Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Decameron: Selected Tales” as Want to Read:
The Decameron: Selected Tales
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Decameron: Selected Tales

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  693 ratings  ·  57 reviews
While the Black Death rages through fourteenth-century Florence, a group of young people retreat to the healthful air of the countryside and amuse themselves by telling tales of romance and adventure. This is the premise of Boccaccio's Decameron, a landmark of early Renaissance literature and one of the world's great story collections. 
Vast in scope, teeming with colorful
Paperback, thrift, 192 pages
Published April 20th 2011 by Dover Publications (first published 1353)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Decameron, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Decameron

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  693 ratings  ·  57 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Decameron: Selected Tales
This is an excerpt from The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, in which a series of ten tales are told each day for ten days. As I understand it, this excerpt chooses one tale for each of the ten days.

These are incredibly readable, and cleverly constructed little stories. The blurb on the back sums it up well - Bawdy, outrageous, sometimes tragic or wise, these stories offer a tremendously entertaining view of society, religion and, above all, human nature.

This is definitely one of the better Pen
Patrick Peterson
2020-09-05 - I have read 15-25 of the stories. The edition I bought only has about 30 of the top (rated) stories, out of the 100 total in the orig. book.

I found the stories mostly really interesting, fun, educational, and humorous.
But also sad, since there was so much deviousness going on in many/most. I don't like that aspect in life. And some of the morals did not seem right.

I would compare this book a bit to Aesop's Fables, only usually much bawdier. Quite a bit of sex in this. Amazing, consi
Robert Tostevin
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blogged
The complete Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, set in 1348, consists of 100 stories told by 10 people to each other over an imaginary 10 day period whilst they seek refuge from the plague ravaging Florence. This book takes 32 of those stories for re-telling.

Reading a 14th century classic, originally written in Italian, means that the translator is always going to be key.

I found Peter Hainsworth's translation on the whole very readable. Being so old you can expect the writing styles of 650 years
Erik Graff
May 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Renaissance literature fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
Madison Street west of Chicago's Loop was a run-down area when I was a kid, but it had some good used bookstores. I'd been travelling by bus and train to the Loop since junior high, often with friends to see a movie at one of the big theatres, but increasingly as I aged to go to the bookstores. It was in one of them, a cavernous place, that I picked this title up, having heard of Boccaccio in reference to Chaucer.

Being a poor kid and having only the money I could earn from doing extraordinary wo
Rex Libris
The Decameron was supposed to quite ribald in its day, and I suppose it was. by today's standards it is quite tame, and only suggestive of events, not explicit.

A group of 10 young people flee Florence because of the Plague. To entertain themselves in their exile each they each tell a story on that day's given topic, and each gets to pick a topic. Hence the title Decameron because of the 10 stories of 10 days.

As mentioned supra, the stories can be quite ribald, as they often deal with spouses ch
Slavena Georgieva
Hm, this is a book from my school list and this is the first time I express opinion about a book from different century :D.

The edition I read was in my language (Bulgarian) and it contains selected tails from the whole enormous book, so the story unfolds in 10 days and in the original edition there are I think 101 tales about the world in 14th century. It was quiet fun to read some of them but I was astonished about the violence then. There were staggering stories about women who were raped and
May 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This is a great read along the lines of Canterberry tales but be warned some of the stories are very naughty
A group of nobles take up residence in a country villa outside of Florence to escape the black death and keep themselves entertained by telling stories. Ten a day for ten days. They take turns settings the theme. This cycle of 100 stories has was influential to Chaucer and Shakespeare, and some of the stories have provided the plots to theatre, opera, novels, and film.

The tales give us a picture of 14th century European life—presumably from an aristocratic perspective—its attitudes toward wealth
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a crazy bunch of stories. These are tales from the 14th century translated from Italian. I read it on a long canoe trip in northern Quebec. Different members of our paddling group read different stories each night around the fire. The version we had was all the so-called "amorous" tales from this collection - 23 in all. Very weird and very funny (most of them) although somewhat formulaic. Lots of nuns, abbesses, deacons, and young, strikingly beautiful rich virginal daughters. It's supposed ...more
Aug 28, 2019 rated it liked it
part of my 'read the classics' summer. the decameron is considered to be the first 'popular' novel, ie, written in the language of the people. it's interesting - a wealthy group of men and women escape to their country estates in the hope of avoiding the black death. they pass the time by taking turns telling stories. frankly, i got bored after a while... ...more
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, adventure
It's an impressive feat: a series of tales that vary in tone, subject matter, and stance presented through an effective frame narrative about the Black Death. I remember really enjoying this when I read it (or some of it anyway) in college 20-some years ago. ...more
Crystal Hunter
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Funny, slightly bawdy, worth the read.
Joseph Peters
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: funny-shit
The fact that these stories hold up as well as they do really astonished me when I first read them.
May 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy reading by a modern Giovanni, when he was not a sexist man.
I have, as of the time of this review, only read one story from The Decameron, that being Federigo's Falcon. I'll read the rest sometime.
Federigo's Falcon is a wonderful example of situational irony that will bring to mind O. Henry's Gift of the Magi. The Decameron was written by an Italian near-contemporary of Chaucer and it follows a similar structure to Canterbury Tales: a group of people (in this case, fleeing from a plague) tell each other stories to pass the time.
I've heard that there ar
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With 100 stories, not all are going to please everyone, and the author knows it. He himself makes his apologia in the conclusion, explaining how "No field was ever so well cultivated that it contained no nettles, briars and thorns mingled with better plants." Some of the tales are incredibly bawdy, and Boccaccio seems sheepish about having included them; others are anticlerical, but he seems to revel in his achievement there.
The 1930 translation by Richard Aldington (d.1962) is brisk. Far more
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Ten young people living in 15th century Florence during plague time take refuge in a country villa. They plan out their days carefully; over two weeks, they will each tell one story Monday through Friday.(This will amount to 100 tales, hence the title.) Saturday they will be at liberty and Sunday will be devoted to worship. Joan Acocella wrote a wonderful article for the New Yorker about this book. Many of the stories are shamelessly ribald, but if you are seeing bodies stacked up in the streets ...more
Elizabeth Reid
Nov 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Wow, so I didn't realize that books written in the 1300s spoke of such (what is considered) contemporary subjects! Easy to read, selection of short stories. I learned that: you should never trust strangers who claim to be relations, if a father kills a woman's lover she will probably commit suicide because of her intense grief, and I am so glad I never married a nobleman--those guys are trouble! ...more
This was just a bunch of short stories, mostly about cheating and nuns/priests having sex. I did not like the last story, the husband was emotionally abusing Griselda.

This is why I have just a hard time with older classics. I keep having to remind myself that I may not like the things that happen, but this is how it was back then.
Jul 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a Pocketbook edition published in 1947. It is based on a translation made in 1741. I think because of the idiosyncrasies of the translation and resulting syntax, this was very slow reading. I enjoyed the stories, as I knew I would, and I very much like the art deco-style illustrations by Mac Harshberger, a well known illustrator of the era.
Had to read a few selections for my Great Books class. Not as bad as I expected it to be (come on, this came right after The Song of Roland, and I was starting to give up on the class!). I wouldn't mind coming back to read more of this. ...more
Jun 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: school-books
I read only 3 of the stories, for a college class. They were Day 1, Story 3; Day 2, Story 1; and Day 3, Story 1. I liked the stories well enough and found them humorous, which was the point after all.
Mar 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
just read the first few stories and intro.

I learned that sex and satire are really old and always entertaining
Sep 26, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
(my edition is from 1948, edited by Herbert Alexander, and stinks of my uncle's cigarettes-- but I'm trying to get through it!) ...more
Patricia Draper
This is a classic known to many people but probably not read. Stores date from 13th Century and are surprisingly fresh and modern. Most editions retain archaic English which adds to the interest.
Brian Wilson
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wildly entertaining stories, very funny, will have to get the full book. Continually astounded by the wit and intelligence of Medieval writing.
Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great insight into the young minds of 14th century Italy. I understand why Shakespeare was so influenced by this!
Portia Andrew
These are fascinating tales from the years of early Renaissance Italy and the time of Black Death. Perhaps Chaucer took the form of this work for his own Canterbury Tales.
An Valenteyn
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun bed- and bathtime reading for a while.
Great to realize it was written so long ago.
After a while though, it gets a bit repetitive ...
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, european
A great taste of the Decameron, which has made me want to try the full thing.

It's like an Italian Canterbury Tales, with less farting and more infidelity.
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Subtitle? And fix publication date. 3 17 Jul 19, 2019 07:46PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • L'intérieur de la nuit
  • Os Cus de Judas
  • The Princesse de Clèves
  • The Raven and Other Poems
  • The Nun
  • Sentimental Education
  • W, or the Memory of Childhood
  • One Piece, Volume 49: Nightmare Luffy
  • Hackeado
  • The Romance of Tristan and Iseult
  • The Canterville Ghost and Other Stories
  • The Most Precious of Cargoes
  • Ellis Island
  • Lettres portugaises (Libretti)
  • How Many Miles to Babylon?
  • The Betrothed
  • Girl
See similar books…
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

News & Interviews

Care to travel to past times for some serious drama? Check out this season's biggest historical fiction novels and be transported to tales of...
72 likes · 20 comments