The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio, Giovanni Boccaccio, trans. John Payne, illust. Louis Chalon (Lawrence and Bullen, London, 1893, #32/1000 hand numbered, first edition thus)
11.25″ X 7.5″, 325pp 383pp, hardcover, half red morocco over red pebbled boards, gilt titles and decorations on spine, five raised bands, laid paper, top-edge gilt, marbled end papers, 15 full-page B&W Illustrations with tissue guards, good condition for age, some bumping to corners and slight wear, front endpapers on vol. 2 becoming detached but holding, a rare leather-bound copy of an low numbered limited edition.
This is a beautifully leather-bound, nicely illustrated late nineteenth century edition of The Decameron from Lawrence and Bullen.
The Decameron, (subtitled Prencipe Galeotto or Prince Galehaut), is a collection of novellas by the 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375). The book is structured as a frame story containing 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three young men sheltering in a secluded villa just outside Florence to escape the Black Death, which was afflicting the city. To make their exile more pleasant each of the ten tells the others one story every day. The Decameron records the narratives of ten days — 100 stories. Boccaccio probably conceived of The Decameron after the epidemic of 1348, and completed it by 1353. These tales run the entire range of human emotion: grief, love, humor, anger, revenge. Many are based on oral folklore. Boccaccio’s ten narrators thus retell already familiar stories about errant priests, rascally husbands, and mischievous wives. Variants of these stories are known in many cultures, but no one formulates them more cleverly or relates them more eloquently than does Boccaccio. In addition to its literary value and widespread influence, it provides a document of life at the time. Written in the vernacular of the Florentine language, it is considered a masterpiece of classical early Italian prose.
Arthur Henry Bullen, often known as A. H. Bullen, (1857-1920) was an English editor and publisher, and a specialist in 16th and 17th century literature. His father George Bullen was librarian at the British Museum. A. H. Bullen’s interest in Elizabethan dramatists and poets started at the City of London School, before he went to Worcester College, Oxford to study classics. His publishing career began with a scholarly edition of the Works of John Day in 1881 and continued with series of English Dramatists and a seven-volume set of Old English Plays, some of which he had discovered in manuscript and published for the first time. Bullen wrote more than 150 articles for the Dictionary of National Biography, lectured on Elizabethan dramatists at Oxford University and taught at Toynbee Hall. In 1891 he and H. W. Lawrence went into partnership as the publishers Lawrence & Bullen. This lasted until 1900 when Bullen moved on to publish as A. H. Bullen. With Frank Sidgwick as partner, he then formed the Shakespeare Head Press for which he is most known.