Heliotropia 700/10
A Boccaccio Anniversary Volume

Edited by Michael PapioUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst

Collana «Colloquium» – 17 x 24 cm – pp. 306 – 2013 – € 38,50
ISBN 978-88-7916-653-9

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TABLE OF CONTENTS: Preface — Editor’s Notes (2003) — Messer Decameron Galeotto. Un titolo e una chiave di lettura (Marco Veglia) — Decameron 2.4: the Matrices of Voice (H. Wayne Storey) — Andreuccio at the Well: Sanitation Infrastructure and Civic Values in Decameron 2.5 (Maggie Fritz-Morkin) — The Motto and the Enigma: Rhetoric and Knowledge in the Sixth Day of the Decameron (Filippo Andrei) — Calandrino and the Powers of the Stone: Rhetoric, Belief and the Progress of Ingegno in Decameron 8.3 (Ronald L. Martinez) — Il vino di Boccaccio: Usi e abusi in alcune novelle del Decameron (Giovanni Spani) — Figurative Language and Sex Wars in the Decameron (Marilyn Migiel) — The Marriage of Plautus and Boccaccio (Janet Smarr) — Elissa as a New Dido: Greece, the East, and the Westward Movement of Culture in the Decameron (Christopher Livanos) — Intertestualità tra Decameron e De mulieribus claris: La tragica storia di Tisbe e Piramo (Elsa Filosa) — Boccaccio’s Vernacular Classicism: Intertextuality and Interdiscursivity in the Decameron (Simone Marchesi) — “Women Make All Things Lose Their Power”: Women’s Knowledge, Men’s Fear in the Decameron and the Corbaccio (F. Regina Psaki) — La fucina delle finzioni: Le novelle e le origini del romanzo (Elisabetta Menetti) — Phaethon’s Old Age in the Genealogie and the Decameron (Natalie Cleaver) — The Language of Women as Written by Men: Boccaccio, Dante and Gendered Histories of the Vernacular (Kristina Olson) — Boccaccio on Readers and Reading (Jonathan Usher) — On Seneca, Mussato, Trevet and the Boethian “Tragedies” of the De casibu (Michael Papio) — Bibliography — The Authors and Their Abstracts.

In honor of the seven hundredth anniversary of Giovanni Boccaccio’s birth and in celebration of its first decade of life, Heliotropia, the journal of the American Boccaccio Association, has collected in this volume a series of critical essays, some revised and some brand new, on one of the most important writers of the Middle Ages. The authors consider here not only the Decameron, but also Boccaccio’s minor works and his place in the culture of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italy.

Abstracts

FILIPPO ANDREI - “The Motto and the Enigma: Rhetoric and Knowledge in the Sixth Day of the Decameron
By reinterpreting the motto as a form of enigma, the article provides an epistemological reading of the Sixth Day of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron. As a peculiar metaphorical tool, the motto conceals and reveals philosophical knowledge. Besides providing a link to the medieval enigma tradition, the motto shows the same formal features of the ancient Greek enigma with which pre-Socratic philosophers exercised their search for knowledge.

NATALIE CLEAVER - “Phaethon’s Old Age in the Genealogie and the Decameron
In the Genealogie, Boccaccio continues his revision of Phaethon, refashioning the traditional figure of myth as an autobiographical surrogate, despite the seeming incompatibility of Phaethon’s early, tragic demise with the established career of an aging poet. These revisions serve to justify all poetic fictions and ambitions as goods in themselves, regardless of their ultimate success or failure, in turn prioritizing the reader’s responsibility for interpretation and the production of textual meaning over the author’s.

ELSA FILOSA - “Intertestualità tra Decameron e De mulieribus claris: La tragica storia di Tisbe e Piramo”
The instances of intertextuality between the Decameron and the De mulieribus claris demonstrate that the distance separating Boccaccio the storyteller from Boccaccio the Latin biographer is less than it seems. One particular case, the story of Gerolamo and Salvestra (Dec. 4.8), inspired in part by Ovid’s fable of Piramus and Thisbe, allows us to identify a number of meaningful points of contact between the two works.

MAGGIE FRITZ-MORKIN - “Andreuccio at the Well: Sanitation Infrastructure and Civic Values in Decameron 2.5”
The Communes of central and northern Italy inscribed the socio-political values of orderly governance and the common good into their sanitation infrastructure. Andreuccio’s Perugian origin implies his affiliation with a preservation-oriented water culture, indicating that his contamination of the Neapolitan well (Decameron 2.5) may be malicious and reflect his re-estimation of the value of the common good.

CHRISTOPHER LIVANOS - “Elissa as a New Dido: Greece, the East, and the Westward Movement of Culture in the Decameron
The geographic settings of the stories told by Elissa follow the trajectory first of her namesake Dido’s journey from Phoenicia to Carthage and then of Aeneas’ journey from Carthage to Rome. The westward movement of culture in Elissa’s stories has many symbolic meanings and can be read as a metaphor for the migration of Greek intellectuals to the West and the subsequent spread of Greek learning throughout the Latin West.

SIMONE MARCHESI - “Boccaccio’s Vernacular Classicism: Intertextuality and Interdiscursivity in the Decameron
Deep reflection is given here not only to the fundamental concept of the gloss, especially of the intertextual sort, but also to how and when one should be employed, as well as what it tells us. In the light of texts such as Pliny the Younger’s Epistles and the Roman de la Rose, the brigata’s gardens take on new meaning.

RONALD L. MARTINEZ - “Calandrino and the Powers of the Stone: Rhetoric, Belief and the Progress of Ingegno in Decameron 8.3”
In Boccaccio’s Decameron 8.3, the rhetorical implications of the heliotrope are mined to expose the vices of Calandrino, from gluttony to self-deception. Through the beffa, and drawing on traditional accounts of the mythical stone, the “art” of the heliotrope is revealed as the moral art of satire. Boccaccio, subtly deploying his own virtuosity as a narrator, establishes a notion of the self as a social construct subject to manipulation by language.

ELISABETTA MENETTI - “La fucina delle finzioni: Le novelle e le origini del romanzo”
The novella, born of different narrative forms, is an exceptionally fertile inventive genre that has a unique relationship with the representation of reality. Its creative background is analyzed here with an eye to its plausible portrayal of false or unlikely events, from travel narratives to the Decameron’s “poetics of digression,” all the way to the rather more fantastic than realistic novellas of Matteo Bandello.

MARILYN MIGIEL - “Figurative Language and Sex Wars in the Decameron
Focusing on the novella of Maestro Alberto (Decameron 1.10), Migiel argues that the Decameron calls upon readers to be participants in the sex wars that it stages at the site of figurative language, and exhort readers to recognize ethical responsibility we have for the stories we may even unwittingly construct about men and women.

KRISTINA OLSON. “The Language of Women as Written by Men: Boccaccio, Dante and Gendered Histories of the Vernacular”
This essay analyzes Boccaccio’s gendered history of the vernacular as the language of women in the Esposizioni (the “volgare delle femine,” accessus §19) in order to reconsider the canonical negotiations of the Proem, the Introduction to Day Four, and the Conclusion of the Author in the Decameron in this light.

MICHAEL PAPIO - “On Seneca, Mussato, Trevet and the Boethian ‘Tragedies’ of the De casibus
In 1365 Boccaccio discovered Martial’s Epigrams and concluded from a couple of their verses that Seneca the tragedian and Seneca the moralist were two distinct figures. This revelation renewed his interest not only in the tragedies themselves, but also in Mussato’s use of them and in Trevet’s commentaries. This essay explores Boccaccio’s perception of the ethical purpose of tragedy and the way he combined it with the lessons of the Consolation of Philosophy in order to create the “tragic” stories of the De casibus.

F. REGINA PSAKI - ‘Women Make All Things Lose Their Power’: Women’s Knowledge, Men’s Fear in the Decameron and the Corbaccio
Whether Boccaccio is ultimately misogynous or philogynous, he clearly scrutinizes the conventions of misogyny. This essay explores how Boccaccio explores the misogynous cliché that women share a secret knowledge which they use against the normative knowledge and power of men. In the Decameron and the Corbaccio Boccaccio uses his trademark play with voicing to highlight the masculine fear that underlies and generates misogyny as a cultural discourse.

JANET SMARR - “The Marriage of Plautus and Boccaccio”
The convergence of Plautus and Boccaccio was foundational to Italian Renaissance comedy. In some ways the features of the Decameron coincided with those of Plautine comedies. Nonetheless, what remained unacceptable differed between the two societies. Thus the Decameron contributed fruitful new elements to Renaissance theatre. Bibbiena’s Calandria was crucial to this development by treating the Decameron not just as a collection of stories and plots, but as a treasury of reusable situations, character types, gags, and speeches separable from their original contexts.

GIOVANNI SPANI - “Il vino di Boccaccio: Usi e abusi in alcune novelle del Decameron
Meaningful references to wine have appeared in literature from Homer to the present. This essay analyzes various distinct functions performed by wine in a selection of novellas in the Decameron, especially 2.4, 2.7, 2.10, 7.4, 8.6, 10.2, and sheds light on the principal uses (e.g., medical treatments) and abuses related to the nectar of Bacchus.

H. WAYNE STOREY - “Decameron 2.4: the Matrices of Voice”
Unlike many characters of the Decameron, Landolfo Rufolo is voiceless. This essay examines the transfer of narrative and rhetorical authority to the narrator of the story, Lauretta, and her appropriation and correction of mercantile ethics summed up in Boccaccio’s own narrative selection between navigare and mercatare in his late holograph MS Hamilton 90.

JONATHAN USHER - “Boccaccio on Readers and Reading”
Boccaccio’s early work as an entertaining storyteller and his later activity as an encyclopaedist and commentator seem to have little in common. But both depend on a well-developed idea of the relationship between writing and reading. This article looks at the surprisingly consistent and explicit views Boccaccio held about literal and allegorical levels of meaning, and how readers could be assisted to interpret text reliably.

MARCO VEGLIA - “Messer Decameron Galeotto. Un titolo e una chiave di lettura”
For years now, it has been thought that there must be a hidden interpretive key in “prencipe Galeotto,” the sub-title of Boccaccio’s masterpiece, that would unlock the book’s “hedonistic function.” This is a close reading of Boccaccio’s commentary on the fifth canto of Inferno that analyzes the figure of the “man-book” from a perspective that considers not only Paolo and Francesca, but also the courtly tradition at large and other literary influences that come together in the Decameron’s legendary nickname.

 


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