Wednesday, March 4, 2009

1300 to 1399: The Divine Comedy to The Decameron

Dante. Italian. 1321. Poetry. The Divine Comedy. Actually a realistic picture and analysis of every aspect of earthly human life. Allegory of the individual soul’s progress toward God. Progress of political, social mankind toward peace on earth. The day is Good Friday in 1300. Virgil takes Dante through Hell. He ascends the mountain of Purgatory. Beatrice takes him through Paradise to God. Dante goes through Hell to free him of temptation of sin. The purpose of his trip through Purgatory is to purify Dante’s soul of even the capacity for error. The closer to God, the greater the bliss. Purified, Dante is able to gaze on the Trinity.

Boccaccio. Italian. 1340 (?). Romance. Il Filocolo. (“Love’s Labor.”) Travails of lovers Florio and Biancofiore. (French version was Flores and Blanchefleur.) Episodes and digressions, the most famous of which is the Thirteen Questions of Love.

Boccacio. Italian. 1340 (?). Romance. Il Filostrato (“A Man Overwhelmed by Love” Troilus.) Troiolo, Criseida and Pandarus. When Criseida leaves Troiolo, he is stunned by grief. Source for Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde.

Anonymous. Chinese. 1350 (?). Novel. Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Historical novel. Endless episodes and stratagems. Personalities of generals and kings.

Boccaccio. Italian. 1351/53. Stories. The Decameron. The year of the Black Death, 1348. Seven ladies and three men escape from the city to the hills of Fiesole. Ten days of stories. 100 anecdotes, fabliaux, folk tales, fairy tales. Bernabo, Isabella, Calandrino, Titus, Gisipus, Griselda.

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