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Courtesy Lost

Courtesy Lost: Dante, Boccaccio, and the Literature of History

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Courtesy Lost
    Book Description:

    InCourtesy Lost, Kristina M. Olson analyses the literary impact of the social, political, and economic transformations of the fourteenth century through an exploration of Dante's literary and political influence on Boccaccio.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6718-1
    Subjects: History, 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-viii)
  4. Note on Editions and Translations
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction. “Fateci dipignere la Cortesia”: Historicizing cortesia
    (pp. 3-28)

    When Guiglielmo Borsiere exhorts Ermino Grimaldi (Ermizio Avarizia), inDecameron1.8, to havecortesiadepicted on the walls of the Genoese merchant’s luxurious abode (“Fateci dipignere la Cortesia”), he poses a mimetic challenge that speaks explicitly and implicitly to the questions of influence and interpretation to which this book responds. What didcortesialook like to Dante and Boccaccio – and specifically to Boccaccio writing under the influence of Dante’s poem, as, for instance, he gives new narrative life to a Dantean character such as Guiglielmo Borsiere?¹Cortesia, as Borsiere notes, is more deeply appreciated once it has been noticed...

  6. 1 Boccaccio’s History of cortesia: The Incivility and Greed of the Elite
    (pp. 29-55)

    The standard bearers ofcortesiaamong the well-established thirteenth-century Italian elite did not follow the ethic concept of cortesia as a code of conduct, such as in the spirit of Ciceronianurbanitasand the study and cultivation ofcurialitasin the French and Germancuriaeand cathedral schools.¹ Instead, northern and central Italian elite families largely espoused a life of factionalism and warfare, a form ofcortesiathat more resembled a version of chivalry based on feudal power and violence than a social ethos meant to promote civic harmony. This version ofcortesiabegan to be cultivated in the era...

  7. 2 Boccaccio’s Politics of cortesia: Narrating the Elite and the gente nuova
    (pp. 56-98)

    Dante’s indictment of thegente nuova, as readers of theCommediaare well aware, does not only appear inInferno16. In a canto analogous for its nostalgia for a golden age of Florence,Paradiso16, the poet’s ancestor Cacciaguida identifies the mixture of different populations as the cause of Florence’s ills (“la confusion delle persone/principio fu del mal della cittade,” 67–8). If only, he cries, the Church had not been a stepmother to Caesar (“Cesare noverca,” 59), then Montemurlo would still belong to the counts Guidi and not been sold to Florence (64);¹ the Cerchi would still dwell...

  8. 3 The Ethical (and Dantean) Framework of the Decameron: The Avarice of Clerics and Merchants
    (pp. 99-138)

    Boccaccio’s inclination to script the civic events of Florentine history around the turn of the thirteenth century as the battle of avarice, as embodied by Vieri de’ Cerchi, andcortesia, as personified by Corso Donati, does not limit itself to this particular interfamilial conflict – nor does it limit itself to the histories of the Florentine elite. His ethical figuration of social and political vicissitudes extends to other, often non-Florentine, protagonists that appear in the biography of Dante’s exile. This historical interpretation bears the influence of theCommedia’s anti-clerical strain and its pro-imperial stance, an influence that theDecameronand...

  9. 4 Constructing a Future for cortesia in the Past: Virility, Nobility, and the History of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines
    (pp. 139-184)

    The conflict between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines would mark most of Florentine history for the thirteenth century, beginning with the Buondelmonti murder of 1216, as Dante (Inf. 28.106–8;Par. 16.66), Compagni (1.2), and Villani (1.7.38) recount.¹ The Ghibelline party in Florence would variously gain and lose power over the course of several decades during that century. Its varying fortunes spanned the rise to power of Frederick II, who assumed the title ofpodestàfrom 1238 to 1246; the exile of the Guelphs by the Ghibelline party in 1248; the death of Frederick II in 1250; the exile of...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 185-220)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 221-236)
  12. Index
    (pp. 237-248)