Friday, 27 March 2015

The Patron and the Crocus by Virginia Woolf.

Crocuses in Kensington Gardens.
'The Patron and the Crocus' is a particularly funny essay from Virginia Woolf's The Common Reader: First Series (1925) and probably nothing could sum it up better than this quote from the second paragraph:
Thus the writer who has been moved by the sight of the first crocus in Kensington Gardens has, before he sets pen to paper, to choose from a crowd of competitors the particular patron who suits him best. It is futile to say, “Dismiss them all; think only of your crocus”, because writing is a method of communication; and the crocus is an imperfect crocus until it has been shared. The first man or the last may write for himself alone, but he is an exception and an unenviable one at that, and the gulls are welcome to his works if the gulls can read them.
Virginia Woolf by by Lady Ottoline Morrell (1926).
This is Woolf's essay on writing: not how to write, but on the importance of choosing one's patron. She begins,
Young men and women beginning to write are generally given the plausible but utterly impracticable advice to write what they have to write as shortly as possible, as clearly as possible, and without other thought in their minds except to say exactly what is in them. Nobody ever adds on these occasions the one thing needful: “And be sure you choose your patron wisely”, though that is the gist of the whole matter. For a book is always written for somebody to read, and, since the patron is not merely the paymaster, but also in a very subtle and insidious way the instigator and inspirer of what is written, it is of the utmost importance that he should be a desirable man.
Audience, for Woolf, is key if writing and art be about communication. She goes on to consider the chosen patrons or audiences of previous ages:
The Elizabethans, to speak roughly, chose the aristocracy to write for and the playhouse public. The eighteenth-century patron was a combination of coffee-house wit and Grub Street bookseller. In the nineteenth century the great writers wrote for the half-crown magazines and the leisured classes. And looking back and applauding the splendid results of these different alliances, it all seems enviably simple, and plain as a pikestaff compared with our own predicament — for whom should we write? For the present supply of patrons is of unexampled and bewildering variety. There is the daily Press, the weekly Press, the monthly Press; the English public and the American public; the bestseller public and the worst-seller public; the highbrow public and the red-blood public; all now organised self-conscious entities capable through their various mouthpieces of making their needs known and their approval or displeasure felt.
Virginia Woolf's desk by Gisèle Freund (1965)
There are some somewhat harsh thoughts shared on the failure of other writers to ascertain their patrons before writing: on Samuel Butler, George Meredith, and Henry James (all authors I quite like) she wrote:
Each despised the public; each desired a public; each failed to attain a public; and each wreaked his failure upon the public by a succession, gradually increasing in intensity, of angularities, obscurities, and affectations which no writer whose patron was his equal and friend would have thought it necessary to inflict. Their crocuses, in consequence, are tortured plants, beautiful and bright, but with something wry-necked about them, malformed, shrivelled on the one side, overblown on the other. A touch of the sun would have done them a world of good.
She then considers the role of the Press, "undoubtedly a great multiplier of crocuses", other contemporary writers and the impact of their "crocuses" on one's own, and the social mores of the time. Art, she argues, does not live in a vacuum. Simply writing is not enough.

This essay can be read online here, and I do very much recommend it - it is the typical funny, sharp, and informative essay one would expect from Virginia Woolf. Perfect!

And next week for the Deal Me In Challenge: Hedda Gabler by Henrick Ibsen.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Nibelungenlied.

The Nibelungenlied (Das Nibelungenlied), or The Song of the Nibelungs is a medieval epic German poem by an unknown author and composed around 1195 - 1205. I read the prose translation by A. T. Hatto (1965). It was, I found, remarkably difficult and I've been struggling for several days to write something! So I'm going to keep this brief and attempt an outline on the basic plot.

The story can be divided into two parts: Siegfried and Kriemhild, and Kriemhild's revenge. In the first chapter we meet Kriemhild, the sister of King Gunther, who dreams of a falcon killed by two eagles. Her mother Uta interprets this as her, Kriemhild's, future husband being violently murdered, and so Kriemhild resolves to stay unmarried. However Sigfried, the prince of Xanten, arrives to Worms where this part of the tale is set to woo Kriemhild, which is encouraged by King Gunther, who tells her of the various battles Siegfried has won. Gunther, meanwhile, wishes to marry Brünhild of Iceland however in order succeed he must defeat her in battle. This, he feels, is beyond him however Hagen, a vassal of Gunther, believes that Siegfried is capable of winning the battle, and if he does, Kriemhild will be "given" to him. The battle is won by trickery (for a period Brünhild was led to believe that Siegfried was Gunther's vassal), and Kriemhild is to marry Siegfried, and Brünhild to Gunther.

First page of the 1230 manuscript.
Naturally, Brünhild is furious at having been tricked (on more than one occasion, too) and so remains suspicious. When she and Kriemhild later watch Siegfried and Gunther at a tournament they both quarrel - neither of them are fully aware of the bargain the men struck. Previously Siegfried had taken from Brünhild her ring and girdle whilst attempting to "tame" Brünhild before Gunther could sleep with her (the significance of this, according to Hatto, is uncertain), and when Kriemhild and Brünhild continue their argument Kriemhild produces them as evidence that Brünhild slept with Siegfried before her husband Gunter. Though aware of the true facts, Gunther does not wish to appear unmanly at this accusation, and nor is he certain if Siegfried ever boasted that he had slept with Brünhild.

Hatto likens the powerful statement of revealing of the ring and girdle to when a judge places on his head a black cap. Hagen, the true vassal of King Gunther, is obliged to kill Siegfried (in a similar tale, the Scandinavian Thiðrekssaga, or Þiðrekssaga, once the ring has been produced there is no discussion over the truth and facts - murder is the only action to take). Siegfried, however, once soaked in dragon's blood is invulnerable, however Hagen tricks Kriemhild into stitching on to his cloak a patch marking the only place dragon's blood did not touch him. Hagen stages a war in which he stabs Siegfried with his spear, and the treasures Siegfried won before arriving at Worms - a cloak of invisibility and a sword are stolen by Hagen and thrown into the Rhine. Kriemhild vows revenge, which takes place in the second part of the story (I won't spoil it by revealing details!).

The Nibelungenlied is a magical and exciting tale and whilst I may have found it hard to follow it was still nonetheless entertaining. It is partly based upon the battle and defeat of Burgundians by Flavius Aëtius (a Roman general) in the 5th Century A.D., as well as a feud in the 6th Century between Merovingian queens Brunhilda and Fredegunde, and indeed other historical events. And, The Nibelungenlied went on to influence Richard Wagner's opera The Ring of the Nibelung  (Der Ring des Nibelungen, also known as the Ring Cycle; 1876) along with Thidreks saga and the Völsunga saga. Imagery from the tale was also used in Nazi propaganda, but (on a more cheerful note) it also influenced J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-55). The invisibility cloak belonging to J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter was perhaps also inspired either by Wagner or The Nibelungenlied. Finally, this opera of Wagner's was published in 1910 under the title The Rhinegold and The Valkyrie and illustrated by Arthur Rackham:


Also, here is Magda Bánrévy's 1933 painting Nibelungenlied:


And finally, how could I resist - Harry Potter's invisibility cloak:
:

*******
Further Reading
The Nibelungenlied: A summary in English prose by D. L. Ashliman
A.T. Hatto's introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of The Nibelungenlied (1965)
Nibelungenlied | Wikipedia

The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf: The 100 Year Anniversary Read-Along.

"The voyage had begun, and had begun happily with a soft blue sky, and a calm sea. The sense of untapped resources, things to say as yet unsaid, made the hour significant, so that in future years the entire journey perhaps would be represented by this one scene, with the sound of sirens hooting in the river the night before, somehow mixing in."
One hundred years ago today, Virginia Woolf's first novel The Voyage Out was published. It tells the story of Rachel Vinrace, who is travelling to South Africa on her father's ship - the Oxford University Press describes Rachel as launching "on a course of self-discovery in a modern version of the mythical voyage".

Woolf is best known for her novels such as Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), Orlando (1928), and The Waves (1931), but this, The Voyage Out, is the genesis of her literary odyssey and so is worthy of celebration! So I'm hosting this read-along, which will begin today, but when it will end is up to the reader. You may want to read it over the weekend, you may wish to spend a month with it: this is a casual read-along. Myself, I'm hoping to read some over the weekend and finish it over next week. I hope you can join in :)

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Trollope by Victoria Glendinning.

Victoria Glendinning's 1992 biography of Anthony Trollope is one of the biographies on my Classics Club list and I'd been looking forward to it, so when I saw Lisa's post on C. P. Snow's Trollope (in which she recommends Glendinning's Trollope) I was moved to read it. I've also read Glendinning's biographies on Vita Sackville West (Vita - The Life of Vita Sackville West, 1983) and Leonard Woolf (Leonard Woolf: A Biography, 2006, which I must re-read and write about some time soon) and I thoroughly enjoyed those, so I had high hopes for Trollope - and I was not disappointed!

Anthony Trollope, one of my favourite authors, was one of the most prolific writers of the 19th Century, writing 47 novels, many short stories and articles, travelogues, biographies (including biographies on William Makepeace Thackerary and Cicero), and two plays (I've included a list at the end of this post). His fans include two Conservative British Prime Ministers - Harold Macmillan (in office from 1957 to 1963; his favourite was apparently The Last Chronicle of Barset) and John Major (1990 - 1997), who wrote in his autobiography (John Major: The Autobiography, 1999) that Phineas Finn and Phineas Redux (two novels from the Palliser series) "were never far from hand". Furthermore, 50% of Margaret Thatcher's cabinet (1979 - 1990) were members of the Anthony Trollope Society, as were seven High Court Judges of the time. Margaret Thatcher herself was not a member, but wrote,
I certainly agree Anthony Trollope was one of the greatest English novelists... [source]
His novels were also enjoyed by Sir Alec Guinness, John Kenneth Galbraith, and the illustrator Edward Gorey. And don't let the Tories put you off - Thatcher was at least right on one thing (and one thing only, I dare say) - Anthony Trollope truly was one of the greatest English novelists of all time.

Anthony Trollope by Spy (Sir Leslie Ward)
A study for drawing published in Vanity Fair
5 April 1873
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Glendinning's biography is divided into four parts: "Leaps in the Dark", "Into the Light", Midstream", and "Towards the Further Shore", then a conclusion. She begins with his early life (for some reason I'm never keen on biographies that start with the death of the subject): he was born two hundred years ago almost on 24th April 1815 to Thomas Anthony Trollope and Frances Trollope (author of Domestic Manners of the Americans, 1832, and other works), and he had a sister, Cecilia, and three brothers, one of whom was Thomas Adolphus Trollope (author of A Siren, 1870, his memoirs What I Remember, 1887-89, and others). From the age of seven he spent three very miserable years at Harrow (Harrow School in north-west London), then on to Winchester College (Hampshire), then back once more to Harrow (and not that this is at all relevant, but it is the Winchester College song Dulce Domum that is referred to in The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, 1908). The Trollopes were very poor and were at one point relying on an inheritance from Anthony's great uncle, Adolphus Meetkerke, however Meetkerke's new wife Matilda bore a son who became the heir (wills and inheritance are often features of Trollope novels - Lady Anna, 1874, Is He Popenjoy?, 1878, and Cousin Henry, 1879, spring immediately to mind). In 1827 his mother went to America "in an attempt to save the family fortunes" (she left Anthony and Thomas behind) and she returned in 1831 to make some success out of writing. His father however was in rapid financial decline and the family moved to Bruges (Belgium) for a period where Anthony felt he was "an idle, desolate hanger-on, that most hopeless of human beings, a hobbledehoy of nineteen, without any idea of a career, or a profession, or a trade". "Pretty girls" almost made up for it, but it has to be said that young Anthony's childhood was remarkably unhappy.

Pillar Box from Guernsey installed 1852-3.
But Anthony did find a trade: at the age of 26 he moved to Ireland to work as a postal surveyor's clerk and he remained working for the Post Office until 1867, and it is in this period he introduced pillar boxes to the Channel Islands (London would not get them until 1855, and at that time there were only five - in Fleet Street, The Strand, Pall Mall, Picadilly and Rutland Gate). And, whilst working for the Post Office, he wrote some twenty novels including the Chronicles of Barsetshire - The Warden (1855) Barchester Towers (1857) Doctor Thorne (1858) Framley Parsonage (1861) The Small House at Allington (1864), and The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867), as well as the first of the Palliser novels - Can You Forgive Her? (1864-5). His retirement in 1867, at the age of 52, allowed him to stand as a Liberal candidate for Beverley, in the East Riding of Yorkshire (he described the fortnight of campaigning as "the most wretched fortnight of my manhood") however he was unsuccessful, losing to Sir Henry Edwards of the Conservatives. And of course he continued to write - between 1867 and his death in 1882 he wrote a further twenty-seven novels, as well as several non-fiction books.

And so Glendinning writes of Trollope's novels, his many travels (Trollope has been all around England, to Belgium, Ireland, Australia,  and other places), his friends and not so friendly acquaintances (Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Eliot, William Makepeace Thackerary, John Everett Millais, and Wilkie Collins to name a few), and his wife (Rose Heseltine) and sons Henry (born in 1846) and Frederick (born 1847), and his relationship with Kate Field, one of his closest friends. There's a wealth of information in this biography, even Trollope's (damning) opinions on crinoline, and over fifty illustrations and photographs. It's an absolute must for Trollope fans, both to read from cover to cover and to dip into from time to time (since I bought this book I've been looking up the various Trollope novels I've read and I've learned quite a lot from Glendinning). It's also a very lively book, not dull and dreary as some biographies end up, and his personality shines through.

And, it must be said: 2015 is an excellent year to read more Anthony Trollope. Books and Chocolate is holding an Anthony Trollope Bicentennial Celebration in April, and meanwhile books as food is hosting a Chronicles of Barset read-along (they're up to Barchester Towers, which is the second in the series, so plenty of time to catch up). As for other Anthony Trollope novels - here are the forty seven (apologies for some of the quality of the pictures, I was quite limited in choice!):

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio: Introduction and Day One.

A Tale from the Decameron by John William Waterhouse (1916).
The Decameron (Il Decamerone), subtitled Prince Galehaut (Prencipe Galeotto) was written by the Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio in the mid-14th Century. It is a collection of a hundred short stories told by a group of seven women and three men in a villa near Florence, Italy, who are escaping the Black Death. The tales are told over a period of ten days, and the title Decameron comes from the Greek δέκα meaning ten and ἡμέρα meaning day, so δέκα-ἡμέρα would mean a 'ten day event'. 

The Black Death was plague that ravaged Europe, peaking between 1346-53. By the end of 1347 to the early part of 1348 the plague hit Italy, and it is during these times Boccaccio conceived the idea for The Decameron. He begins in his introduction by referring to the plague:
Whenever, fairest ladies, I pause to consider how compassionate you all are by nature, I invariably become aware that the present work will seem to you to possess and irksome and ponderous opening. For it carries at its head the painful memory of the deadly havoc wrought by the recent plague, which brought so much heartache and misery to those who witnessed, or had experience of it. But I do not want you to be deterred, for this reason, from reading any further, on the assumption that you are to be subjected, as you read, to an endless torrent of tears and sobbing. You will be affected no differently by this grim beginning than walkers confronted by a steep and rugged hill, beyond which there lies a beautiful and delectable plain. The degree of pleasure they derived from the latter will correspond directly to the difficulty of the climb and the descent. And just as the end of mirth is heaviness, so sorrows are dispersed by the advent of joy.
He then goes on to write that the time frame is within 1348: "... the sum of thirteen hundred and forty-eight years had elapsed since the fruitful Incarnation of the Son of God, when the noble city of Florence, which for its great beauty excels all others in Italy, was visited by the deadly pestilence". He describes the symptoms of the plague, and the effects on not only those it takes hold of, but those who attempt to flee the city. Many, he writes, "were constrained, either by their poverty or the hope of survival, to remain in their houses". He goes on to write about the dead, the problems of burying the dead, and the fear people had of caring for the sick, then finally he introduces the characters of this tale:
... it chanced (as I afterward heard from a person worthy of credit) that there foregathered in the venerable church of Santa Maria Novella, one Tuesday morning when there was well nigh none else there, seven young ladies, all knit one to another by friendship or neighbourhood or kinship, who had heard divine service in mourning attire, as sorted with such a season. Not one of them had passed her eight-and-twentieth year nor was less than eighteen years old, and each was discreet and of noble blood, fair of favour and well-mannered and full of honest sprightliness.
Inside the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella.
They talk to each other, and one, Pampinea, observes that there is no good reason to remain in the city and they ought to go to the countryside to avoid the worst of the plague. The ladies agree and ask three young men "in a spirit of chaste and brotherly affection" to accompany them. And so they go, and having spent a short while sleeping and familiarising themselves with the area, Pampinea, who has been elected queen of the day, says:
As you can see, the sun is high in the sky, it is very hot, and all is silent except for the cicadas in the olive-trees. For the moment, it would surely be foolish of us to venture abroad, this being such a cool and pleasant spot in which to linger. Besides, as you will observe, there are chessboards and other games here, and so we are free to amuse ourselves in whatever way we please. But if you were to follow my advice, this hotter part of the day would be spent, not in playing games (which inevitably bring anxiety to one of the players, without offering very much pleasure either to his opponent or to the spectators), but in telling stories - an activity that may afford some amusement to both the narrator and the company at large. By the time each one of you has narrated a little tale of his or her own, the sun will be setting, the heat will have abated, and we shall be able to go and amuse ourselves wherever you choose. Let us, then, if the idea appeals to you carry this proposal of mine into the effect.
All are in favour and they begin.

First Story: This is narrated by one of the young men, Panfilo, and it is about the wicked Ser Cepperello of Prato -
He would take particular pleasure, and a great amount of trouble, in stirring up enmity, discord and bad blood between friends, relatives and anybody else; and the more calamities that ensued, the greater would be his rapture.
Cepperello, or Ciappelletto as he is also known, is diagnosed with a terminal illness. In his last confession he lies, pretends to show remorse for lesser sins, and portrays himself as a very holy man. After his death he is venerated into a saint. The earliest source for this story is found in Sulpicius Severus' Life of Saint Martin (5th Century A.D.).

Second Story: This is narrated by Neifile, "whose manners were no less striking than her beauty". She tells the story of a Jewish man, Abraham, whose friend Giannotto di Civignì tries to convert to Christianity. Despite witnessing first hand the corruptness and depravity of the clergy, Abraham converts, believing that even with all of this, Christianity "continues to grow in popularity, and become more splendid and illustrious, I can only conclude that, being a more holy and genuine religious than any of the others, it deservedly has the Holy Ghost as its foundation and support". He is baptised as John and becomes "a good and worthy man". This story derives from Avventuroso Ciciliano by Busone da Gubbio (1311).

"The Three Rings" by Louis Chalon (1900).
Third Story: This is told by Filomena and is about Saladin, a sultan who has run out of money. He believes Melchizedek, a Jewish man, could help him financially but he does not trust him to lend him money fairly. He devises ways to trick Melchizedek out of his money, but -
The Jew, who was indeed a wise man, realized all too well that Saladin was aiming to trip him up with the intention of picking a quarrel with him, and that if he were to praise any of the three [Judaism, Christianity, or Islam] more than the others, the Sultan would achieve his object.
Melchizedek replies with a story of a man who promises his three sons that he will leave them a previous ring. Unable to decide which son to leave the ring to, he makes two additional copies so it is impossible to tell the rings apart. Impressed, Saladin is honest with Melchizedek, and Melchizedek lends him the money he needs. This story probably is inspired by a French poem Li dis dou vrai aniel, which in turn derives from The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit by Stephen of Bourbon (13th Century).

Fourth Story: This is narrated by Dioneo, one of the young men. He tells of a young monk who seduces a woman, and is observed by an abbot. Knowing he has been seen, the young monk leaves his room (and leaves the woman where she is) and the abbot goes in:
Master Abbot, having looked her up and down, saw that she was a nice, comely wench, and despite his years he was promptly filled with fleshy cravings, no less intense than those his young monk experienced. And he began to say to himself: 'Well, well! Why not enjoy myself a little, when I have the opportunity?'
And so he does, and is discovered by the monk. The Abbot cannot punish the monk for something he has done himself, so they sneak her out, and, as Dioneo says, "we can only assume that they afterwards brought her back at regular intervals". This story quite likely comes from Cento Novelle Antiche (13th Century) or a notoriously bawdy French tale L'Evesque qui benit sa maitresse (The bishop who blesses his mistress), which Geoffrey Chaucer was also inspired by. Dioneo is gently rebuked afterwards for telling such an unsuitable story.

"The Dinner of Hens" by Louis Chalon (1900).
Fifth Story: This is told by Fiammetta and is based on a tale from One Thousand and One Nights (كتاب ألف ليلة وليلة). In it she tells of the Marchioness of Montferrat who is host to the King of France. She realises he intends to seduce her and so fills him up with a banquet of chickens to check his passions - "And thus, in the same way that he had foolishly become inflamed, so now he wisely decided that he was honour-bound to extinguish the ill-conceived fires of his passion".

Sixth Story: Told by Emilia, it is about a man who remarks one day he had previously drank wine of such quality Christ himself would have drunk it. A friar takes offence, and he is instructed to appear at Mass every morning then report to him at breakfast. During one mass the man hears the quote "For every one you shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life", after which he presents himself to the inquisitor who asks him if he has any doubts or questions about the service. The man replies,
Every day since I started coming here, I have seen a crowd of poor people standing outside and being given one and sometimes two huge cauldrons of vegetable water which, being surplus to your needs, is take away from you and the other friars here at the convent. So if you are going to receive a hundred in the next world for every one you have given, you will have so much of the stuff that you will all drown in it.
The other friars find this amusing, but the inquisitor, having had his hypocrisy highlighted, does not and orders him to go away and never return (I must say I found this tale rather bizarre). This tale may be based on a real inquisitor, Pietro della Aquila of Florence.

The tomb of  Cangrande della Scala.
Seventh Story: Narrated by Filostrato, this is a story about a prince of Italy, Cangrande della Scala (who, in real life, was Dante's patron). He is to host a great banquet, however he changes his mind at the last minute and offers presents to all the court-entertainers who would have performed - all except Bergamino. Bergamino stays around until Cangrande (also spelled Can Grande) asks him why he looks so unhappy. He replies with a story about Primas who, with others, goes to an Abbot's house for breakfast. Primas looks very much unkempt and so the Abbot refuses him food, so Primas is left eating his own bread. Soon the Abbot is ashamed of himself and offers him food, drink, clothes, and the freedom of his household. Cangrande is left feeling guilty for not giving Bergamino any kind of compensatory gift, so he settles Bergamino's bills and treats him much as the Abbot ultimately treated Primas.

Eighth Story: This story is told by Lauretta and it's about the avarice of Ermino de' Grimaldi, and how Guiglielmo Borsiere, with a few choice words, shames him:
'Sir, I do not think I could suggest a thing that no man has ever seen, unless it were a fit of the sneezes or something of that sort. But if you like, I can certainly suggest a thing I do not believe you yourself have ever seen.'
'Ah', said Ermino, who was not expecting the answer he was about to be given, 'then I beg you to tell me what it is.'
Whereupon Guiglielmo promptly replied:
'Let Generosity be painted there.'
When Ermino heard this word he was so overcome with shame, that his character was suddenly and almost totally transformed.
Ninth Story: This is the shortest story and is narrated by Elissa. She tells of a sharp reply from a lady of Gascony to the King of Cyprus, which changes him from a weak man to a courageous one. This story comes from Il libro di novelle et di bel parlar gientile (also known as Cento Novelle Antiche) written between 1280 - 1300) by an anonymous author.

Tenth Story: The final story of the day is narrated by Pampinea, who was elected queen for the day. She tells of Master Alberto of Bologna, an old physician who falls in love with a widow - Malgherida de' Ghisolieri. She and her friends mock his age, and he chides her; thus she is defeated.

*****

Following the tales is the conclusion: the sun is setting, the heat is abated, and Pampinea elects Filomena to be queen of the second day. And as tempting as it is to try to read and write about The Decameron in ten days, I couldn't possibly find the time this week! So I'm aiming to write about each day of The Decameron over the next ten weeks. This is obviously the first, and next Tuesday I'll write about the second. So far I'm very much enjoying it! I've wanted to read The Decameron for a while, but I decided that it might be good as a precursor to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, which was very inspired by Boccaccio.

******
Further Reading
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