The Decameron of Boccaccio, Giovanni Boccaccio, illustrations Leopold Flameng (The Bibliophilist Society, nd [c. 1920? New York?])
9 5/8″ X 6 3/4″, 307pp, hardbound black cloth no DJ, top edge dyed blue, fore edge deckle, good condition, spine marked “IIID” binding solid, bumped corners
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.