Bawdy and moving, hilarious and reflective: these stories offer the very best of Boccaccio’s Decameron—the inspiration for the new film The Little Hours—in a brilliant, playful new translation
In the early summer of the year 1348, as a terrible plague ravages the city, ten charming young Florentines take refuge in country villas to tell each other stories—one hundred stories of love, adventure, and surprising twists of fortune that later inspired Chaucer, Keats, and Shakespeare. Now, this hugely enjoyable volume collects the best stories of Boccaccio’s masterwork in a fresh, accessible new translation by Peter Hainsworth. It includes such celebrated, thought-provoking tales as “Isabella and the Pot of Basil” (famously adapted by Keats) and “Patient Griselda” alongside many boisterous and daring stories featuring faithless wives, philandering priests, and curious nuns. Written in an early Florentine dialect and influencing scores of literature that followed, The Decameron is a masterpiece of classical Italian prose.
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“The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375), made a great impression on me. . . . Ten youths—seven women and three men—take turns telling stories for 10 days. At around the age of 16, I found it reassuring that Boccaccio, in conceiving his narrators, had made most of them women. Here was a great writer, the father of the modern story, presenting seven great female narrators. There was something to hope for. . . . The seven female narrators of the Decameron should never again need to rely on the great Giovanni Boccaccio to express themselves. . . . The female story, told with increasing skill, increasingly widespread and unapologetic, is what must now assume power.” —Elena Ferrante, The New York Times