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The Decameron (Penguin Classics) [Mass Market Paperback]

Giovanni Boccaccio , George Henry McWilliam
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Jun 1995 Penguin Classics
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 - a hundred stories of love, adventure and surprising twists of fortune which later inspired Chaucer, Keats and Shakespeare. While Dante is a stern moralist, Boccaccio has little time for chastity, pokes fun at crafty, hypocritical clerics and celebrates the power of passion to overcome obstacles and social divisions. Like the Divine Comedy, the Decameron is a towering monument of medieval pre-Renaissance literature, and incorporates certain important elements that are not at once apparent to today's readers. In a new introduction to this revised edition, which also includes additional explanatory notes, maps, bibliography and indexes, Professor McWilliam shows us Boccaccio for what he is - one of the world's greatest masters of vivid and exciting prose fiction.


Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 1072 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (29 Jun 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014044629X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140446296
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 13 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,134,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Boccaccio (1313-1375) was an Italian writer of both verse and prose. He wrote The Decameron over a period of ten years, and is also the author of Teseide and Filostrato.

G H McWilliam was the first Professor of Italian at Leicester University.He has also translated Verga's Cavalleria Rusticana for Penguin Classics

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
Ser Cepperello deceives a holy friar with a false confession, then he dies; and although in life he was a most wicked man, in death he is reputed to be a Saint, and is called Saint Ciappelletto. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This translation of the Decameron is the best I know of currently available. It's ideal not only for students but also for general readers, since Boccaccio is incredibly accessible and enjoyable to read. If you don't know the bawdy tales, it's worth the price of entry just for those. Sheer pleasure to dip into or read straight through.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant translation! 3 Oct 2009
By L. Reid
Format:Paperback
The length of this work may seem daunting to some but it is a fantastic book to dip in and out of without it losing any of its integrity or humour. Despite being written in the 14th century, it is full of innuendo and blasphemy and bound to keep any of it's readers entertained for a long time. The notes at the front and back of the Penguin edition are invaluable and I would fully recommend this book to anyone who is considering buying it.
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb edition 4 Oct 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A reader from Durham has complained here about the shoddy modern editing, but unfortunately it is unclear which edition (Oxford or Penguin) this refers to. So it should be pointed out that the Penguin edition is amazing - the culmination of a lifetime's work on 'The Decameron' by McWilliam. The footnotes are informative and drily witty, there are maps, a comprehensive index and an introducation that amounts to a book within a book, surely one of the most extensive introductions of any Penguin Classic. All in all a beautiful edition that reads well and is consistently entertaining.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the foundations of world literature 24 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am fluent in Italian so I could have also read this in its original language. The English version is absolutely impressive and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in Italian classics. One might easily be tempted into regarding this as fourteenth century pornography but this perhaps just goes on to prove that plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose! We've always been the same I suppose.

One must remember that, in all probability, the style of recording stories by different characters was what gave the idea to Geoffrey Chaucer to write The Canterbury Tales - just to show the extensive influence that medieval Italian literature had on other literatures
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By Edelbee
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Beware!! The Amazon advert states that this is the GH McWilliam translation and refers to him as also being the commentator of the book. This is not his translation nor is there any commentary in this e-book.

There is no indication here as to whose translation this is. I suspect that it a very old, possibly genuinely Jacobean translation. It is very likely available in the form of a public domain free download.

If you want the real deal plus the commentary go for the Penguin edition. It is far more expensive than this one but is worth the extra outlay in cash.

Do not be misled! Amazon - your advert is sloppy and factually incorrect. Correct it now!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of Love are Timeless 23 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron is a true classic which should be read by so many more. It contains 100 short stories, told by a group of ten who has escaped the great plague in the 14th century. Many of the stories are on the topic of love and/or sexual relations, and are told with a great sense of humor. The topic of love is somewhat timeless and even if concepts of "true love", "perfect love" etc are changing throughout our social and cultural history, stories on the topic of love always seems to fascinate us.

Boccaccio cannot be said to be preoccupied with morality or religion, but instead is more concerned with earthly values, and the book of Decameron is described as a "towering monument of European literature and a masterpiece of imaginative narrative" by the publishers of this edition - and it truly is a masterpiece! This freedom from some of the heaviest institutions can also be a reason to why so many can find pleasure in reading him still today, hence the earthly concerns of human have not changed too much since the late middle ages, believe me or not!

The tradition of short stories in this form can be said to start with Boccaccio and he has been followed by many writers. Marguerite de Navarre, queen of Navarre and sister to king Francis I, writes her Heptaméron (1558) as a French version of the Decameron and in the prologue she praises Boccaccio saying that he is admired among the royal family in France. Boccaccio was translated early into several European language and he is still read and regarded today as one of the most important writers in the history of European literature.
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