The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio Translated by Frances Winwar - Complete and Unabridged.
DESCRIPTION: Hardcover with Dust Jacket: 666 pages. Publisher: The Modern Library; (1955). The Decameron' is a fascinating example of classic literature that remains fresh and entertaining today. Written in the mid-14th century, it concerns the first major outbreak of the black plague in Europe, which emerged in Italy in approximately 1347. Boccaccio begins, in the prologue, by stating his purpose for writing the book - namely, to entertain literate women with nothing else to do with their time. The story itself concerns ten young Florentines (seven women - Pampinea, Filomena, Neifile, Fiammetta, Elissa, Lauretta, and Emilia; and three men - Panfilo, Dioneo, and Filostrato) who flee the city in hopes of escaping the plague. To occupy themselves during this time, they tell each other stories, with each person telling one story per day to make a total of 100 stories over the course of the entire book. At the beginning of the first day, Boccaccio provides an excellent and detailed description of the plague itself. The book ends with the refugees returning to their homes, and a closing epilogue from the author.
CONDITION: Shelf wear and soiling to Dust Jacket, yellowing pages and in good condition.
PLEASE SEE IMAGES BELOW FOR JACKET DESCRIPTION(S) AND FOR PAGES OF PICTURES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK.
PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW.
REVIEW: The Decameron is an entertaining series of one hundred stories written in the wake of the Black Death, recounted by young citizens of Florence who have fled the city in order to escape the plague. These young unmarried nobles, the "beautiful people" of the age, decide to wait out the Florentine plague in their country estates, amusing each other every evening with earthy stories, some outright bawdy, others pointing to a moral. This Italian book, written in 1351, inspired Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Balzac, and remains one of the most enjoyable anthologies of short stories ever written.
The stories portray vivid portraits of people from all stations in life in Medieval Europe, with plots that revel in a bewildering variety of human reactions. Giovanni Boccaccio was born the son of a Florentine merchant in 1313. "The Decameron", completed sometime between 1348 and 1352, was his most influential contribution to world literature, and has remained popular from its original publication to today. He died in Certaldo, Italy, in 1375.
REVIEW: The grim, solemn portrayals of humanity in most medieval art would lead us to think of the Middle Ages as a harsh, heartless time of disease, ignorance, oppressive piety, and puritanical drudgery. However "The Decameron" shows that people back then did indeed have a sense of humor, and they needed it more than ever during the Black Plague of the mid-14th Century. The book's background is an eerie reflection of the time in which it was written. Seven young ladies and three young men from Florence, Italy, depressed and frightened about the plague that is currently sweeping throughout the lands and taking large chunks out of the population, decide to escape to the countryside, camp out in vacant castles, and tell each other stories to distract themselves from the horrors of the plague and bide their time until it passes.
Each of them tells a story per day for ten days -- one hundred stories total -- and each day has an established theme which the stories told that day must follow. The stories are simple fables about love, adultery, deception, generosity, and fortune, in which stupid or gullible people are fooled, selfish people are cheated, arrogant people get their comeuppance, and smart, honest, or virtuous people are rewarded. Running the gamut from farcically ridiculous to decadently ribald to melodramatically sad, they are apparently the kinds of stories people back then probably would have found entertaining.
REVIEW: Boccaccio's unabashedly sensuous masterpiece begins with a counterpoint as the narrator moves from a description of the pain of lovesickness to the ravages of the Black Death. Set in 1348, this great piece of literature explores human nature through one hundred linked tales traded by ten youthful nobles who escape to a country estate as the Plague rages over Florence. In Boccaccio's account of this turbulent time, the veneer of traditional morality and customs has fallen by the wayside in the face of widespread sickness and death, allowing the young men and women to rule themselves. By turns witty, tender, bawdy, and wise, the narratives brilliantly reveal human nature and explore both the comedy and tragedy of life. Peopled by nobles and knights, pilgrims and peasants, doctors and nuns, lovers and gamblers, "The Decameron" is a towering monument of medieval literature.
REVIEW: For more than five centuries Giovanni Boccaccio's "The Decameron" has stood virtually unchallenged in its supremacy as the world's greatest collection of tales. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Keatts, and many other literary immortals found in these Florentine stories a never-failing inspiration and a veritable source book for plot material. To the modern reader, "The Decameron" affords undiminished stimulation and pleasure, despite the strictures and the vain attempts at suppression by meddling and squeamish censors.
REVIEW: I had to read this over 6 weeks while studying in Tuscany. It is quite humorous and interesting, however it goes against everything that I learned in Catholic school. Ironically most of the dirty deeds being done are by those who've been chosen to "spread the good word". It is fabulous however when reading it one must forget their background and dive in over the top to be able to move through the book.
REVIEW: I very much enjoyed "The Decameron". It is interesting and easy to read. The characters in the various stories are ordinary people and this makes them seem very real. Many of them actually are based on real people. Some of the stories, too, are inspired by actual events. I also liked the organization of the book, as it was always very easy to find a "stopping place". With some novels, it's hard to set them down, but since The Decameron is a collection of short stories, one can always stop at the end of any particular story and come back later. The translation is very user-friendly while still retaining the 14th century "feel" of it. The book is great fun to read. The stories are lively and colorful, and often quite humorous. It provides an excellent insight into the everyday lives of people during this time period.
REVIEW: Unlike a lot of the writers who sprang 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.
REVIEW: 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 brilliance 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 scoundrels 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.
REVIEW: A mammoth collection of medieval tales! This mammoth collection of short stories was written in the wake of the Bubonic Plague which killed a third of the population of Europe back in the 14th century. The stories are for the most part really good narratives, and they're told through ten young noblemen who are trying to hide out from the plague to save themselves and tell these stories to pass the time. Written in a clear, classical, controlled, strongly plotted style, these are tales about sex, violence, intrigue; but nothing gratuitous of course. Good, easy-to-read translation!
The publisher, "The Modern Library" has had an enormous impact on the American literary scene. It is a classic story of American entrepreneurship, and the birth of one of the world's major publishing houses. Two generations of students bought the product of "The Modern Library" avidly. The series was first started in 1917, and was essentially a crib on the British Everyman series. The purpose of this series was to make available to the general public the "classics" of literature:the great titles by the world's greatest authors:in affordable, attractive bindings. Such works were oftentimes out of the financial reach of the average reader, books put out by other publishing houses at the time sold for around $2. The first books published by "The Modern Library" were 60 cents each. Though the price was increased to 95 cents in 1920 as costs had risen considerably, the price was to remain the same until 1946.
In 1925 two young employees purchased the rights to publish the series from the original publisher. Immediately the two young publishers set about giving their purchase a new look. Bad titles were dropped, the smelly leatherette bindings were replaced in favor of cloth, and the distinctive logo - a running torchbearer - was devised. Between 1925 and 1927 the new owners devoted their time exclusively to "The Modern Library". Not a penny was taken out of the business. Cerf and Klopfer went to the Department stores and bookshops themselves. They checked their books on the shelves themselves and made sure that the missing titles were replaced. Buyers knew that they were meeting the actual publishers and liked that. Hundreds of new outlets were found to carry their books, and sales began to soar. Their investment of $215,000 more than paid for itself within those first two years.
The Modern Library, in fact, was doing so well that the new owners found themselves with more time than what they knew to do with. They played a lot of golf and bridge, but even then there was time to spare. Cerf says, in his autobiography, he missed the exciting days of the publication of a new book. Cerf and Klopfer decided that, as a sort of hobby, they would publish deserving and underappreciated quality books they liked and at random. Thus in 1927, the publishing giant "Random House" was born. Most people think that The Modern Library is an offshoot of Random House when in fact the opposite is the truth. Random House made its debut with a pamphlet announcing the publication of seven limited editions from the Nonesuch Press, and the course of publishing history was changed.
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