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The Decameron (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 29, 2003
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“McWilliam’s finest work, [his] translation of Boccaccio’s Decameron remains one of the most successful and lauded books in the series.” —The Times (London)
From the Back Cover
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.
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Good translation of a classic renaissance text, containing short stories.
A group of nobles (the 1% from the 14th century) gather in the country to avoid the plague, and agree to tell each other stories to pass the time.
Note that the 4 questions Amazon 'lead-in" is silly:
Plot: I guess full of surprises. Each story stands by itself uniquely.
Mood: Ranges from dark to comedic to lighthearted to thoughtful. But they only let you check one box!
Pace: Usually fast-paced, since each story has to last for just one "session."
Characters: Many stereotypes (as one would expect!) so in these short shorts, no deep character analysis
To prompt the brawl, ask a bit too loudly who was the first great national poet.
Watch as Green King Abbot Ale and Moretti bottles are smashed, fail to break like in the movies and a bunch of guys in tweed look around for something bigger than a bar napkin to stop the blood flow. Teaching assistants will enter with towels, bandages, and the hope their mentor lasts long enough for a good letter of recommendation.
Once the prof's are stabilized the cases for England and Italy will be phrased.
Britain gets Chaucer whose wit, use of irony in irony, is remarkably fresh even today. There is a humanity found in his characters—the most vile prejudice in the work comes from a nun, who given her airs, reveals the heart of darkness in us all.
Italy gets Dante, a writer who appears to have known more even than Borges, who created a new poetic form, and sustained intellect and near perfection in three volumes. His effort would be the equivalent of walking into a dojo and fighting every master but downing each in the sequence for mastering each step of the many katas.
Nobody is going to mention Boccaccio and nobody is going to fight for the poet who wrote Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Sir G’s poet made the mistake in writing in the wrong dialect.
Boccaccio wrote the first book made up entirely of short stories. He pulled together snippets from earlier stories and his efforts were pillaged by later writers (Shakespeare, chief among them).
Skillful, occasionally elegant, hilarious, engaging, and with a very high ratio of great to so-so stories, Boccaccio might be viewed as we do Stephen King, a masterful artist who is grotesquely undervalued.
Great story tellers of their times often fade more completely than do old soldiers.