The Decameron (c.1351) was written in the wake of the Black Death, a shattering epidemic which had shaken Florence's confident entrepreneurial society to its core.
In a country villa outside the city, ten young noble men and women who have escaped the plague decide to tell each other stories. Boccaccio's skill as a dramatist is masterfully displayed in this virtuoso performance of one hundred tales, vivid portraits of people from all stations in life, with plots which revel in a bewildering variety of human reactions. Themes are playfully restated from one story to another within an elegant and refined framework. One of Chaucer's most fruitful sources for the Canterbury Tales, Boccaccio's work artfully combines the essential ingredients of narrative: fate and desire, crises and quick-thinking.
This new translation by Guido Waldman captures the exuberance and variety and tone of Boccaccio's masterpiece.
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'This new translation of The Decameron is especially valuable for the manner in which it accurately imitates the divergent tones and structures of Boccaccio's prose. Boccaccio's art is an exercise in brinkmanship which leads characters and readers alike into a turmoil of moral and social disorder only to retrieve them within his formal literary structure at the end. In common with the main text, this introduction will prove very useful both to the general
reader and to the student unable to read in the Italian.'
Christopher C. Stevens. Italian Studies, XLIX, 1994