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The Decameron

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  32,845 ratings  ·  1,273 reviews
The Decameron (c.1351) is an entertaining series of one hundred stories written in the wake of the Black Death. The stories are told in a country villa outside the city of Florence by ten young noble men and women who are seeking to escape the ravages of the plague. Boccaccio's skill as a dramatist is masterfully displayed in these vivid portraits of people from all statio ...more
Paperback, 909 pages
Published March 27th 2003 by Penguin Books (first published 1351)
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See Min Lim The complete book has at least 100 tales, 10 from each of the ten days. There is also a chapter on how these young people, 7 women and 3 men, ended up…moreThe complete book has at least 100 tales, 10 from each of the ten days. There is also a chapter on how these young people, 7 women and 3 men, ended up in their situation. There is also a short blurb at the start and end of each day as an introduction and conclusion to the day, mostly about what they did at other times.

Depending on your edition, you will most likely also have some essays (introductions by scholars) and some notes or footnotes.

It is very likely you have an abridgement, since many of the translations had initially published an adridged version, before publishing the complete.(less)

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Ahmad Sharabiani
Il Decamerone = The Decameron, Giovanni Boccacccio

The Decameron 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.

Boccaccio probably conceived of The Decameron after the epidemic of 1348, and completed it by 1353.

The various
Mar 15, 2020 marked it as to-read
I guess this might be a good time to finally finish reading this? (I started this book twice in the past, in 2010 and 2014 but never managed to finish.)
After a couple of years, two attempts and two different editions, I have finally finished this book. The first great literary accomplishment of 2016.
All I can say is that the history of humanity lies on every page of this book. Virtues and defects that have illuminated and darkened human existence were eloquently expressed by Boccaccio's brilliant pen that concocted, with mastery and otherworldly wit, one hundred tales told by seven young ladies and three young men who, to contextualize this fin
Renato Magalhães Rocha
In the 14th century in Europe, during the devastating times of the Black Death, a group of young Florentines - seven women and three men - decide to flee to seek shelter and escape from the plague in a villa outside of the city of Florence. This is the basic frame used by Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio to tell us one hundred tales of life, love and fortune with The Decameron.

After leaving the city, in order to pass the time, an idea of telling stories is brought up and each one of the young g
The Decameron is a set of one hundred stories told to each other by a group of ten people, seven women and three men, over ten days. All these stories exist within one story which is about this group of people who come together in Florence during an outbreak of the plague and how they react to it - which is by going off into the surrounding countryside and recreating a kind of temporary Eden outside the ravages of the times. Beyond that there are the author's intentions and his defence of his wo ...more
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, aere-perennius
“Nothing is so indecent that it cannot be said to another person if the proper words are used to convey it.”
― Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron


Like The Canterbury Tales, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights, etc., "The Decameron" is an early masterpiece of literature. It is one of those books I avoided because I thought it would be stilted and boring. Hells NASTY Bells was I wrong. Boccaccio is funny, flippant, irreverent,
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing

I'm utterly flabbergasted by how good this is. Forty years before The Canterbury Tales took England by storm, a little tiny place called Italy was having a full-blown RENAISSANCE. So why the hell have I been avoiding all these fantastic pieces of art, anyway? Because they're in Italian? For SHAME.

Fortunately, this translation is fantastic... and you know what? It really holds up. It has everything a public who wants to be entertained could ever desire. A hundred short stories framed by
Dec 20, 2019 rated it liked it
My plan for 2020 is to explore the history of the novel by returning to its origins, beginning with Rabelais and Cervantes. And so I decided to close this year with The Decameron as a sort of introduction to the project, in order to be able to better recognise the stylistic innovations introduced by those later writings. I don't think I would have read it otherwise.

In all honesty, The Decameron offers very little to a modern reader. It is very much of its time, filled with witty references to lo
E. G.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Preface to the Second Edition
Translator's Introduction
Select Bibliography

--The Decameron

Index to Stories
Index to Translator's Introduction and Notes
MJ Nicholls
Permit me to offer another roar of support for reading (The) Decameron. A divine mathematical structure (ten parts of ten chapters with ten characters told over ten days) props up this rollicking ride of classic storytelling. A modern translation (this ed from J.G. Nichols) renders the original in all its libidinous, virtuous mischief, making each page a rapturous pleasure to turn. This book needs no further endorsement from me. Make arrangements to read (The) Decameron before your fatal heart a ...more
Roy Lotz
… nothing is so indecent that it cannot be said to another person if the proper words are used to convey it…

I did not think that a collection of tales from the late Middle Ages would be so raunchy and ribald. While artisans were busy erecting gothic cathedrals—symbols of humanity’s insignificance before an omnipotent deity—Boccaccio was busy writing this most human of books. Indeed, the Decameron can be seen as the humanistic reply to Dante’s Divine Comedy: a celebration of our very worldlin
The Decameron is obviously a hugely influential piece of literature (actually, it's just plain huge), so it's no wonder I'd get around to it eventually. I'm not a huge fan of Chaucer, really, but I did recognise a couple of the source texts he used in this, and I imagine that the choice of frame narrative for the Canterbury Tales might've been suggested to Chaucer by The Decameron. Certainly The Decameron was an influence, anyway.

The Decameron also inspired a song by one of my favourite singers,
Aug 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, erotica
My encounter with this book has been a delightful surprise. Expecting a dry and difficult medieval text, I was shocked to find myself unable to put it down. This is a completely rich text that is complex, yet easy and fun to read. Boccaccio has such a fun sense of humor! I found myself laughing aloud. For me, the dirty stories stole the show, but the other stories by no means fall short. His characters and stories are so richly human and he is able to laugh at them, embrace their flaws, forgive ...more
In Florence, in 1350, Giovanni Boccaccio writes the Decameron, a collection of 100 stories told ostensibly by a group of noblemen and women hiding in the countryside from the Black Plague, the effects of which are described at the beginning of the Decameron in one of the world’s most horrifying pieces of journalism. The stories themselves are generally bawdy and funny, and in fact this was made into a porno in 1970, and here are some butts to prove it:


It was influenced in part by the brilli
David Lentz
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
This great book is set in a country estate outside Florence during a plague. The meaning of the setting was not lost upon me: with death beckoning from all corners, one is wise to enjoy life and pass the hours sharing experience among those about whom one cares. These comic and tragic tales are told in rotation among a group of wealthy people killing time within a garden, a little island of civilization, a little Eden -- paradise. The vast majority of these 100 tales involve amusing stories abou ...more
The Decameron, a collection of 100 short (to short-ish) stories told by ten young Florentine men and women during the plague over ten days is a fun if often frustrating bit of fiction. The stories range from the dazzling, creative and surprising to the more rote and uninspired. First the good: there are all kinds of crazy shenanigans going on in throughout the course of the collection, and it’s quite a bit of fun to read stories written almost 700 years ago that ends with wife swapping, threesom ...more
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Who would have thought a book from the Dark Ages would be relevant in today's world?

This book is mainly about some people leaving their homeland to find some solidarity elsewhere while the Black Death is spreading throughout Europe. They then tell several different types of tales set up as a frame story. Some of the stories are entertaining and others are slow. Basically this is the Italian Canterbury Tales.

Why read this now? Well the opening part with Boccaccio describing the plague is way to s
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1348 Giovanni Boccaccio wrote this book about upper-middle-class Florentine youth who literally "headed for the hills" in order to escape the Black Death and amused each other by telling tales in a semi-competitive fashion. The results are a classic of World Literature that no one should miss: gripping, funny and moving. Peter Bondanella's translation is solid, modern, and a joy to read. Highest recommendation.
Czarny Pies
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes dirty jokes
So many people have read this book and so many great authors have borrowed from it, that a GoodReads critic really has no choice but to give it 5 stars.

My favourite day, is the one dedicated to the theme and I quote: "When they are twenty, they need it plenty." Although, to be honest the book never at any point strays very far from the gutter which explains its perennial appeal.

The problem with the Decameron is that people are terrified by the length. They think of the time required to read all
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We need tales to survive in this world. To escape the Black Death a group of seven young women and three young men flee to a secluded villa outside Florence. And for two weeks they tell stories - a noble and reasonable way to pass the hard times.
Now, The Human Comedy by Balzac comes to mind. In his multi-volume collection, the great novelist was depicting French society of the time. In Boccaccio’s Decameron I find a similar representation of “human comedies”, in a nutshell.
The whole collection i
I hate to say I abandoned or DNF'd this but I just couldn't read any more. I'm happy to have to read the book til day 7 and story 2. The stories were often repetitive and despite the fact that each day offers a different theme, some of the stories easily overlapped and I got to the point where I have no idea what characters feature in which story or which story is even told by which person.

I did try to leave days in between the days and then the stories themselves but overall I am still not in t
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Giovanni Boccaccio's "Decameron" is a huge monument to Italy and to Italians - mercilessly, hilariously portrayed as they really are; when it comes to vices and virtues very little has changed in my country in the last seven centuries, you know. It's a great human mosaic. It's like getting lost in the crowd of a street market, in a kaleidoscope of colours and smells and noises and people pushing, screaming, laughing, sweating... mind your bag, by the way - Boccaccio's heroes never miss the chanc ...more
Being stuck on a couch for a day-and-a-half helps finish off books that have been taking too long to read on a regular basis. It was good to polish off Boccaccio.

So the plot is pretty easy to understand. It's 14th century Florence, and there's this pesky plague thing (aka, the Black Death) hanging around cramping everyone's style. A handful of folks go off to some safe distance and amuse themselves by telling each other stories - 10 stories a day for 10 days. Cool, right?


The problem is th
Sidharth Vardhan
So the title means a ten day event. Ten people telling ten stories in ten days - one each for ten days; now that is kind of maths I love. A king or Queen, chosen from themselves, decides a theme each day. We are the stories we tell - and the characters of story tellers are developed by the stories they tell.

I guess one of the reasons why this book is such an amazing classic is because it captures so successfully the after taste of death. Literature seems to grow successful if it can capture the
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
So I finally found a fifty cent copy of the Penguin Decameron trans'd by McWilliam and here a new trans pops onto the horizon ; this one by Wayne A. Rebhorn from Norton. Following is a review from the new yorker.

"An instructive companion volume to Rebhorn’s Decameron is the recent The Fabliaux: A New Verse Translation, translated by Nathaniel E. Dubin, and described by R. Howard Bloch, in the introduction, as the first substantial collection of fabliaux, i
Douglas Wilson
May 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Three stars because the quality of the stories was all over the place. Some rated much higher, others lower. The stories were, in turn, bawdy, folksy, funny, and shrewd. But one of the things that struck me was how lightly adultery was treated in the 14th century. The natural man was alive and kicking, with a thin whitewash of Christian sentiment to make it seem okay.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it
One important thing to note about The Decameron is its emphasis on the folksy and a lack of metaphysical import. I read it in succession to The Romance of the Rose, which constructs a grand, cosmic, and ultimately farcical account of courtly love. The Decameron presents the other side, which is a commonplace, secular, additionally farcical account of love more aligned with the troubadour tradition and Heloise’s mantra of “love freely given”. People fuck because it’s fun and they like it. They ar ...more
Steve Tannuzzo
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I spent the better part of the summer mostly in quarantine, just like the 10 characters in Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron, a book written in the mid-1300s about a group of young people self-quarantined in a villa hoping to avoid the Black Death. Sound familiar?

The Black Death wiped out as many as 200 million people over four years in the 14th century and this provides the framework of the book, which includes 100 stories broken into daily themes (10 stories a day for 10 days told by 10 people —
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Had I read this on my own, I probably would have assigned it four stars. But fortunately I read The Decameron for a class taught by a medievalist who really knows how to put this bawdy book into context with Dante and Petrarch, Chaucer, and the Renaissance writers who borrowed from or reacted so strongly to this fascinating and ambiguous work. Is it a satire? Is it allegorical? Is it a playful game? You could read it many times over and not be sure. But you will glean insights into the daily liv ...more
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Il salotto dei le...: Il Decameron 180 57 Jul 05, 2020 04:01AM  
Divine Comedy + D...: Group Lounge for Decameron 38 46 Jun 08, 2020 06:41AM  
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Goodreads România: Citește cu mine: Decameronul lui Giovanni Boccaccio 11 76 Mar 22, 2020 11:48AM  
Divine Comedy + D...: Translations: The Decameron 48 505 Mar 19, 2020 09:52AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Missing Edition 8 19 May 02, 2015 08:55AM  
Divine Comedy + D...: 10/13-10/19: Tenth Day, Stories 6-10 & Conclusion, & Author's Epilogue 19 39 Oct 17, 2014 08:09PM  

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Giovanni Boccaccio (1313 – 21 December 1375) was an Italian author and poet, a friend and correspondent of Petrarch, and an important Renaissance humanist in his own right and author of a number of notable works including the Decameron, On Famous Women, and his poetry in the Italian vernacular. Boccaccio is particularly notable for his dialogue, of which it has been said that it surpasses in veris ...more

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