Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Decameron (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – December 3, 2002

4.1 out of 5 stars 141 customer reviews

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Mass Market Paperback, December 3, 2002
$3.22 $0.01

Saving Sara (Redemption Series)
Losing her daughter seems like the end, but can a new start offer Sara fresh hope? Learn More
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Giovanni Boccaccio was born in Florence, Italy, in 1313, and he died there in 1375. His life thus coincided with the flowering of the early Renaissance and indeed his closest friend was Petrarch, the other towering literary figure of the period. During his lifetime, Boccaccio was a diplomat, businessman, and international traveler, as well as the creator of numerous works of prose and poetry. Of his achievements, The Decameron, completed sometime between 1350 and 1352, remains his lasting contribution—immensely popular from its original appearance to the present day—to world literature.


Mark Musa is a professor at the Center for Italian Studies at Indiana University. A former Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellow, Musa is the author of a highly acclaimed translation of Dante's Divine Comedy.

Mark Musa and Peter Bondanella are professors at the Center for Italian Studies at Indiana University. Mark Musa, a former Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellow, is the author of a highly acclaimed translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Peter Bondanella, a former Younger Humanist and Senior Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, has published, among other works, Machiavelli and the Art of Renaissance History and Federico Fellini: Essays in Criticism. He is coeditor of The Dictionary of Italian Literature and The Portable Machiavelli.

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics (December 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451528662
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451528667
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1.4 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,142,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This fascinating fourteenth-century text is as complex as it is misunderstood. The premise is simple enough: the author creates a fictional set-up where, over ten days, seven female and three male characters who are cooped up in a country estate tell one another a total of 100 stories. The title, "The Decameron," literally means "ten day's work."
But this framing technique of ten narrators is hardly the point. The star of this work are the tales told by these sequestered characters. These 100 stories are chillingly sneaky in how they will mess with your mind. At first the tales will appear shocking, overtly sexual, or even knee-slappingly funny. (Think "Monty Python.") But in fact, like Aesop, the great Italian prose author Boccaccio tucks an ambiguous, gnawing moral into each tale. You will laugh at first, and then the bittersweet truth of each story's lesson will zap you.
The true brillance of "The Decameron" is that it is kaleidoscopic in nature: while all the tales are somewhat similar to one another, each story is truly unique in how it aligns its characters, its structure, its action, and its moral. The basic ingredients are similar in dozens of stories, and yet their outcomes prove to be wholly different. So instead of getting "re-runs," you the reader wind up in a quicksand-like universe where some good-hearted characters are punished, others rewarded, and some scoundrely characters are quashed while other soar.
It is Boccaccio's humorous (yet ultimately grim) portrait of our herky-jerky, you-never-know world, where a person can never be sure of his destiny despite his conduct, that makes this work brilliant. Behind the ribaldry and the chuckles, this late-medieval author proves that our world (sometimes benevolent, sometimes cruel, but always inscrutable) is, indeed, nothing but a human comedy.
1 Comment 176 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Giovanni Boccaccio is one of the three supreme literary masters of the Italian Renaissance--sharing those laurels with Dante and Petrarch--and he is also the most accessible. Written in the 1350s, in the wake of the worst part of the Black Plague (which would kill off one-third of Europe's population), THE DECAMERON is a collection of one hundred surprisingly light, hilariously funny and frequently bawdy short stories. In his preface, Boccaccio claims to have intended them to entertain Italian women who spent most of their lives indoors. Seven young Florentine ladies and three young gentlemen sojourn together to a Tuscan villa to escape the contagion-filled city. They pass each of their ten days in the picturesque countryside with long walks, good food and wine, jovial games, and oh yes, telling stories. Each of them is crowned queen or king for a day and gets to choose the order of the telling. This framework combined with the beautifully described rural setting makes the reader, too, feel warm, welcome, and one of the party.
Boccaccio indulges in a popular form of satire against the foul and corrupt members of the fourteenth century clergy--one of the ten actually admits that it's "too easy" to pick on such scoundrels. With humor and the power of shame he attacks both the hypocrisy of the clergy and the hypocrisy toward which the Catholic Church's sexually repressive laws drove people. Here we find a group of nuns fighting over the sexual favors of the convent gardener; there a wily cleric indulges his prurient urges by convincing a foolish woman that he is the Angel Gabriel; still another adulteress cows her angry husband by claiming he is not enough to satisfy her lust--is it fair that she throw the surplus to the dogs?
Read more ›
Comment 65 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Unlike a lot of the writers who sprung out of the medieval period, the Decameron is extremely readable. 100 stories organized into 10-day chunks makes this book a classic piece of literature... and unlike Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, you don't have to wade through the language to get at the meaning (part of this has to do with the translation of Italian into modern English).

During the Plague of the mid-14th century, ten people (7 women and 3 men) escape the city of Florence to the then-countryside of Fiesole. Each day they elect a king or queen, who dictates the theme of the day's stories. Centering around love, lust, sex, and relationships between people, the stories in the Decameron transcend stereotypes of the middle ages and created a scintillating and fresh approach to the art of storytelling. The Decameron is one of my favorite novels; this is the second time I've read it, and it never ceases to amaze me by the depth of human life represented.

In addition, this is an excellent translation of the original; the translators manage to get at Boccaccio's meaning without destroying his prose.
Comment 71 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Don't be intimidated by this medieval masterpiece. It is actually just a collection of very loosely related short stories, most of which are rather comical. You need not read them in one sitting and you need not read them all. In fact, the editors provide a list of their favorite stories (an alternative view is that they are telling you which ones to skip).
Great modern translation.
Comment 70 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The translation that you choose will have an impact upon your enjoyment of any work written in a foreign language. In the case of The Decameron, the translations recommended by "The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation" are those by (1) G.H. McWilliams and (2) Bondanella and Musa.

I purchased the McWilliams translation and found it to be enjoyable, although slightly wooden. There were also several howlers (e.g., addressing the women in the group as "Delectable Ladies.")

There's a 100+ page introduction, which I found to be overly academic and tedious. This is, as far as most readers are concerned, a fun book to read; the introduction should not detract from that experience.

This volume has extensive endnotes at the end of the book. Most of them are of little interest to the general reader and add nothing to one's enjoyment of the stories. Since they are short, and given modern editing technology, they could just as easily been included as footnotes at the bottom of the page on which they appear, which would have been more convenient. (Inexplicably, the notes to the Introduction are footnotes.)

The book is bawdy, but not obscene. McWilliams, justifiably I think, is of the opinion that certain passages are misogynistic and homophobic, which seemed to me to be correct. The latter is odd, because Florence during the Renaissance was notorious throughout Europe for its large homosexual population (most of its great artists reputedly were gay). Forewarned is forearmed.

I have not read the Bondanella and Musa translation, but McWilliams (who appears to be remarkably fair) speaks well of it in his Second Preface. Based upon the foregoing, I would choose it instead.
Comment 107 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: classics literature