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The English Boccaccio

The English Boccaccio: A History in Books

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 496
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  • Book Info
    The English Boccaccio
    Book Description:

    Drawing on the disciplines of book history, translation studies, comparative literature, and visual studies, the author focuses on the book as an object, examining how specific copies of manuscripts and printed books were presented to an English readership by a variety of translators.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6423-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Note on Translation and Transcription
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-18)

    The classic aphorism thathabent sua fata libelli, that books have their own destinies, informs and exemplifies the aims of this book.¹ To this, we might add that authors, too, have their fates, and an author such as Boccaccio, at once both scholarly and accessible, capable of treating subjects that range from Danteʹs theology to knockabout sexual farce, has had a more varied afterlife than most. We know that every reader, every reading community, every linguistic community, creates their own personalized versions of authors, texts, and interpretations, and that these versions are made sometimes self-consciously, but more often not. The...

  7. 1 ʺHere begynneth the book callyd J. Bochasʺ: The De casibus virorum illustrium between Italy and England
    (pp. 19-94)

    In the new reading room of the John Rylands Library, high above Manchesterʹs Deansgate, is a book. It is a large book, rather longer than it is wide (approximately 43 cm by 32 cm), and some 7 cm thick from cover to cover. Closed, it is an imposing object, monumental in size and self-consciously substantial in its imposing blue morocco and gilt nineteenth-century binding, the thick vellum leaves barely suppressed by the heavy boards. Open at its first page, it is a kaleidoscope of colour, script, and floriated detail in the margins, an object once unknowably strange in the context...

  8. 2 The De mulieribus claris in English Translation, 1440–1550
    (pp. 95-156)

    This chapter will focus on the second of Boccaccioʹs works to be translated into English, theDe mulieribus claris(Concerning famous women), and the two English versions of it made in the mid-fifteenth century and in the early 1540s. It will examine the production contexts and material features of these two English manuscripts, in order to consider the ways in which this second Latin text of Boccaccioʹs was remade for two specific (and very different) English readerships in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Whereas Lydgateʹs version of theDe casibuswas very widely known, and survives in multiple copies, both...

  9. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  10. 3 Boccaccio in Print in the Sixteenth Century
    (pp. 157-212)

    The sixteenth century is a crucial and dynamic moment in Boccaccioʹs English reception history, a time in which the widest range of his works was available in translation to a variety of anglophone audiences until the twentieth century. Unlike the fifteenth century, in which only two Latin biographical compendiums acquired English renderings, those works of Boccaccio that can be found in sixteenth-century literary culture are taken from the whole spectrum of his Latin and Italian production, and from all genres. The wide-ranging aspect of his source texts is replicated – and arguably amplified – in the variety of textual productions...

  11. 4 ʺOne Hundred Ingenious Novelsʺ: Refashioning the Decameron, 1620–1930
    (pp. 213-284)

    This chapter concentrates on the textual history of theDecameronin English in its ʺcompleteʺ form from the first English translation of 1620 up to the year 1930, a moment that marks perhaps its widest print divulgation (with at least sixteen separate editions printed) and the year of two new landmark translations. TheDecameronhas the longest continuous presence in English translation of any of Boccaccioʹs works, and, as a result of this, has become the text with which Boccaccio is most closely associated in anglophone culture. The first English translation of theDecameronwas published in 1620, and new...

  12. 5 The Minor Works in the Nineteenth Century: Dante and Chaucer
    (pp. 285-329)

    The last two chapters of this book are dedicated to the reception history of Boccaccioʹs minor works in the nineteenth century and the first thirty years of the twentieth. This little-studied period of his reception is in fact a time of extraordinary translation activity relative to earlier centuries, when many of the minor works are recovered, translated into English, and printed for the first time. There is therefore much continuity with the preceding chapters, and a deliberate chronological overlap with the latter part of theDecameronhistory, in particular. This chapter will take as its subject those translations of Boccaccioʹs...

  13. 6 The Early Twentieth-Century Recovery of the Minor Works
    (pp. 330-396)

    This final chapter will consider those translations of Boccaccio published in the first three decades of the twentieth century. This period of Boccaccioʹs reception is characterized by a certain concretization of the trends that emerged in the late nineteenth century regarding his English reception: the development of a professional ʺacademicʺ cadre of translators and editors (with an associated academic readership); a continuing fascination with the popular ʺromanceʺ Boccaccio, which first grows out of the widespread anglophone cult of Dante and is then amplified by the clandestine printers of erotica in New York in the 1920s; and the desire to re-historicize...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 397-402)

    A study such as this one – of thelongue duréeof a single author’s reception in translation – poses many challenges.¹ The historical timescale is forbidding, the range of competencies required to work not only with the text but with the material and visual aspects of the object is daunting, and the decision to roam so widely outside oneʹs disciplinary comfort zone into different languages, time periods, and specialisms is not always a comfortable one. Most problematic is the sheer amount of primary material, and the decisions that have had to be made about how to manage it: with...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 403-442)
  16. Index of Boccaccioʹs Works
    (pp. 443-446)
  17. General Index
    (pp. 447-464)