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Day 1 - Pampinea 
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Post Day 1 - Pampinea
Hello readers!

This thread will include the Prologue, the Author's introduction, as well as the stories.



According to the notes in the back of the book, it was common for medieval writers to open with a proverbial saying. And so, with Harry Potter magic wand held high... 'opus illustrant proverbia!!!' (proverbs illustrate the work).

Opening Proverbial Saying:

"To take pity on people in distress is a human quality which every man and woman should possess, but it is especially requisite in those who have once needed comfort, and found it in others."

This sentence, for me, was a little enigmatic. Knowing Boccaccio's history as an artist who relied on wealthy men to sustain him and keeping in mind his father's bankruptcy - this sentence seems like it was written to scold those too proud to part with wealth for the benefit of men in some form of need. It most likely isn't. This book's stories are filled with comedic and romantic comfort for those that were able to survive the plague. Boccaccio was 'comforting' as best he knew how... by telling stories that would stir, tickle, and titillate those trapped in a nightmare. He may have, to some, overstepped the boundaries of what is proper. He didn't overstep them so much as he bounded over them with conscious negligence. It was his duty to meet this intense wretched state with something of equal intensity. If the plague had cast mankind's hopes and humor down into the furthest reaches of Tartarus, Boccaccio would provide a ladder long enough to enable them escape. This book, for those people, was 'escape' and we see our 10 doing just that in the subsequent Author's introduction - physically escaping the atmosphere of the plague and then mentally leaving it behind as well.

You'll notice Boccaccio talking about a most lofty and noble love in the Prologue. Apparently he's made up an imaginary lady of noble birth that he was supposed to have had an intimate liaison with. hehehe. It may have been true but the book believes the lady he past off as his lover never existed. Ha! How do you like that for a story teller?

"And it pleased Him..." Boccaccio acknowledges god. For all the clergy bashing he does throughout this book, Boccaccio does believe in god. He's a satirist making fun of men - not god. This is a noteworthy distinction for those interested.

"And what was once a source of pain has now become, having shed all discomfort, an abiding sensation of pleasure." More words of comfort and probably my favorite line in the Prologue. Boccaccio on love and life - he was in his 30's when he wrote this. Far too young to be looking back but disaster does have a way of aging a man. Besides, I think aging himself has benefits considering the scandalous tales he's about to lay on us.

You'll catch a glimpse here in the Prologue of B.'s thoughts on the ladies. They're treated somewhat like children. Men were married to girls as young as 11 in these times, maybe even younger? They weren't well educated and were expected to stay at home. B. doesn't pay them many compliments throughout the book, at all. They can be tricked easily (for the most part - sometimes they do the tricking!), they're fickle and untrustworthy, they can be wooed even though they're married, and their sexual desire seems to match a man's; which is no cause for concern today but back then I just imagine it to be different. B. says the ladies have no mental escape as men do with all their outside activities such as hunting and fishing and so these stories will provide them with just that.

This is B.'s seminal work. He poured his genius into this book and although it is original it pays homage to the likes of Dante and Virgil. He didn't write this as some comic book trifle. It is too well constructed and thought out. The seven girls and the seven virtues, the ages of the girls in relation to the bible, the days in which the girls read... there's too much in this book to decipher. On the surface it's tales of lust and folly but you can peel back its layers ad infinitum. It is genius. This book, like its hidden treasures, is literally a story, within a story, within a story. In short, B. had everlasting fame in mind - not 'just' to make some young damsel blush. This book was NOT written with the intent it speaks of in the prologue.

End of Prologue. More to come later on the Introduction of the First Day.



The following user would like to thank President Camacho for this post:
DWill
Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:43 am
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Post Re: Day 1 - Pampinea
Thanks for that great intro to the book, Pres. C. I'm late to the discussion, just starting to read this book and am looking forward to it. The Decameron had such a great influence on Chaucer, for one thing. But what is so striking about the set-up here is that all the ladies and lads are acting so chaste and pure (which, as B. tells us in the intro, wasn't the way things were going down during the time of the plague. Everyone was loosening up, sexually/morally, because it looked as though there was no tomorrow). And then all 10 of these paragons of virtue who are vacationing in these wonderful places that bear comparison to the Garden of Eden, tell some quite raunchy stories, and not just the men, by any means. This is doubtlessly (well, not doubtlessly) because these were the stories B. had. He puts them into a certain frame, but the frame doesn't necessarily have the same qualities as his stories. Though according to the introduction in my Penguin Classic (skimmed), the stories get progressively more delicate as the days go on.



Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:20 am
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Post Re: Day 1 - Pampinea
Yes, you're right. In contrast to how B. describes the attitudes of people and the 'loosening up' or living for today because tomorrow you'll be dead type thinking - our 10 are extremely virtuous. They range in age up to 27 or 28 years old, I believe. Each male has an interest in one of the 7 ladies but the story concentrates on their stories and doesn't mention to much of their activities beyond that... it certainly doesn't mention any sexual contact between any of the storytellers. A group of 7 women and 3 men taking a vacation together today, I just can't imagine there not being sex. So yes, unless there is something we don't know, they're super virtuous!!! :)

I got about half way through the introduction before I found it was spoiling the stories for me. That's part of the reason I left the Introduction blank in the Intro page. I'll read it after I read the book and then go back and write a proper one.

I see you've read about the frame within a frame. I like how this was described in the intro. It's true. Sometimes the stories have stories within themselves and the depth of the book gets such that the stories tend to be more believable. They become even more believable as B. uses actual people, accurate times (for the most part), and plausibility. The reader gets sucked in.

got to go to work bbl



Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:46 am
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Post Re: Day 1 - Pampinea
Interesting about the frame within a frame. This structure is used in Don Quixote as well. I thought it was an innovation of Cervantes', ignorant me. Also interesting that having characters who comment about the fiction, within the fiction, as they did in DQ, is considered to be postmodern! I'm also bowled away by the "liberalism" of B. He seems to want to acknowledge that, to a great extent, we need to accept the way people are and not just suppress their human or animal tendencies. B.'s great model was Dante, but as the introduction guy says, Dante was very conservative about human behavior--straight Catholic party line--whereas B. definitely is not.

This being booktalk, after all, religion will be talked about. It's surprising to me that B. can mount such devastating attacks on the church without apparent fear of reprisal. The sixth story, first day, has an inquisitor going about his business of trying to pin heresy on an innocent man, so it seems that there was no spirit of liberalism where the faith was concerned. But saying that the religious officials are corrupt as hell apparently wasn't an offense against the faith itself. In the very first story in Day One we have an atheist, also rather surprising.



Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:04 am
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Post Re: Day 1 - Pampinea
I haven't read Don Quixote. I've been meaning to read it for a long time. I tried once when I was in the military but wasn't able to make it very far before I gave up interest. I was heavily into non-fiction in those days. I am more inclined towards fiction these days so I should give it another try. I'm pretty sure the idea of the story within a story preceded the Decameron, at least that's what I remember from the introduction. I'll be rereading it in order to make a proper post regarding it in the section marked... you guessed it... introduction.

The D. has other firsts though such as, "out of the frying pan... into the fire." The translation is literal. B. has used this famous 'English' idiom nearly two centuries before it's used in Sir Thomas More's treatise on heresy (1528). - Day 2, story 1.

"He seems to want to acknowledge that, to a great extent, we need to accept the way people are and not just suppress their human or animal tendencies." I like this line a lot. I agree 100%. This is a human comedy. It really 'undresses' people and exposes our primal and natural side. I wonder what a relief it was to someone brought up believing people should be one way, constantly fighting their natural urges, to read the Decameron and discover they weren't alone.

To neglect or to not anticipate these natural needs and urges in yourself or in others is a prime reason people meet with disaster in these stories.

I've yet to read the Divine Comedy. I'll read it after I'm done with the D.

Atheist... I don't know. He seems more not to care what god thinks - finding him and his saints repugnant - than to believe god doesn't exist.

You're right about B.'s take on religion. I don't know much about the sort of reprisal he got from writing about them so critically. I'll try looking that up.



Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:48 pm
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Post Re: Day 1 - Pampinea
Let me know what you think about the poem at the conclusion of the day. I'm not much for poetry.



Sat Dec 04, 2010 2:44 pm
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