The Decameron

“A collection of 100 tales by the Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-75), completed in c.1353. Many of the tales were old at this time, and many later writers–including Chaucer and Shakespeare–borrowed stories from the collection. In the framework story, seven ladies and three gentlemen escape from Florence when the Black Death arrives in 1348, and spend their time each telling one tale per day for ten days (Decameron comes from the Greek deka, ‘ten’, and hemera, ‘day’). (There is comparable framework story in The Canterbury Tales.) A film version (1971) by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-75) concentrates on some of the earthier tales. A similar collection to Boccaccio’s entitled The Heptameron (1558) was ascribed to Margaret of Angouleme (1492-1549), queen of Navarre. The tales are said to have been related in seven days (Greek hepta, ‘seven’).”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

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