The Most Pleasant and Delectable Questions of Love, by Giovanni Boccaccio, illus. by Alexander King (Illustrated Editions Company, New York, 1931)
6.5″x9.5″, 133pp, red and black boards, binding good, some yellowing to pages. “The translation of 1566 [the fourth part of Filocolo] by H. G. Put into modern English with an introduction by Thomas Bell.”
This book is 13 chapters of one of Boccaccio’s longer works, “Il libro di Difinizioni“, first translated into English by “H.G.” (probably Henry Grantham) in London, 1566. In these chapters, a group of young people have gone to the country for the day. One of the young women is chosen “The Queen of Love.” Each young person tells a love story and poses a question about love. The group answers; there is no right or wrong. But the final arbiter, “The Queen of Love,” holds the answers.
Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) was an Italian author and poet, a friend, student, and correspondent of Petrarch, an important Renaissance humanist and the author of a number of notable works including the Decameron, On Famous Women, and his poetry in the Italian vernacular. Boccaccio is particularly notable for his dialogue, of which it has been said that it surpasses in verisimilitude that of virtually all of his contemporaries, since they were medieval writers and often followed formulaic models for character and plot.
Alexander King (1899–1965), born Alexander Koenig in Vienna, was a bestselling humorist, memoirist and media personality of the early television era, based in the United States. In his late fifties, after becoming a frequent guest on the a Tonight Show hosted by Jack Paar, King emerged as an incongruous presence in the realm of national celebrity: an aging, irascible raconteur, with elegant mannerisms and trademark bow-tie, who spoke frankly and disarmingly about his bohemian lifestyle, multiple marriages, and years-long struggle with drug addiction. His checkered past led TIME magazine to describe him as “an ex-illustrator, ex-cartoonist, ex-adman, ex-editor, ex-playwright, ex-dope addict. For a quarter-century he was an ex-painter, and by his own bizarre account qualifies as an ex-midwife. He is also an ex-husband to three wives and an ex-Viennese of sufficient age (60) to remember muttonchopped Emperor Franz Joseph. When doctors told him a few years ago that he might soon be an ex-patient (two strokes, serious kidney disease, peptic ulcer, high blood pressure), he sat down to tell gay stories of the life of all these earlier Kings.”