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The Decameron (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

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

27 Mar 2003 Penguin Classics

A seminal work of European literature that has inspired writers from Chaucer to Shakespeare, the Penguin Classics edition of Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron is translated with an introduction by G.H. McWilliam.

In the summer of 1348, as the Black Death ravages their city, ten young Florentines take refuge in the countryside. Taken from the Greek, meaning 'ten-day event', Boccaccio's Decameron sees his characters amuse themselves by each telling a story a day, for the ten days of their confinement - a hundred stories of love and adventure, life and death, and surprising twists of fate. Less preoccupied with abstract concepts of morality or religion than earthly values, the tales range from the bawdy Peronella, hiding her lover in a tub, to Ser Cepperallo, who, despite his unholy effrontery, becomes a Saint. The result is a towering monument of European literature and a masterpiece of imaginative narrative.

This is the second edition of G.H. McWilliam's acclaimed translation of the Decameron. In his introduction McWilliam illuminates the worlds of Boccaccio and of his storytellers, showing Boccaccio as a master of vivid and exciting prose fiction.

Boccaccio (1313-75) 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.

If you enjoyed The Decameron, you might like Dante's Inferno, also available in Penguin Classics.

'McWilliam's finest work, his translation of Boccaccio's Decameron remains one of the most successful and lauded books in the series'

The Times


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The Decameron (Penguin Classics) + Vita Nuova: (Poems of Youth) (Penguin Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 1072 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (27 Mar 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449302
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449303
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 4.5 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,801 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


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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
17 of 17 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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15 of 15 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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52 of 55 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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10 of 11 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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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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unmatched book 27 Dec 2010
By koipen
Format:Paperback
After reading it and enjoying it the whole time, I must say that Decameron is a book that will entertain you: the tone is light and the stories are all entertaining. It is a book you can easily dip in and out without losing much. Considering the nature of the book, the main characters are all developed well.

The penguin edition is brilliant: it comes with comprehensive notes and heavy introduction.

Fully recommended.
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