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Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Giovanni Boccaccio

The Italian poet, Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) was most probably born in Tuscany. That he was an illegitimate son, as is put beyond dispute by the fact that a special licence had to be obtained when he desired to become a priest. He was brought up with tender care by his father, who seems to have been a merchant of respectable rank.

Boccaccio lived in Naples 1328–41, where he fell in love with the unfaithful Fiammetta who inspired his early poetry. It was on Easter-eve, 1341, in the church of San Lorenzo, where Boccaccio saw for the first time the natural daughter of King Robert, Maria, whom he immortalized as Fiammetta. in the noblest creations of his muse. Boccaccio’s passion on seeing her was instantaneous, and was returned with equal ardour on the part of the lady. But not till after much delay did she yield to the amorous demands of the poet, in spite of her honour and her duty as the wife of another.

Boccaccio completed his great collection of tales, the Decameron, in 1353. A huge fresco of life in the late Middle Ages, in which seven ladies and three gentlemen fleeing the Black Death in Florence left the city for a country villa and over a period of ten days told one hundred stories. Decameron represents all social classes in situations ranging from comic to dramatic.

During his last years Boccaccio lived principally in retirement at Certaldo, a town in the province of Florence. He have entered into holy orders, moved by repentance for the follies of his youth, had he not been dissuaded by Petrarch. He died there on December 21, 1375.

Engraved portrait of Giovanni Boccaccio by Raffaello Sanzio Morghen dated 1822

The Decameron is believed to have influenced Geoffrey Chaucer and his famous book of the Canterbury Tales.


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