2007: 131. The Decameron


“Whenever, fairest ladies, I pause to consider how compassionate you all are by nature, I invariably become aware that the present work will seem to you to possess an irksome and ponderous opening.”

The Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio

How’s this for a change of pace??  I got to the “B” section of my library in my commuting book quest, and the pickings were slim enough that I decided to give Boccaccio a try.  Foundations of modern literature and all that jazz.  I was actually pleasantly surprised by the book.  The translation is top notch, and the stories are relatively interesting, in that they are almost all about 1) sex - mostly in the context of wives stepping out on their husbands and 2) the corrupt priesthood - usually having sex with said wives.   Basically, this book is a dirty and scurrilous rag, like the Enquirer of the 1400’s.  So that made it much more interesting than I had expected.

That having been said, the book gets pretty repetitive pretty quickly.  It consists of ten days, and each day consists of ten stories.  The stories are usually on a theme, so you read ten stories in a row about, say, “the tricks that people in general, men and women alike, play on each other”  which gets dull pretty quickly.  My favorite day, therefore, was day 9 when people could speak on any topic that pleased them.  My favorite story, however, was the one about the hermit priest who seduced the young maiden, since it was so deviously filthily clever.  Hee!  

Anyway, I am glad that I read The Decameron - it was much better than I’d anticipated, and it is a foundational document in literature.  Not a page turner, perhaps, but a reasonably interesting read.

Recommended for: People who like to read historically significant books; people who think the priesthood is riddled with perversion; people who like mildly dirty stories

Date/Place Completed: 8/16/07; D.C.

Categories:  Fiction; Commuting Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017