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I guess this might be a good time to finally finish reading this I started this book twice in the past, in 2010 and 2014 but never managed to finish. The Decameron is a set of one hundred stories told to each other by a group of ten people, seven women and three men, over ten days All these stories exist within one story which is about this group of people who come together in Florence during an outbreak of the plague and how they react to it which is by going off into the surrounding countryside and recreating a kind of temporary Eden outside the ravages of the times Beyond that there are the author s intentions and his defence of his wo The Decameron is a set of one hundred stories told to each other by a group of ten people, seven women and three men, over ten days All these stories exist within one story which is about this group of people who come together in Florence during an outbreak of the plague and how they react to it which is by going off into the surrounding countryside and recreating a kind of temporary Eden outside the ravages of the times Beyond that there are the author s intentions and his defence of his work, which are a further frame to the whole work Boccaccio sees stories as a form of education in this case to teach his reader, which he largely assumed to be women since references to potential male readers are rare, about love Love is a vague word in English, you can love to have tea with your chips, you might love your dog, or the colour yellow on a bedroom door None of those feature in the Decameron, love here is of the sexual or occasionally of the romantic kind.The new society of the ten people is based on affinity and trust They live in common, although apparently using the estates of other people, and they benefit from the labour of servants so this is socially exclusive, unlike The Canterbury Tales in which people come from a mix of social backgrounds The new society is time bound and intended from the first, like reading itself, to be a temporary respite from events They have a monarch to rule each day, but each of the ten in turn gets one day to rule One of the advantages of taking part in a group read like our one of the Decameron is benefiting from the contributions that all the other readers make ReemK10 pointed out that that there is a wealth of meaning in the character names and in the complex of numbers three men and seven women, the importance of ten and so on but as a reader all of that largely passed me over The only character who really stood out for me was Dioneo, and not because he was Dionysian but because he got to tell the last story of everyday This at last was a reference point everything else was in flux for me I felt at one moment that Panfilo was an author stand in, but that moment passed and life returned to normal In other words the Decameron has intricate foundations but they don t interfere with the appearance of the building For the reader there are simply one hundred stories, divided into ten days set in a framing narrative with some linking text The stories give an impression of the world view of leisured middle to upper class urban people socially below the nobility but of high enough status and wealth to be able to look down on people who are overly concerned with business of mid fourteenth century north Italy The geographical scope ranges over the entire Mediterranean, with a couple of stories set in France and England England is as exotic here as Saladin, a fantasy destination where dreams can become true there are no stories set in China or other far eastern locations despite The Travels of Marco Polo The Merchant of Prato gives an idea of just how natural and everyday that geographical scope was to those involved in commerce in Italy at that time The stories are set throughout history, some in antiquity, others in the recent past, many are roughly contemporary to Boccaccio s time Boccaccio may not have invented any of the stories Many are recognisable retellings, and some will in turn be retold by Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales, others like the horrible Griselda story seem to have been widely known at the time and pop up in a variety of sources as a role model for a good woman see for instance Le Menagier de Paris.In The Canterbury Tales Chaucer reuses and adapts a few stories from Decameron and takes Boccaccio s idea of a framing narrative however he makes an important change Chaucer s storytellers cover a fairly broad social spectrum view spoiler albeit with a southern English bias hide spoiler , Boccaccio s reflect one view point that of Florentine urban Patrician families They own landed estates, but don t have aristocratic titles view spoiler at least not yet, they are probably the kinds of people who with judicious marriages or helpful gifts to the right persons might reasonably hope to acquire one in time hide spoiler , they admire aristocratic values and although their family wealth probably comes from trade and commerce, too pronounced an interest in business is felt to be improper.Being chaste, orto the point being seen to be chaste, is an important attribute for the women of this class and governs how they are perceived in society Therefore the ability to conduct extramarital relationships with discretion is lionised Oddly although their own reputation is important, persuading a servant to have sexual relations with an over eager suitor or to receive a beating in place of the heroine in exchange for a gift such a suit of clothes is seen as laudable, even by a bishop Morality is a social attribute, what is appropriate depends on the social position of the person, rather than an absolute set of values that is immutable throughout the whole of society view spoiler and that society is strange to modern eyes, within the stories Sicily and southern Italy are seen as different to northern Italy which is however seen as similar to France, or maybe this is not such an unusual viewpoint after all hide spoiler Having said that women of a low social class can be exemplary pre eminently Griselda, and can have some concern for their virtue, equally the poor broadly speaking can be dismissed as simple minded and herd like, ripe to be fooled by any passing quick witted Friar who is prepared to claim that a parrot s feather, in fact, came from an angel s wing It is difficult, and without doubt very unwise, to do what I am doing and attempt to generalise about one hundred stories told by ten narrators as there always seem to be exceptions and nuances of opinion from one story to the next Perhaps if read with paper to hand and a pencil behind the ear, setting out in columns the attitudes revealed in each story, patterns might emerge consistent to particular narrators, or maybe that each day had a particular tone But all of this is perhaps besides the point, this is a compendium of stories Few if any would have been original to Boccaccio, many have deep roots and have been endlessly retold What he has done is collect, adapt and present them within the frame work of this group of seven young women and three men moving between various estates, not many miles outside Florence, over a period of a few days while the plague runs it s course within the city The stories are lively, often funny, and vivid They feature lecherous men particularly priests and friars , cunning plans and generally the victory of the witty Love and Fortune are capitalised and at times appear to be forces in their own right in the universe alongside God view spoiler like the plague they sweep through society without regard to status or duty hide spoiler and one law of nature seems to be that one woman can keep a man happy but it takes many men to please one woman This, given the social importance for a woman of appearing chaste, provides drama and humour in many of the tales Some of the stories have a savage twist view spoiler not all of which were comfortable reading hide spoiler , not always condemned by narrator or his in book audience, a few see a man getting the woman he wants despite her lack of interest, some marriages are between partners of unequal ages, which doesn t seem to have been particularly unusual for the times, and this can be a narrative driver for the pursuit of extra marital pleasures The idea of marriage as a romantic union between two people is a rather unusual one if one takes a broad view of it Marriage in Boccaccio in common with most of human history is a business like affair, for love to develop in it or despite it takes particular skill and the triumph of the witty over the wilful view spoiler some reminded me of the kind of folktales in which the main character has to complete seemingly impossible tasks hide spoiler.So overall what can be concluded about the Decameron Perhaps nothing other than that people have to read it for themselves and that it may not be the medieval Europe that you expected to find After a couple of years, two attempts and two different editions, I have finally finished this book The first great literary accomplishment of 2016.All I can say is that the history of humanity lies on every page of this book Virtues and defects that have illuminated and darkened human existence were eloquently expressed by Boccaccio s brilliant pen that concocted, with mastery and otherworldly wit, one hundred tales told by seven young ladies and three young men who, to contextualize this fin After a couple of years, two attempts and two different editions, I have finally finished this book The first great literary accomplishment of 2016.All I can say is that the history of humanity lies on every page of this book Virtues and defects that have illuminated and darkened human existence were eloquently expressed by Boccaccio s brilliant pen that concocted, with mastery and otherworldly wit, one hundred tales told by seven young ladies and three young men who, to contextualize this fine collection, fled the magnificent city of Florence a place I adore and with which I have a bond that goes beyond the origin of my name and ancestry , trying to escape from the Black Death These stories are mostly about the connections between intelligence and fortune and how the sort of picaresque characters manage to achieve success Often involving eroticism Boccaccio must have been the E.L James of his time but, you know, with writing skills , these tales accentuate the distance from medieval ideals, focusing on the actual human being.Anyway, I started reading this collection in 2013 and failed miserably Statistics06 25 2013 marked as currently reading09 22 2013 page 590 64.0%01 02 2014 marked as will i ever finish it12 10 2015 marked as started reading from page 1, clandestinely12 20 2015 marked as currently reading, officially02 13 2016 marked as finishedBut, as you see, this year I made it It ended up being a rather special read for me, since I happen to have a photo of a loyal companion sitting by my side, a devoted witness of my struggle with his beautiful amber eyes on me, which I can only visualize now view spoiler Hey, he s not dead He s just not with me any hide spoiler A lovely memory is now attached to this wonderful book.May 9, 16 Also on my blog Photo credit Charlie and book me In the 14th century in Europe, during the devastating times of the Black Death, a group of young Florentines seven women and three men decide to flee to seek shelter and escape from the plague in a villa outside of the city of Florence This is the basic frame used by Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio to tell us one hundred tales of life, love and fortune with The Decameron.After leaving the city, in order to pass the time, an idea of telling stories is brought up and each one of the young g In the 14th century in Europe, during the devastating times of the Black Death, a group of young Florentines seven women and three men decide to flee to seek shelter and escape from the plague in a villa outside of the city of Florence This is the basic frame used by Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio to tell us one hundred tales of life, love and fortune with The Decameron.After leaving the city, in order to pass the time, an idea of telling stories is brought up and each one of the young group Pampinea, Fiammetta, Filomena, Emilia, Lauretta, Neifile, Elissa, Panfilo, Filostrato and Dioneo must tell one story per day Starting on the second day, Filomena, who was appointed as the queen of the day they all took turns into being the queen or king decided that the stories to be told in each day should all pertain to a theme previously chosen by the one in charge The only exception to that rule is Dioneo, who asked to have the privilege to be the last one to tell his tale each day and to be freed of the requirement of complying to the day s theme It s been argued that Dioneo served as a way for Boccaccio to express his own views through his stories.I had a lot of pleasant days in the company of the young Florentines, such as the eighth day, where Lauretta chose as a theme stories of tricks women play on men or that men play on women which, of course, is packed with hilarious stories and clever stratagems or the last day, when Panfilo asked that tales about deeds of generosity be told I wonder if Boccaccio intended to leave a hopeful message to his readers after many cases of betrayals and misfortunes.But two days wereenjoyable than others THIRD DAYAs the queen of the day, Neifile ruled that stories where a person has painfully acquired something or has lost it and then regained it should be told for everyone s amusement In that day, Panfilo narrates a very funny tale the fourth one of Dom Felice who, desiring to spend some quality time with Friar Puccio s wife, tells her husband that he should do a penance to gain blessedness Let s just say that Dom Felice should do a lot of penance after that taleOther two stories from that early day remained as some of my favorites FIRST TALEFilostrato tells the story of Masetto da Lamporecchio, a young and handsome man who, deciding to pass as being mute, finds work in a convent of women as a gardener after hearing the old one is no longer there While working, he is noticed by two of the nuns who, curious to find out what s the sensation of being with a man, decide to lie with him As word spreads out, Masetto finds himself working very long extra hoursAlack rejoined the other, what is this thou sayest Knowest thou not that we have promised our virginity to God Oh, as for that, answered the first, how many things are promised Him all day long, whereof not one is fulfilled unto Him An we have promised it Him, let Him find Himself another or others to perform it to HimBoccaccio once again writes an humorous tale packed with religious satire and catholic church criticism Even the abbess, from whom you d expect better discernment and leadership towards what s rightful, can t help but to share of Masetto s services.TENTH TALEDioneo tells the tale of a beautiful and young girl named Alibech who, not being religious but hearing many Christians talking about faith and serving God, wished to find out what it was all about After hearing their response and wandering into the desert in an attempt to become closer to God, she finally meets a monk named Rustico that, tempted by her looks, decided to teach her how to put the devil back into hellWhereupon Rustico, seeing her so fair, felt an accession of desire, and therewith came an insurgence of the flesh, which Alibech marking with surprise, said Rustico, what is this, which I see thee have, that so protrudes, and which I have not Oh my daughter, said Rustico, tis the Devil of whom I have told thee and, seest thou he is now tormenting me most grievously, insomuch that I am scarce able to hold outThis tale was so graphic that in John Payne s translation of The Decameron he decided to include Boccaccio s original words instead of translating them, stating that it was impossible to render the technicalities of that mysterious art into tolerable English FOURTH DAYOn the fourth day, Filostrato, who was appointed re del giorno, demanded his friends to tell stories of lovers whose relationship ended in disaster Fiammetta narrates the first tale of the day, telling the story of Tancredi who, after slaying his daughter Ghismonda s lover, sends her his heart in a golden cup She, then, decides to fill the cup with poison, drinks it and dies.Among other tragic stories, my favorite is the one that follows FIFTH TALEFilomena tells the sad story of Lisabetta who has her lover Lorenzo murdered by her brothers In a dream, he tells her where they buried his body and she decides to take his head and to set it in a pot of basil, whereon she daily weeps a great whilenor did she ever water these with other water than that of her tears or rose or orange flower waterBoccaccio s language and wit in writing here is similar to Cervantes in Don Quixote, as he was able to write about violence, sex or even scatological humor, for example, successfully turning those themes into very light reads, making the episodes funny and enjoyable without shocking his readers Not that he seemed to be in any way afraid of being offensive and raising some eyebrows his tales about clergyman being deceitful or hypocrites , to borrow one of the adjectives he employed in one of the narratives or nuns having sex seem to be a direct criticism and a mockery to their status as holy people.One of the aspects that really amused me was the role of women in his work Boccaccio directly spoke to the gracious ladies with the words below in the first day, defining them as the main audience to his bookAs often, most gracious ladies, as, taking thought in myself, I mind me how very pitiful you are all by nature, so often do I recognize that this present work will, to your thinking, have a grievous and a weariful beginning, inasmuch as the dolorous remembrance of the late pestiferous mortality, which it beareth on its forefront, is universally irksome to all who saw or otherwise knew itOn the fourth day, once again, he addressed the ladies by writing about having been criticized for liking the ladies too much and thinking solely of pleasuring them with his talesThere are then, discreet ladies, some who, reading these stories, have said that you please me overmuch and that it is not a seemly thing that I should take so much delight in pleasuring and solacing you and some have said yet worse of commending you as I doSetting the discussion aside of why he would include that odd defense it seems he was being defensive without having been actually attacked on Decamerone, I was amazed by the extensive portraits Boccaccio painted of women they were cunning, sad, some were cheaters, others were passionate, subjugated and the roles go on For living in a time where men loved and idolized, and described women as being the most beautiful things to have ever walked on the earth women so much, constantly elevating them to goddesses status, it seems that Boccaccio masterfully wrote an array of human like characters with great range of emotions.Film adaptation there s been many adaptations, but I ve only watched one 1971 s Il Decameron by Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini Who would be better than the ever so controversial filmmaker to add extra layers of mockery, satire and erotica to Boccaccio s already teasing tales The director nicely connected nine of the stories through the fifth tale of the sixth day where Pasolini played the painter Giotto This film is in no way necessary to complement the book, but it was a great one hour and a half of pure fun Rating Boccaccio s work proved to be a fine companion as I often read his stories on my commute to work and found myself giggling all the time I can see myself re reading some tales from time to time, like you would with a daily reflections book For that, 4 stars Amazing.I m utterly flabbergasted by how good this is Forty years before The Canterbury Tales took England by storm, a little tiny place called Italy was having a full blown RENAISSANCE So why the hell have I been avoiding all these fantastic pieces of art, anyway Because they re in Italian For SHAME Fortunately, this translation is fantastic and you know what It really holds up It has everything a public who wants to be entertained could ever desire A hundred short stories framed by Amazing.I m utterly flabbergasted by how good this is Forty years before The Canterbury Tales took England by storm, a little tiny place called Italy was having a full blown RENAISSANCE So why the hell have I been avoiding all these fantastic pieces of art, anyway Because they re in Italian For SHAME Fortunately, this translation is fantastic and you know what It really holds up It has everything a public who wants to be entertained could ever desire A hundred short stories framed by nobles hiding out while the Black Plague ravages Europe, eating, frolicking, and telling stories every night for ten nights Do you think a quarantine is a recipe for depression and disaster Muahahahahaha NO Let s just put it this way there ssex, laughter, trickery, sex, adultery, sex, theft, cons, sex, and hilarious situations in these stories than you d find in the entire works of Shakespeare And let s put this in perspective Chaucer and Shakespeare stole a TON of s t from Boccaccio All of it funny and light and clever and wickedly perverse.I always knew that literature, in general, is an incestuous lot, but between these many classic tales of spouses pulling fast ones on each other or selfless tales of true love or steadfastness or tales of corruption, greed, and confidence games, I m tempted to just throw in the hat and say this guy has it ALL.I know it ain t true I ve read enough Italians fromthan a millennia prior to put paid to that idea But STILL This is entertaining as hell And I thought Chaucer was a RIOT, too.It just goes to show never judge a book by its cover You might be losing out on some GREAT comedy Nothing is so indecent that it cannot be said to another person if the proper words are used to convey itGiovanni Boccaccio, The DecameronLike The Canterbury Tales, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, The Arabian Nights Tales from a Thousand and One Nights, etc., The Decameron is an early masterpiece of literature It is one of those books I avoided because I thought it would be stilted and boring Hells NASTY Bells was I wrong Boccaccio is funny, flippant, irreverent,Nothing is so indecent that it cannot be said to another person if the proper words are used to convey itGiovanni Boccaccio, The DecameronLike The Canterbury Tales, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, The Arabian Nights Tales from a Thousand and One Nights, etc., The Decameron is an early masterpiece of literature It is one of those books I avoided because I thought it would be stilted and boring Hells NASTY Bells was I wrong Boccaccio is funny, flippant, irreverent, libidinous, provocative, inspiring, insulting, crazy and always always entertaining 100 stories told during the the summer of 1348 as the Black Death is ravaging Florence and Europe Ten aristocratic youths take to the country to escape the death, stink and bodies of the City and to hang out and amuse themselves on stories of love and adventure and sex and trickery Bad priests, evil princes, saints, sinners, and various twists and turns paints a detailed picture of Italy from over 660 years ago that seems just as modern and funky as today Things have certainly changed, but lords and ladies it is incredible just how many things have stayed the same Preface to the Second EditionTranslator s IntroductionSelect Bibliography The Decameron NotesMapsIndex to StoriesIndex to Translator s Introduction and Notes &Free Epub ⇥ Le Décaméron ⇫ Boccace a trente cinq ans enquand, juste effet de la col re de Dieu , clate la grande peste qui flagelle l Italie Compos dans les ann es qui suivent, le Livre des dix journ es s ouvrira sur ce tableau apocalyptique, la force grandiose et terrible, qui n a rien envier la description de la peste d Ath nes chez Thucydide C est en effet dans ce contexte que sept jeunes filles courtoises et trois jeunes hommes qui ont conserv leur noblesse d me se retirent sur les pentes enchanteresses de Fiesole pour fuir la contagion de Florence, devenue un immense s pulcre, et pendant deux semaines se r unissent l ombre des bosquets et se distraient chaque jour par le r cit de dix nouvelles, une pour chacun, tant t sur un sujet libre, tant t sur un sujet fix l avance pour tous, par la reine ou le roi de la journ e Tel est le premier chef d uvre de la prose litt raire en langue vulgaire My plan for 2020 is to explore the history of the novel by returning to its origins, beginning with Rabelais and Cervantes And so I decided to close this year with The Decameron as a sort of introduction to the project, in order to be able to better recognise the stylistic innovations introduced by those later writings I don t think I would have read it otherwise.In all honesty, The Decameron offers very little to a modern reader It is very much of its time, filled with witty references to lo My plan for 2020 is to explore the history of the novel by returning to its origins, beginning with Rabelais and Cervantes And so I decided to close this year with The Decameron as a sort of introduction to the project, in order to be able to better recognise the stylistic innovations introduced by those later writings I don t think I would have read it otherwise.In all honesty, The Decameron offers very little to a modern reader It is very much of its time, filled with witty references to local people and places, which would have been easily understood and considered very clever at the time, but which areor less lost on us today, even with the benefit of footnotes Its themes are not universal It is concerned, on the whole, with trifling subjects, witty turns of phrase, and bawdy adventures While the stories can be entertaining, they lack the sort of substance we have come to expect today But is difficult to criticise the book on this basis given its place in history It was certainly outstanding in its own historical context, as is apparent in its influence on literature for many hundreds of years.One thing I found notable about the book is its high cynicism its lack of reverence for political and religious figures, as well as a lack of credence for religious ideas in general There is rarely a moral element to these stories, which focus instead on material and corporeal concerns This is contrary to what I had expected, given the position and authority of the Church at the time.This is as good a time as any to note that the rating system doesn t really hold for books like The Decameron, and others I intend to read next year The Decameron doesn t deserve anything less than five stars given its historical importance But I feel that automatically giving the maximum rating to the classics is not all that helpful an indication as to whether a book is still relevant and worth reading today So I will try find a balance in my rating between historical context and my own reaction as seems appropriate Permit me to offer another roar of support for reading The Decameron A divine mathematical structure ten parts of ten chapters with ten characters told over ten days props up this rollicking ride of classic storytelling A modern translation this ed from J.G Nichols renders the original in all its libidinous, virtuous mischief, making each page a rapturous pleasure to turn This book needs no further endorsement from me Make arrangements to read The Decameron before your fatal heart a Permit me to offer another roar of support for reading The Decameron A divine mathematical structure ten parts of ten chapters with ten characters told over ten days props up this rollicking ride of classic storytelling A modern translation this ed from J.G Nichols renders the original in all its libidinous, virtuous mischief, making each page a rapturous pleasure to turn This book needs no further endorsement from me Make arrangements to read The Decameron before your fatal heart attack