Friday, May 22, 2020

One a Day

I've never read The Decameron before, but coming across vivid passages from Boccaccio's own introduction to the work quoted in the pages of Philip Ziegler's The Black Death reminded me that its one hundred stories are held together by a frame-tale set in Florence during the bubonic plague outbreak of 1348. Ten well-heeled Florentines, happening to encounter each other in church, resolve to flee together to the countryside, and in the course of their wanderings they relate tales to each other at the rate of one per person per day.

The tales aren't long, and it occurs to me that by slowing down the travelers' pace tenfold I can read a single story every day, leaving abundant time for other reading, and I should be done right around September 1st, at which point perhaps we'll all have a better idea of the state of our current plague, or rather plagues. I'll be reading the Signet Classics version translated by Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa. My copy has a sprinkling of annotations, in ink, by its former student owner, the kind of thing I might once have found irritating but now find adds a level of amusement.

For an update, see: "One a day (conclusion)."

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