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Boccaccio's Naked Muse

Boccaccio's Naked Muse: Eros, Culture, and the Mythopoeic Imagination

Tobias Foster Gittes
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  • Book Info
    Boccaccio's Naked Muse
    Book Description:

    Venturing outside the Decameron to the Latin works, and outside the usual textual and intertextual readings of Boccaccio to more broadly cultural and anthropological material,Boccaccio's Naked Museoffers fresh insights on this hugely significant literary figure.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8746-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. A Note on the Translations and Editions
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-23)

    In a remarkable passage of hisDe casibusanimated by the same proud and tameless spirit fated to resurge four centuries later among the Romantic poets, Boccaccio argues that ‘by God’s gift we contain a soul with a fiery power, celestial origin, and insatiable desire for glory’ which, ‘when it is noble and not weakened by bodily sloth, can neither be enclosed nor kept in the small prison of the breast; it bounds forth and with its greatness embraces the whole earth and easily transcends the stars, and driven by the flame, burns with sublime desires’ (De casibusIII 13,...

  6. chapter 1 Universal Myths of Origin: Boccaccio and the Golden Age Motif
    (pp. 24-76)

    In his fifthEclogue, ‘Silva cadens’ [The Falling Forest], Boccaccio invokes the classical motif of a degenerative sequence of ages to describe the political and moral decadence of Naples. Here, we are introduced to Robert, the Angevin king of Naples, under the allegorical mask of Tytirus, a primal lawmaker whose wise and enlightened reign nurtures the flowering of the first of these ages, the Golden Age:

    ... it’s Tytirus

    who first sang laws salubrious to the sheep

    and woods; the copious learning of those laws

    was nowhere more illustrious, nor did

    the primal centuries make better ones

    while yet the...

  7. chapter 2 Local Myths of Origin: The Birth of the City and the Self
    (pp. 77-140)

    That the parables of physical or cultural rebirth prominent in so many of Boccaccio’s youthful works unfold against the exquisite natural scenery of the Fiesolan mountains is no coincidence. Indeed, this area, though peripheral with respect to fourteenth-century Florence, is one that had by long-standing tradition been identified as the geographic womb of Florence itself, instrumental not only in contributing to its physical population but also in shaping its cultural, intellectual, and genetic identity.¹

    According to Giovanni Villani’s authoritative account in theCronica, Fiesole’s primacy is not defined in relation to Florence alone; it is the first city in all...

  8. chapter 3 The Myth of a New Beginning: Boccaccio’s Palingenetic Paradise
    (pp. 141-209)

    That the notion of re-creation is central to Boccaccio’s plan is evident from the title of his work,Decameron, one, as critics have long noted, that appears to parody ‘hexameron,’ the title traditionally used by patristic authors for treatises concerned with the six days of God’s creation of the cosmos.¹ If ‘hexameron’ alludes to the original creationex nihilo, ‘Decameron’ quite clearly refers to a re-creation necessitated, within the historical frame of the work, by a plague so virulent and widespread that it cannot help but recall the classical and biblical episodes of a punitive purging of all but a...

  9. chapter 4 The Myth of Historical Foresight: Babel and Beyond
    (pp. 210-242)

    In the tenthnovellaofIl trecentonovelle, Franco Sacchetti relates the story of Messer Dolcibene’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land. When one of his travelling companions draws his attention to the Valley of Josephat, noting that it is there that we must all congregate come Judgment Day, the buffoonish Dolcibene, ever the pragmatist, cannot help expressing some concern: ‘O come potrà tutta l’umana generazione stare in sí piccola valle?’ [Oh how will the whole human race fit in such a small valley?]. One of his companions, Messer Galeotto, responds: ‘Serà per potenza divina’ [It will be by divine power].¹ Dolcibene,...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 243-328)
  11. Works Consulted
    (pp. 329-346)
  12. Index
    (pp. 347-369)