Chapter

The Wheel of the <i>Decameron</i>

Teodolinda Barolini

in Dante and the Origins of Italian Literary Culture

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780823227037
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241019 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823227037.003.0012
The Wheel of the Decameron

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The introduction to the First Day is the catalyst of the rest of the Decameron in that it defines the text's negative pole, the level of loss from which the brigata must recover. The reduction of Florentine society to grade zero is accomplished rhetorically through the introduction's portrayal of two discrete stages of loss which together bring about total collapse; the narrator concentrates first on the loss of ingegno and secondly on the loss of compassione. Crudele, the word contrasted with compassione throughout the plague description, signifies for Boccaccio a destructive autonomy, an inhuman desire to preserve the act of all costs.

Keywords: Florentine society; Decameron; Boccaccio; plague; compassion; loss

Chapter.  8856 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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