The Next Best Book Club discussion

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Other Novels To Discuss > The Decameron by Boccaccio

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message 1: by Alex (new)

Alex Hey, Jessica and El, I finally finished Civilization and have moved on to Boccaccio. Man, that took forever.

I have two lists of Must-Read stories from the Decameron, one from the translator (Musa) and one from Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literature's 50 Greatest Hits. I think I'm going to skip around a bit, at least right now, because I'm also committed to reading f'ing Anna Karenina as soon as my wife finishes her current book, so that's...not short.

So far I've read the intro, Day 1 stories 1 - 3 and Day Two, 1 & 2. They're a ton of fun, really; very easy to read, funny, sometimes weird. Diggin' it.


message 2: by Alex (new)

Alex Oh - and of course if you're not Jessica or El but you saw this and thought hey, I've been planning on reading the Decameron for ages...the more the merrier. This is your chance!

Here are the story recommendations for the first few days, in case you're interested:

Introduction

DAY ONE
Musa: 1 - 3
Murnighan: 1, 5 (this is the writer of Beowulf on the Beach)

DAY TWO
Musa: 4 - 7, 10
Murnighan: 1 - 6, 7, 10

DAY THREE
Musa: 1, 2, 9, 10
Murnighan: 1 - 4, 6, 10

DAY FOUR
Musa: Prologue, 1, 2, 5, 9
Murnighan: 1, 5

DAY FIVE
Musa: 1, 4, 8 - 10
Murnighan: 4, 9, 10

I'm inclined to trust Musa over Murnighan; Murnighan is a little bit of a twat.


message 3: by El (new)

El Sweet, I'm ready. I'll probably skip the Murnighan right now, but only because I have a few other books I'm reading currently and I'm not sure my little brain can handle it at the moment.


message 4: by Alex (new)

Alex Oh yeah, I'm not suggesting anyone read Beowulf on the Beach. That's just a collection of short essays about a number of classic books, from Homer to Dickens, where he tries to kinda get across what's exciting about each one and why you shouldn't be afraid of them. Not exactly necessary for someone like you who wasn't afraid in the first place. I picked it up 'cause I thought it would be fun to see what he liked about stuff I've already read. And it was a little fun, although, again, Murnighan's a bit of a twat. While I can understand a bit of hyperbole - after all, we are talking about most of the greatest books ever written - it still gets a little tiresome to hear him foaming at the mouth about how TOTALLY AWESOME everything is.

I just figured I'd share his list of his favorite stories in the Decameron, so we'd have some more input in case we want to jump around. For now, I'm taking both peoples' suggestions; on Day 2, for instance, the only two stories neither guy likes are 8 & 9, so okay, I'll skip 'em for now.

I suspect a good way to handle the Decameron is to read a story or two as little breaks from whatever else you're reading. Honestly, this feels like light reading, which is a compliment; you can just rattle one off before bed.

What I'd really like to do is get you two and seven others, go rent a villa in the Italian countryside, have each of us pick a character and tell their story each night for ten nights. Sound good? Maybe we could start a plague in Italy for added atmosphere.


message 5: by JSou (new)

JSou I'll take care of the villa, but I'll leave the handling of the plague to you.

I haven't even had a chance to pick this up yet, but I'll get a story or two in tonight.


message 6: by Alex (new)

Alex Just finished a story (II 7) where a woman is kidnapped and raped by eight different guys in succession. It's played for laughs. Glad Boccaccio's not, y'know, misogynist or anything.


message 7: by El (new)

El I work in a hospital. If it's all good with the both of you, I'll bring some virus with me.

I started reading the book, but haven't gotten past Boccaccio's Prelude yet. I'm sort of enjoying taking my time with this though. You know, to let his misogyny really sink in and get me all good and angry right before bed.


message 8: by JSou (new)

JSou Sweet! El's got the plague covered.


message 9: by Alex (new)

Alex Perfect. Yeah, that should work out nicely.

Great! Jessica's got the villa, El's got the plague, and I'll bring...uh, dominoes.

I'm interested in what y'all think of II 7. I wasn't offended by it, maybe because it was written so long ago, maybe because the protagonist was sorta matter-of-factly portrayed as someone whose attitude was pretty much "Oh noes, you killed my husband and now you're going to rape me! This is awful! Oh, actually, you're hot. Never mind, have at it." It's so surreal that it's hard to take it seriously.

The intro to my book claimed that Boccaccio was in some ways a sort of feminist, because his female characters are as strong and willful as his male ones, and this is one of the first times we have female characters portrayed as enjoying sex. I see the point, but it's also true that they're handed around like paperbacks pretty often.


message 10: by Andreea (new)

Andreea (andyyy) | 117 comments I think we should see the story from the perspective of the Boccaccio's Introduction. He says:

Who will deny, that it [support or comfort:] should be given, for all that it may be worth, to gentle ladies much rather than to men? Within their soft bosoms, betwixt fear and shame, they harbour secret fires of love, and how much of strength concealment adds to those fires, they know who have proved it. Moreover, restrained by the will, the caprice, the commandment of fathers, mothers, brothers, and husbands, confined most part of their time within the narrow compass of their chambers, they live, so to say, a life of vacant ease, and, yearning and renouncing in the same moment, meditate divers matters which cannot all be cheerful.

[...:]

Wherefore, in some measure to compensate the injustice of Fortune, which to those whose strength is least, as we see it to be in the delicate frames of ladies, has been most niggard of support, I, for the succour and diversion of such of them as love (for others may find sufficient solace in the needle and the spindle and the reel), do intend to recount one hundred Novels or Fables or Parables or Stories, as we may please to call them, which were recounted in ten days by an honourable company of seven ladies and three young men in the time of the late mortal pestilence, as also some canzonets sung by the said ladies for their delectation. In which pleasant novels will be found some passages of love rudely crossed, with other courses of events of which the issues are felicitous, in times as well modern as ancient: from which stories the said ladies, who shall read them, may derive both pleasure from the entertaining matters set forth therein, and also good counsel, in that they may learn what to shun, and likewise what to pursue.


I think Boccaccio is sympathetic to the limitation that women had during his age and in telling a story about a girl who got in trouble for being beautiful that ends happily, he is in a way trying to give hope to all his female readers who have suffered because of the way men and society in general regarded women that their misfortunes can always suddenly end happily.


message 11: by Alex (new)

Alex Good point and good clips, Andreea, thanks. And it's worth noting that II 10 is the story of a woman whose husband doesn't give her enough sex so she runs off with another man, telling her husband,

"If you gave as many holidays to the laborers who work on your estates as you gave to the man who was supposed to work my little field, you would never have harvested a single grain of wheat."


message 12: by Alex (new)

Alex III 6 is another rape; when she finds out that the guy she slept with wasn't her husband, Musa translates her reaction as "annoyed and upset."

But then the rapist "spoke and cajoled and implored her so effectively that she eventually was defeated and made her peace with him; and by mutual consent they lay together again for a long time in great delight." So that worked out fine.

Pretty much everyone here is an irredeemable horndog, and the ones that aren't receive Boccaccio's greatest scorn - so it's a consistent world across genders, which is nice. Women trick men into sex about as often as the other way around.

But if anyone were to take love lessons from this book, it would work out poorly.

In Boccaccio's world, as long as the room is dark it's impossible to tell who you're sleeping with.


message 13: by JSou (new)

JSou So that worked out fine.

Ha! I barely got through the introduction last night. Really, I'll read at least a couple stories later (I mean it this time!)


message 14: by El (new)

El Last night I finished the First Day stories. How's everyone else doing?


message 15: by Alex (new)

Alex I got through Day Five yesterday, which included a story where a gay guy marries a woman (they hadn't invented the term "beard" yet), she cheats on him because she's not getting sex, and when he finds out about it he says he'll forgive her as long as they work something out; then they have a threesome with her lover. I'm reading about half of the stories, going by both my lists.

How'd you like Day One?


message 16: by El (new)

El I swear you must be searching out the particularly dirty stories and reading them all first. There's one in the Day One stories where the abbot sees a monk sneaking a woman into his room and then overhears them doing the nasty. The monk knows he's been caught, so comes up with a plan to pretend like he's going away, but then stays and watches as the abbot allows himself to be seduced by the woman. Now the monk can't be accused of having relations with the woman, 'cause the abbot didn't do any better. They eventually sneak the woman out, but they apparently continue to bring her in occasionally. This killed me.

Other than that, the Day One stories are pretty tame. There's a lot of talk of the Church and religion, and it's all pretty decent.

At the Day One Conclusion Pampinea passes on her "throne" and the next Queen has decided that the Day Two stories will all have the same theme - stories about misfortunes that have happy endings. It's like she's Oprah or something. In any case, the themed stories might be interesting. I noticed in Day One that while they were different stories, they all sort of fed off the one before. Like when people are talking and someone is like, "That reminds me of this one time in band camp..."

I'm digging this Boccaccio guy. I have this thing for Florentine writers I guess.


message 17: by Alex (new)

Alex Yeah, I kinda like the themes.

All the stories are particularly dirty! This book is filth.

But yeah, I'm digging it too. Some of the stories are just sortof pleasant, but some of them are really cool - like IV. 5, the basil story. And it's never boring.

Which translation do you have?


message 18: by El (new)

El I have the Musa tranlsation also, with this cover... in case you were wondering, that is a dog biting a naked woman's tush as she runs away in what appears to be terror.

I wish I could jump around too. Any time I try something like that my brain shuts down and I have symptoms akin to a panic attack.


message 19: by Alex (new)

Alex Ah...yes, that cover will make more sense to you when you get to V. 8.

I know what you mean re. jumping around. I get flashes of guilt when I skip something. And it'll probably never go away; years from now someone'll be all "Have you ever read the Decameron?" and I'll be all "Sortof," and I'll feel like a charlatan.


message 20: by Cait (new)

Cait Poytress (caitertot) | 604 comments Damn it, you guys are making this sound good.


message 21: by Alex (new)

Alex It's all a plot, Cait. You'll start reading it and halfway through you'll come back to this thread all "Dudes, this book sucks!" and we'll be all MUHAHAHAHAHA.


message 22: by El (new)

El Cait, it is good. Come join us on the dark side as we read this filth! The book is huge, but like it's been mentioned above, the stories are so short that you can knock off quite a few and not feel like you're plowing through the behemoth that it is. :)


message 23: by Alex (new)

Alex That's what I meant to say.


message 24: by El (new)

El And here I thought what you meant to say was, "SEX! SEX! BASIL! SEX!" :)


message 25: by Alex (new)

Alex That's what I meant to mean to say.


message 26: by Cait (new)

Cait Poytress (caitertot) | 604 comments Alright, in just the last few posts I've seen the words dark side, sucks, filth, huge, knock off, plowing, behemoth, and SEX! SEX! BASIL! SEX! I'm in.

I just found my copy, which is this translation by G.H. McWilliam (?)
The Decameron. Hopefully it will be adequate.


message 27: by El (new)

El Cool, Cait, I'm looking forward to seeing what you think of it. I'm curious to see how a translation from the Seventies treats the sex scenes.

(And for everyone else who isn't reading the book but is reading this thread, really... the book isn't all about sex. Um.)


message 28: by Alex (new)

Alex Awesome Cait! This'll be fun. Yeah, I'm curious to hear how McWilliams' translation goes. I imagine it'll be fine.

(El: well, it's mostly about sex.)


message 29: by Carol (new)

Carol So who is suppose to sing and dance. . Cait I have the McWilliams translation also. It was easy to read. Some phraseology was a crackup. I felt like I was reading a book written in the 80's or 90's. Naughty book without the dirty words. hahahahahaha


message 30: by Alex (last edited May 15, 2010 01:53PM) (new)

Alex Musa's translation isn't any more explicit; while it's abundantly clear what's going on, he doesn't use dirty words.

I finished Day VII this past week. I dug 2 (woman hides lover in barrel; hijinks ensue), loved 5 (jealous man disguises self as priest; wife pretends not to recognize him; hijinks ensue), snickered at 9 (cheating wife invents magical pear tree that causes her to look like she's having sex with some guy, but she totally wasn't, it was just the magical pear tree), hated 10 (some bollocks about banging godmothers or something).

If anyone's paying any attention to those lists I posted of the "best" of the stories, I'm happy to do the same for days VI - X. But I have the impression that I'm the only one too wussy to just read all of them.

Carol, you just got nominated for the singing and the dancing. I hope you know how to do a headspin.


message 31: by Carol (new)

Carol Yeah the pear tree was priceless. I liked the jokers who are constantly beleaguering Calandrino and his wife Tessa


message 32: by Alex (last edited May 28, 2010 06:22AM) (new)

Alex Calandrino was apparently an actual contemporary Renaissance painter who was known as a dumb-ass.

I just read Day 8 story 7, which was absolutely brutal. There've been several stories - like Calandrino's - where people are cruel to others, and it's played for laughs, and you sorta get used to it: okay, Boccaccio's world is a mean one. This story starts the same way, with a cruel act played for laughs, and then he suddenly pulls the rug out: the injured party commits a brutal, drawn-out act of revenge and all traces of good humor abruptly disappear. It was pretty rough. I wished I hadn't read it right before bed.

Man, this book is weird.

I think I'm gonna focus on this until I finish it; the end's in sight, and I want to see how it goes.


message 33: by El (new)

El I was thinking about this book on my morning walk and wondering why our discussion of it hasn't really taken off (besides the fact that I think only a couple of us are reading it, and apparently very slowly, like me). And it occurred to me that there's really very little to discuss. Most of our talk so far has been about the sex, of course, because we're a bunch of 14-year-olds obviously. There's some talk too about how neat certain stories are, but that's about all that can be said for it. There's not much to debate here - the stories are all relatively simple, and while there may be a moral or an allusion to something thrown in, it's all just... obvious? I guess that's what I'm going for.

Something I have found interesting so far is that the storytellers all seem to get along pretty well. Sure, there's this pesky plague thing going on back home and their entire families and support groups are probably being wiped out in disgusting and painful ways, but these kids are just chill doing what they're doing off in safety. I've been around the same group of people for days on end, away from home, and honestly it sort of sucks after a while. People get annoyed with each other, even the most optimistic and pleasant people. These guys have no alone time that the reader is aware of, so I sort of feel for them.

Additionally, you would think there would be some bantering going on amongst the storytellers, even playful bantering. Like the medieval version of, "Dude, your story sort of sucked." You can't tell me there wouldn't be stuff like that back in the day. And considering Boccaccio is pretty interested in sex, you would think there's probably some sex going on amongst the storytellers. Not that I need sex in my books to make it interesting - I guess I'm just surprised that there's not much more interaction between these people. It really is just a collection of stories.

So I'm just finishing up Day 4. (Did I mention how slowly I'm reading this?) The basil story was pretty neat, Alex, but I'm partial to the sage story myself (IV, 7). When I get home I'll finish up Day 4 (I think I just have stories 9 and 10 to go still) and see where Day 5 takes me.

Here's my question: What was Boccaccio's intention for writing this book? If it's just a collection of themed stories, what point was he trying to make? Was he trying to make a point at all? Was he just a dirty ol' man who wanted to throw in as much debauchery as possible? Or was he making a statement about his society?

Thoughts, anyone?

And Alex, you said the end was in sight - did you finish?


message 34: by Alex (last edited Jun 10, 2010 08:46AM) (new)

Alex Book's still at that friend's house I left it at. Yergh.

I've been thinking about this question all day (so thanks, good question) and here's what I came up with: I've read a bunch of non-fiction books recently that at least touch on Italy in the 14th century, and I keep thinking, "Yeah, I understand this from Boccaccio." Corruption in the church, the role of women, the lives of the nobles and the common people... I get a better sense of these things from the Decameron than from the history books. So if his goal was to describe what life was like in his time, from every imaginable point of view, he has nailed it.

And imagine if that got written now! 100 stories that describe America at this exact time from every perspective. I imagine it would have some funny and weird stories, and some stuff like "Precious" too, and whatever. And we'd think it was remarkable, wouldn't we?

And that got me thinking more about all those stories about violence and rape: as we've talked about they're often played as sorta funny and I haven't been sure how to deal with that, but it's true that Boccaccio's exposing the darker things that were happening in his time - along with all the other things. It's an unflinching tour, but it's misted by this irreverent tone that throws you off balance.

I know Boccaccio himself wasn't crazy about the Decameron, but I think it's pretty dope.


message 35: by El (new)

El Extra brownie points to Alex for the Pulp video. Classic!

I'm okay with it being a book of stories, it's just that I expected something more from it. I'm not disappointed, per se, but it does make it hard to sit and read in large clumps. It's fine as a bedtime story book, for me at least. But when I try to sit down on the weekends and read for longer periods of time, I find my mind drifting and wondering what my buddy Dickens is up to in Our Mutual Friend. But let's be fair here, I'm not much of a short-story reader to begin with. I much prefer big meaty stories with a bunch of characters and different plot lines, and while I at least knew the Decameron wouldn't be like that, I can't get past the idea that I actually hoped for more. It's not Boccaccio's fault - I have myself to blame. And maybe Dante.

But the other thing about this is... a lot of Boccaccio's stories aren't even original. He's taken stories he knew about and sort of changed some details and made them modern to his day and all. But take a look at Wiki and scroll down past all those people who were inspired by the Decameron; there are a few paragraphs about Boccaccio borrowing his stories as well. Sure, that happens a lot (Chaucer did it too), so I don't have beef with it necessarily. But it's interesting to me anyway, particularly since we're having this discussion about his descriptions of his day and age and all. He modernized the stories he had probably heard elsewhere, but then which details are fully his and which ones were those from a traveling bard?

Anyway, just throwing ideas out there for the sake of discussion. I'm still plowing away at this, and questions come up. For some reason I had better luck with Chaucer - funny considering he was likely inspired in part by Boccaccio when he wrote the Canterbury Tales.


message 36: by Alex (new)

Alex Sure, and Shakespeare ripped off most of his plots too. That doesn't bother me. Part of what Boccaccio was doing was synthesizing the myths of his culture and focusing them through his weird, horny lens, right? Does it matter which parts belong to whom?

I do agree that you can't read this in large chunks. A few here and there. And I'm generally more of a Big Ass Novel fan too, which is one reason why it took me ages to get around to Boccaccio. But having read (most of) it now, I do think it comes together as more than the sum of its parts.


message 37: by El (new)

El It totally matters (to me) if it's Boccaccio that was that darn sex-obsessed (calling Chris Hansen here) or if that came from some dude off the street who was just singing for his supper. And it matters not at all, other than I'm totally interested now in his personal life.

Do you - or anyone else, for that matter - know of any good Boccaccio bios?


message 38: by Alex (new)

Alex It's gotta be Boccaccio, right? It's too consistent.

I don't know any bios. I poked around a bit but didn't find any.

But I found this passage in a random bio for Boccaccio:

"Boccaccio found the germs of his novelle in other literatures, in historic events, and in tradition, but, like Shakespeare, whatever he borrowed he made his own and living, by placing the adventures in the lives of his contemporaries. The indecency which is the greatest blot on the "Decameron", but to which it undoubtedly owes not a little of its celebrity, is no greater than is to be found elsewhere in medieval literature, and is due as much to the time and the circle in which the work was written as to the temperament of the author. He himself in his later years expressed deep repentance for the too free works of his youth; moreover, his jibes and anecdotes at the expense of clerics did not impair his belief in the teachings of the Church. Boccaccio's character was by no means a despicable one. He was a steadfast friend, a son who felt tenderly for his mother and never forgave his father for having abandoned her. He speaks with affection of his daughters who had died in childhood; it is not known who their mother was. He was a scholar of the first rank for his time, a man of independent character, and a good patriot."

No idea who the author is or whether any of it can be trusted. Thought it was an interesting perspective on the smut though.


message 39: by El (new)

El Aww, Smutty had a heart of gold. Whoda thunk it? Nah, even with all the sex in the stories, I don't feel like it's vindictive sex. I never once thought, "Wow, little Giovanni must have had some sexual abuse when he was a kid". It's standard to the time, but that's why I wonder if it's standard to him in his time, or because everyone was sort of doing it and so he wanted to fit in. We've already agreed that his treatment of women is still different than other peeps in his day. He especially seems pretty well educated for his time. Thanks for the link. People are getting these details from someplace, right? There's gotta be a bio out there somewhere. That or everything we know about Boccaccio is just made up. Maybe I have to go to Florence to find it. Oh, shucks.


message 40: by Alex (new)

Alex Got my book back and I can happily report that, finally, Boccaccio has gotten around to necrophilia (X 4). Whew, right? I know, I should never have doubted him.


message 41: by El (new)

El Wow, thanks for giving me something to... look forward to? I'm glad you copy of the book back. Did you get to play with your friend's dog in the process?


message 42: by Alex (new)

Alex Oh yes I did. She and I, we got a little thing goin' on.

Also got to be privy to this conversation:
"Is this your boyfriend?"
"No, just my friend."
"Is he gay?"
"Married, so close enough."

Only two more stories, so I should finally finish this tonight!


message 43: by Alex (new)

Alex Which I did; X.9 is cool 'cause it's about Saladin who's awesome; X.10 I was really kindof horrified by and wished he hadn't decided to end on that note, but the point is the Author's Conclusion is really interesting; El, I think you might actually appreciate reading it ahead of time. It's not like it has spoilers in it. I kinda wished I'd read it first.


message 44: by El (new)

El Congrats on finishing! I saw you gave it 5 stars. I'm not sure I agree with that yet, but I'll wait until I finish to tell you you're dumb.

I'll take a peek at the Conclusion, but I really hate jumping around. It's a mental block thing I have, like when I try to do math, but if you think I might benefit from reading it then I'll give it a shot.

That conversation of your friend's is hilarious. I will say that at first I wasn't sure if the "little thing" you got goin' on was meant to be with your friend or her dog, hah.

So what is your plan now that you're done with Boccaccio? Are you going to stick with the medieval writing or move on to something else?


message 45: by Alex (new)

Alex Yeah, I think I liked it better than you have so far.

I knew you wouldn't like the Conclusion idea, based on your also not liking my "skipping a third of the stories" idea, but I do think it gives an interesting perspective. Honestly, it would've made a good introduction. Not that the actual introduction didn't also make a good introduction.

Heh - yeah, with the dog. We are lovers.

I'm gonna keep doing what I have been - frequently interrupting my history tour with things that distract me. Waiting on Edda and that Magna Carta book, only one of which I'll probably read right now.

But I think I'm about done with the Middle Ages, after like eight months of it. (Assuming I don't have the fortitude to go through with Piers Plowman, which I started and dropped almost immediately.) Next would be the Renaissance, and I'm not sure where to start. I need suggestions for that.

More or less simultaneously there's the Plantagenets and the Tudors, and I have this awesome plan to re-read Shakespeare's histories along with a book that analyzes their authenticity (there are two books that do it, between which I'm still deciding).


message 46: by El (new)

El I like John Donne from the Renaissance. Other than that there was just Shakespeare, right? Just kidding.

Well, there's always Don Quixote, which I loved. That's another whopper, though; not sure if you're ready for that again.

I want to read Gargantua and Pantagruel but haven't gotten around to it yet. Again, whopper.

Francis Bacon's probably a good one to try to hit too.


message 47: by Alex (new)

Alex Yeah, Rabelais is on my maybe list too.

I'm actually pretty pumped to get into Don Quixote. I mean, I hear it's pretty okay, y'know? Spenser's Faerie Queene is in there too.

As far as I can tell, nobody wrote anything during the entire 15th century. Other than Morte d'Arthur, which I've already decided to wuss out on since everyone in the world says it's boring.

Bacon's an intriguing idea. I hadn't considered that. Donne will certainly happen. I've read him, but not extensively or recently.

And I'll revisit Marlowe, who's an old and loved friend.

But none of these feel exactly like Renaissance literature. They feel more like...stuff that people wrote while the Renaissance was happening. (I know I'm getting into a whole Controversial Thing here, forgive me.) I guess I'm thinking about Italy specifically; to my knowledge there were no important books written in Italy that reflect the Renaissance, although Dante and Boccaccio sortof, I dunno, presaged it.

And I need some non-fiction too, and there are so many books written about the Renaissance that that's pretty daunting. Maybe I should start by focusing on bios of Michelangelo, Galileo and Da Vinci, who are totally my homeboys.


message 48: by El (new)

El Hm, what about Pepys? Though I guess he was more Restoration period. And certainly not Italian. Oh, hey, what about Petrarch? Definitely the right time and Italian to boot. I think there are collections of his letters floating around out there which I think would be interesting. I dig those primary sources.

Unfortunately I'm now drawing a blank on everything else I've learned during our visits to Florence. Sigh.

As far as 15th century goes, you could always read some stuff about Columbus. Maybe Select Letters of Christopher Columbus, with Other Original Documents, Relating to His Four Voyages to the New World. As for the Tudors, holy crap, where do you even start?


message 49: by Alex (last edited Jun 17, 2010 08:51AM) (new)

Alex I'm skipping the stupid Tudors. I watch the damn Showtime series, which as we know is 100% boobs historically accurate. And I read Wolf Hall. And just in general, I feel like I've given them enough attention.

Susanna suggested a book called Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition, and the Defeat of the Moors, which I like the look of. And it sorta lets me tackle Columbus and the Inquisition in one blow.

Yeah, you're right, Petrarch's totally the right guy, but for some reason I just have this aversion to him. It makes no sense because I know basically nothing about him. Maybe I should get over it.


message 50: by Andreea (last edited Jun 17, 2010 08:47AM) (new)

Andreea (andyyy) | 117 comments Alex wrote: "But none of these feel exactly like Renaissance literature. They feel more like...stuff that people wrote while the Renaissance was happening. (I know I'm getting into a whole Controversial Thing here, forgive me.) I guess I'm thinking about Italy specifically; to my knowledge there were no important books written in Italy that reflect the Renaissance, although Dante and Boccaccio sortof, I dunno, presaged it.
Except, of course, Machiavelli's The Price.
Petrarch is really awesome too, though. I don't know how much you enjoy love poetry, but Il Canzoniere is lovely. While you're at it, you could also read a collection of Michelangelo's poems. Also, if you're interested in philosophy, you could read Pico della Mirandola's discourse "Oration on the Dignity of Man". Despite its briefness it's a good introduction to Renaissance thought via an Italian Renaissance writer.


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