Clark's Reviews > The Decameron

The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
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's review
Jul 07, 07

really liked it
Read in March, 2007

The Decameron is something that I had wanted to read since 10th grade when I first heard about it. The concept is simple: 7 young ladies and 3 young men decide to get away from the plague for a few weeks by heading to the countryside. Once they arrive, it is decided that they will each tell one story per night for the ten days they are there. So it is a collection of 100 short stories.

However, I never realized how raunchy and hilarious the stories would be. These stories are crazy clever and several of them would be a little bit questionable if they were published for the first time today, let alone in 1353 when they were first published. Obviously, not all of the stories stick with you after reading a hundred, but there are a few that really made an impression and there is a diatribe by one of the storytellers in which one of the most enlightened arguments for free speech I've ever read is presented. I'm shocked by how ahead of its time this book was.

It does suffer from its length a bit, though. Each day is devoted to a particular theme and the stories have a tendency to get repetitive within those confines. Additionally, it is a little too easy to take a break from a long set of short stories and find that a substantial period of time has passed. There isn't much to drive you forward because you aren't working towards a conclusion of some sort and 800 pages is a lot of pages. Nevertheless, it is worth committing to this monster for a month or two or three because it really is just a fantastic triumph of writing.
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