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The Decameron Third Day in Perspective

The Decameron Third Day in Perspective

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 280
  • Book Info
    The Decameron Third Day in Perspective
    Book Description:

    The second of the University of Toronto Press's interpretive guides to Boccaccio'sDecameron, this collection forms part of an ambitious project to examine the entireDecameron, Day by Day.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-1643-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    The third day of theDecameronmarks a new beginning in the structure of the book. The second day ends on a Thursday night. The storytelling resumes on Sunday under the reign of Neifile, after the observances of Friday and the baths of Saturday, which constitute a two-day break leading to the relocation to a new estate. This change of set-up has been interpreted as a necessary shift to re-establish the foundations of thebrigata’s new society. The new estate, with itshortus conclusus, lush garden, warbling birds, clear fountain, and Edenic surroundings, represents the ideal location for this new...

  5. The Tale of Masetto da Lamporecchio (III. 1)
    (pp. 9-21)

    The novella of Masetto da Lamporecchio has not garnered widespread critical attention, despite the strategic position it occupies in the book (it is, after all, the first novella of the third day), its clear connections with the first novella of the first day (Ser Ciappelletto) and the first novella of the second day (Martellino and St Arrigo), and its subject matter dealing with the role of erotic instinct and female sexuality in Christian society, applied in this particular instance to the category of nuns. With certain noteworthy exceptions to be discussed below, the secondary literature has largely dealt with this...

  6. The Tale of the King and the Groom (III.2)
    (pp. 22-43)

    One of the most attentive and exceptional readers of the tale of King Agilulf and his groom was Alberto Moravia, who, as a writer himself, focused his attention on Boccaccio’s need to write and tell stories.¹ He claims that “what Boccaccio needed was action pure and simple” (Man as an End, 137). Moravia goes into III.2 in length, as he considers this tale to be “one of the best in theDecameronand one in which the passion for action seems to attain the highest level of articulation and depth” (151).

    It is precisely in the action that we find...

  7. The Tale of the Gentlewoman, the Gallant Man, and the Friar (III.3)
    (pp. 44-67)

    Boccaccio stages the humorous obsolescence and inadequacy of three wool trade utensils at the very end of Filomena’s retelling of a trick by a young wife, the third tale of the third day of storytelling by thebrigata. The plot is well known: a lusty lady tricks a friar, who becomes the unwilling instrument of an illicit extramarital affair. After the woman has put her confessor in the position to procure just what he believes he is preventing, her triumph over the gullible friar is complete. She celebrates by exchanging giggles about the holy man’s stupidity as well as rude...

  8. The Tale of Fra Puccio (III.4)
    (pp. 68-89)

    The fourth tale of the third day of theDecamerontells the story of Puccio di Rinieri, a good and old, but not so brilliant man of Florence, who becomes a pious tertiary of the order of St Francis, thus becoming hence-forth known as Fra Puccio. Overcome by a fervent sense of religion and obsessed with the idea of salvation and achieving Paradise, Puccio loses interest in his much younger wife, Monna Isabetta. Dom Felice, a young priest just arrived from Paris, seizes the opportunity to spend time alone with the neglected wife by teaching the poor old man how...

  9. The Tale of Zima (III.5)
    (pp. 90-107)

    The fifth novella of the third day strikes even a first-time reader for its simplicity and clarity. A linear and straightforward Introduction preparing the terrain for the protagonist’s action and a felicitous Conclusion featuring the attainment of his much-desired goal flank a long speech by the protagonist, which constitutes the bulk of the plot. The storyline can be reduced to the main character’s oration in the central part of the novella.¹

    Zima loves Francesco Vergellesi’s wife. Francesco needs a palfrey before he leaves Pistoia and sets out on a trip to fulfil his newly appointed role aspodestàof Milan,...

  10. The Tale of Ricciardo and Catella (III.6)
    (pp. 108-130)

    If “reason is one of the key words in theDecameron,” as Janet Levarie Smarr has it (Boccaccio and Fiammetta, 165), lack of reason equally asserts its presence in the one hundred novellas, where the tension between reason and desire – but not as mutually exclusive entities – constitutes the very dynamic of theDecameron. This tension already lies at the heart of the courtly love tradition, from Arthurian legend to the troubadours, from Tristan and Isolde, Lancelot and Guinevere to Dante’s Paolo and Francesca.¹ In approaching the “Centonovelle” we cannot fail to recognize the importance of these canonical courtly love protagonists,...

  11. The Tale of Tedaldo degli Elisei (III.7)
    (pp. 131-149)

    The tragic opening of theDecameronon the devastated urban landscape of a plague-ridden Florence illustrates the crisis of communal institutions, of their moral and religious codes, and of the belief that there existed knowledge capable of understanding and controlling natural phenomena.¹ The plague in the Introduction to Day One can be seen as the “correlative objective” of the crisis of medieval thought, which was founded on the premise of an ontological continuity between human and divine worlds, truth and appearance.² Panfilo’s conclusion on the impossibility of investigating what is beyond experience in the first novella of theDecameronreveals...

  12. The Tale of Ferondo’s Purgatory (III.8)
    (pp. 150-169)

    Boccaccio invites his readers to interpret theDecameronin a Dantean context from his first statement of the work’s title: “Comincia il libro chiamatoDecameron, cognominato prencipe Galeotto” [Here begins the book calledDecameron, surnamed Galeotto].¹ The meaning of Boccaccio’s appropriation of the name of Lancelot and Guinevere’s go-between, Galeotto, which is used by Francesca inInfernoV to characterize the pandering role played by the Arthurian romance and its author in her relationship with Paolo, has been debated by critics (is it a proclamation of intent or a warning?), but its very existence indicates the special nature of Boccaccio’s...

  13. The Tale of Giletta di Narbona (III.9)
    (pp. 170-217)

    With its abbreviated yet intensely complicated plot line that combines folklore topoi, medical theory, sketchy characters, and an elusive narratological pattern connecting it to several other tales in theDecameron, the reception of Boccaccio’s novella of Giletta di Narbona,DecameronIII.9, has been chequered at best.¹ Historically, it has not received as much attention from critics as many other tales; editors conventionally omit it from anthologies; modern critics most often list III.9 amid a row of numbers telling us what the narrative contains in common with several other stories. On the other hand, the tale has, ironically, enjoyed a greater...

  14. The Tale of Alibech (III.10)
    (pp. 218-234)

    Boccaccio’s most notorious novella was virtually ignored by critics until 1929, when D.H. Lawrence publishedPornography and Obscenity. In this essay Lawrence offers reasons why people respond negatively to erotic literature. According to Lawrence, obscene words have two meanings, an “individual meaning” (the meaning an individual assigns to a word according to his or her own sincere feelings) and a “mob meaning” (the meaning given to the word by public opinion). The latter is the one which inevitably becomes law, because individuals rarely ask if their reaction is individual, or is merely a reaction of their “mob self.” According to...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 235-258)
  16. Index
    (pp. 259-268)