle East.

Moreover, Boccaccio's writing style is so delightfully straightforward that I'm sure nothing gets lost in translation. Forget our 'modern', stereotypical image of the late Middle Ages. Boccaccio's work shows how busy, hectic, lively those days were, when an ambitious middle class was already reshaping Europe: bankers, merchants, craftsmen, city officers were restlessly struggling to emerge and become the pivotal element of a radically new society - the beginning of the humanistic wave that would lead to the Renaissance in less than a century.

Perhaps the Middle Ages were not much more afflicted by dirt, violence, famine, religious fanaticism than today's world is, except that nowadays we have learnt either to make them part of the show-business or turn our head and pretend they don't exist. Which is much easier. What these tragedies and ills lack today is only the blatant form in which they were universally known back then.

This book is the best example of an intellectually and morally honest attitude toward reality we seem to have lost and need to be reminded of. In fact, no civil or religious institution is spared in these pages. A depraved friar with fake wings fitted on his back introduces himself as an Archangel in order to seduce a Venetian lady; a preacher carries around a box full of ashes, telling the peasants they belonged to a martyr burned by the Romans; a landlord kills his daughter for loving a servant; a female monastery recruits a dumb, young and good-looking male worker for illicit purposes This is Boccaccio's "Decameron", and so much more: a diabolically crowded fresco in which the reader loses himself like a time-travelling flaneur.

See also the great film version by Pasolini, set in Naples instead of Florence. View all 7 comments. Being stuck on a couch for a day-and-a-half helps finish off books that have been taking too long to read on a regular basis. It was good to polish off Boccaccio. So the plot is pretty easy to understand. It's 14th century Florence, and there's this pesky plague thing aka, the Black Death hanging around cramping everyone's style.

A handful of folks go off to some safe distance and amuse themselves by telling each other stories - 10 stories a day for 10 days. Cool, right? The problem is th Being stuck on a couch for a day-and-a-half helps finish off books that have been taking too long to read on a regular basis. The problem is the stories get a little repetitive and a lot tedious.

They are best read as bedtime stories, and not probably as a tear-through-this-book kinda read. The stories range from quite sexual to pure politics to even a wee bit of religion thrown in, though other stories encompass all in one. You think stories of the clergy today are downright nasty? You should see what Boccaccio thought of religion in his day. The best part of this book is that you actually learn quite a bit about Italian history and politics by reading these stories.

It's hard to imagine really, especially if you take the stories individually. But as a whole you realize that you're actually a little smarter at the end than you were at the beginning. I can't speak for all the different translations out there of this book, but Mark Musa and Peter Bondanella did a seemingly fantastic job.

Their little footnotes were succinct and appropriate, leaving all pretension at the door. I think I just expected something different from this, and that's certainly not Boccaccio's fault. I'm actually more curious about him, The Man Behind the Book, so if someone knows of a decent Boccaccio biography I'm all ears. And I'm glad to have read this now - another one of those Italian heavyweights aka, Italian Stallions I can mark off my mental list. But let's be fair, shall we? Boccaccio was no Dante. Nov 07, Nathan "N. So I finally found a fifty cent copy of the Penguin Decameron trans'd by McWilliam and here a new trans pops onto the horizon ; this one by Wayne A.

Rebhorn from Norton. Following is a review from the new yorker. Dubin, and described by R. Howard Bloch, in the introduction, as the first substantial collection of fabliaux, i So I finally found a fifty cent copy of the Penguin Decameron trans'd by McWilliam and here a new trans pops onto the horizon ; this one by Wayne A. View all 8 comments.

Il Decameron di Pasolini: Andreuccio, Lisabetta e la novella dell'usignolo

Jul 03, Laura rated it really liked it Recommended to Laura by: Bettie. Shelves: italian-literature , read , audio-books , classics , historical-fiction , fictionth-century. The one hundred stories which make up Giovanni Boccaccio's humane and comic masterpiece, come from all over the world. They are vividly reset by Boccaccio among the flourishing merchant classes in the cities of Renaissance Italy. But their witty, satirical, bawdy voice sounds utterly modern, and their subjects - love, fate, sex, religion, morality - are universal.

Jul 20, Crito rated it liked it Shelves: , short-fiction-and-novellas. One important thing to note about The Decameron is its emphasis on the folksy and a lack of metaphysical import. I read it in succession to The Romance of the Rose , which constructs a grand, cosmic, and ultimately farcical account of courtly love. They ar One important thing to note about The Decameron is its emphasis on the folksy and a lack of metaphysical import. The Decameron is not a cosmic allegory as in the Romance of the Rose, it's a series of stories told by ordinary people about people.

It uses the fantastical only so far as fiction itself is fantastical.

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And above that, it is secular. God is relegated to apostrophe and the human actions of human priests and monks. An excellent story in the third day tells of a woman who instructs a lover who is courting her though it smacks of her courting him via the priest. For example the woman would go to confession and tells the priest how doggedly persistent a lover has been and that she wishes he would not appear outside her window at such and such an hour and so on which the lover hadn't done for the sake of her chastity and purity, and the priest then remonstrates the lover for appearing outside her window at such and such an hour, which of course instructs the lover to go to her window later that night.

The lovers manage to hook up, owed entirely to the assistance of the structural ineptitude of the institutions put in place to prevent that sort of thing. They will stay together for two weeks. Two days must be devoted to personal obligations, and two to religious duties. That leaves ten days. Ten tales times ten days: at the end, they will have a hundred stories. That collection, with various introductions and commentaries, is the Decameron. Boccaccio wrote the book between and , when the values of the Middle Ages valor, faith, transcendence were yielding to those of the Renaissance enjoyment, business, the real.

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Add to shopping cart More information. Bibliografia Boccaccesca. It is a beautiful sight, and also strange. Lope de Vega: El exemplo de casadas. Your wives are not safe with them. Panfilo wants to leave the locus amoenus to go back to the still plague-besieged city for two reasons: to be with Filomena and to be without Fiammetta.

The Middle Ages were by no means over. They gather in ideal fields. Birds sing; jasmine perfumes the air. It is a sort of paradise, and that is what it is based on: Eden. Social relations, too, are idealized, and imbued with the conventions of medieval courtly love. The Decameron has not just one frame—the young people in the countryside—but two.

In the outer one, Boccaccio speaks to the reader directly. As in the songs of the medieval troubadours, love ennobles you. Boccaccio was not a noble; he was one of the nuova gente , the mercantile middle class, whose steady rise since the twelfth century the nobles feared and deplored. Giovanni was born illegitimate, but Boccaccino acknowledged him. When the boy was thirteen, Boccaccino moved from Florence to Naples to work for an important counting house, and he took his son with him, to learn the business: receive clients, oversee inventory, and the like.

Boccaccio did not enjoy this work, and so his indulgent father paid for him to go to university, to study canon law. The Decameron is, unostentatiously, a very learned book.

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He also began to write: romances in verse and prose, mostly. He later said that he had never wanted to be anything but a poet. In Naples, he became one, of the late-medieval stripe. These were the happiest years of his life. When he was in his late twenties, they came to an end. Boccaccino had business reverses. He and Giovanni returned to Florence, which, at that time, was the capital of Italian mercantilism. The young man no doubt recoiled, and then, eventually, he acclimated. Indeed, on the evidence of the Decameron, he came to love this rough-and-tumble world.

The majority of the tales are about people of the merchant class, and the skill they most feature is the one most prized by that class, ingegno: cleverness, wit, thinking on your feet. Only on four of the ten days is cleverness the declared theme, but many stories told on the other days are also about that. Boccaccio still liked gentlefolk, especially highborn ladies, with cheeks like roses, but it is in their commentaries on the tales—and, for the most part, only then—that the Decameron becomes boring.

The proles are what give the book its richness and humor and vital force. A famous tribute to ingenuity is the story of Peronella, told by Filostrato. Peronella spins wool for a living, and her husband is a stonemason.

She is pretty, and soon she has a lover, Giannello. There is a barrel in the house, and Peronella tells Giannello to hide in it.

Giovanni Boccaccio - Renaissance and Reformation - Oxford Bibliographies

When the husband enters, she begins loudly berating him:. Why have you come back home so early like this? It seems to me, seeing you there with your tools in your hands, that you want to take the day off. If you carry on like this, how are we going to live? Where are we supposed to get our bread from? Calm down, the husband says. See that barrel over there?

Well, he just sold it for five silver ducats. Call off the deal, Peronella says. She has sold the barrel for seven ducats, and the man who bought it is right now inside the barrel, checking its condition. Out pops Giannello, claiming that the inside of the barrel needs to be scraped if he is to buy it. The husband climbs in and goes to work.

After the three have finished, simultaneously, Giannello pays the husband the seven ducats and, in a lovely, tart last sentence, gets him to take the barrel to his house. And modern readers can probably also sympathize with the young people in the Decameron who claim that they have a right, by reason of their age, to bed whomever they can. This is probably the dirtiest great book in the Western canon. Some of the unchaste are punished. Tancredi, the prince of Salerno, discovering that his daughter is having an affair with one of his valets, orders that the man be strangled, and his heart cut out.

He then puts the heart in a golden chalice and sends it to his daughter. She unflinchingly raises the bloody organ to her mouth, kisses it, puts it back in the cup, pours poison over it, drinks, and dies. Most important, the miscreants feel no guilt. There may be sorrows, but not that sorrow. Even less do unpunished lovers feel remorse. They often live happily and, despite their former inconstancy, faithfully ever after, either meeting frequently or even, by some means, marrying. The dominant notes of the Decameron are this realism and cheer and disorderliness, but, whatever you say about the book, something else arises to contradict you.

Though Boccaccio insists on Renaissance earthiness, he makes room for elegant medievalisms. The young people often join hands and do the carola , a circle dance born of the Middle Ages. They also, now and then, between tales, deliver long, ornate speeches, full of medieval rhetorical flourishes. You may weary of these refinements and long to get back to the nice, rude tales, but the tension between the two modes is fundamental to the Decameron. Another conflict has to do with religion.

The young people sometimes make ardent professions of faith. They are stupid and lazy. Your wives are not safe with them. By invoking the name Prencipe Galeotto in the alternative title to Decameron , Boccaccio alludes to a sentiment he expresses in the text: his compassion for women deprived of free speech and social liberty, confined to their homes and, at times, lovesick. He contrasts this life with that of the menfolk, who enjoy respite in sport, such as hunting, fishing, riding, and falconry.

In Italy during the time of the Black Death , a group of seven young women and three young men flee from plague-ridden Florence to a deserted villa in the countryside of Fiesole for two weeks. To pass the evenings, each member of the party tells a story each night, except for one day per week for chores, and the holy days during which they do no work at all, resulting in ten nights of storytelling over the course of two weeks. Thus, by the end of the fortnight they have told stories. Each of the ten characters is charged as King or Queen of the company for one of the ten days in turn.

This charge extends to choosing the theme of the stories for that day, and all but two days have topics assigned: examples of the power of fortune; examples of the power of human will; love tales that end tragically; love tales that end happily; clever replies that save the speaker; tricks that women play on men; tricks that people play on each other in general; examples of virtue. Only Dioneo, who usually tells the tenth tale each day, has the right to tell a tale on any topic he wishes, due to his wit.

These frame tale interludes frequently include transcriptions of Italian folk songs. The basic plots of the stories include mocking the lust and greed of the clergy; tensions in Italian society between the new wealthy commercial class and noble families; and the perils and adventures of traveling merchants. Throughout the Decameron the mercantile ethic prevails and predominates. The commercial and urban values of quick wit, sophistication, and intelligence are treasured, while the vices of stupidity and dullness are cured, or punished.

While these traits and values may seem obvious to the modern reader, they were an emerging feature in Europe with the rise of urban centers and a monetized economic system beyond the traditional rural feudal and monastery systems which placed greater value on piety and loyalty. Beyond the unity provided by the frame narrative, the Decameron provides a unity in philosophical outlook. Throughout runs the common medieval theme of Lady Fortune , and how quickly one can rise and fall through the external influences of the " Wheel of Fortune ".

Boccaccio had been educated in the tradition of Dante's Divine Comedy , which used various levels of allegory to show the connections between the literal events of the story and the Christian message. However, the Decameron uses Dante's model not to educate the reader but to satirize this method of learning. The Roman Catholic Church , priests, and religious belief become the satirical source of comedy throughout. This was part of a wider historical trend in the aftermath of the Black Death which saw widespread discontent with the church. Many details of the Decameron are infused with a medieval sense of numerological and mystical significance.

It is further supposed [ by whom? Boccaccio himself notes that the names he gives for these ten characters are in fact pseudonyms chosen as "appropriate to the qualities of each". The Italian names of the seven women, in the same most likely significant order as given in the text, are Pampinea, Fiammetta, Filomena, Emilia, Lauretta, Neifile, and Elissa. The men, in order, are Panfilo, Filostrato, and Dioneo. Boccaccio focused on the naturalness of sex by combining and interlacing sexual experiences with nature.

Boccaccio borrowed the plots of almost all his stories just as later writers borrowed from him. Although he consulted only French, Italian and Latin sources, some of the tales have their origin in such far-off lands as India, Persia, Spain, and other places. Some were already centuries old. The frame narrative structure though not the characters or plot originates from the Panchatantra , which was written in Sanskrit before AD and came to Boccaccio through a chain of translations that includes Old Persian , Arabic , Hebrew , and Latin.

Even the description of the central current event of the narrative, the Black Plague which Boccaccio surely witnessed , is not original, but based on the Historia gentis Langobardorum of Paul the Deacon , who lived in the 8th century. Some scholars have suggested that some of the tales for which there is no prior source may still not have been invented by Boccaccio, but may have been circulating in the local oral tradition, with Boccaccio simply the first person known to have recorded them. Boccaccio himself says that he heard some of the tales orally.

In VII, 1, for example, he claims to have heard the tale from an old woman who heard it as a child. The fact that Boccaccio borrowed the storylines that make up most of the Decameron does not mean he mechanically reproduced them. Most of the stories take place in the 14th century and have been sufficiently updated to the author's time that a reader may not know that they had been written centuries earlier or in a foreign culture.

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Scholars have even been able to verify the existence of less famous characters, such as the tricksters Bruno and Buffalmacco and their victim Calandrino. Still other fictional characters are based on real people, such as the Madonna Fiordaliso from tale II, 5, who is derived from a Madonna Flora who lived in the red light district of Naples.

Boccaccio often intentionally muddled historical II, 3 and geographical V, 2 facts for his narrative purposes. Within the tales of The Decameron , the principal characters are usually developed through their dialogue and actions, so that by the end of the story they seem real and their actions logical given their context. Another of Boccaccio's frequent techniques was to make already existing tales more complex. A clear example of this is in tale IX, 6, which was also used by Chaucer in his " The Reeve's Tale ", which more closely follows the original French source than does Boccaccio's version.

In the Italian version, the host's wife and the two young male visitors occupy all three beds and she also creates an explanation of the happenings of the evening. Both elements are Boccaccio's invention and make for a more complex version than either Chaucer's version or the French source a fabliau by Jean de Boves. The table below lists all attempts at a complete English translation of the book.

The information on pre translations is compiled from the G. McWilliam's introduction to his own translation. It can be generally said that Petrarch's version in Rerum senilium libri XVII, 3, included in a letter he wrote to his friend Boccaccio, was to serve as a source for all the many versions that circulated around Europe, including the translations of the very Decameron into French, Catalan — translated by Bernat Metge — and Spanish.