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Continuing my delving into medieval Italian literature, I came across this gem. Il Novellino is a collection of short anecdotes and popular stories written around 1250-1300. Most (semi-?)educated people of the time knew these tales and would recognise them if heard told. Many are familiar to us as forming the basis of the stories of Boccaccio, Chaucer, Shakespeare, etc. As there’s no easily obtainable copy of this public domain text, I’ve formatted the text into ePub and PDF formats.
Il Novellino is one of the first works extant in the developing Italian language. Latin at this time is slowing losing […]
I’m about to embark on a review of Giovanni Dall’Agocchie’s 1572 fencing treatise “Dell’Arte Di Scrimia” (The Art of Fencing) and it terrifies me. Not because the text is difficult or unapproachable but because there’s already been so much research and practice of the Bolognese tradition that I doubt whether I can add anything to that body of work. My approach, however, may be a little different.
I’m not so much concerned with re-creating the style as it was but understanding how I can use what Dall’Agocchie can teach in my own practice. How, for instance, does he propose I […]
Next on my Italian Renaissance reading list is the father of Humanism, Francesco Petrarca, better know in the English speaking world simply as Petrarch (1304-76). He spanned the gap between Dante and Boccaccio, being friends with the latter and his dad mostly likely being an acquaintance of the former.
I’ve read and studied Petrarch before, at university and after. Reading him in translation is always a bit of a disappointment. The translator can choose either to convey his carefully nuanced meaning complete with complex classical allusions or to capture the easy flowing music of his words. No single translation can […]
Next on my reading list of the Italian Renaissance is the Divine Comedy (or Commedia) of Dante Alighieri, written some time between 1308 and 1321 after his exile from his beloved Florence with the expulsion of the White Guelphs. It can in some ways be seen as Dante’s way of dealing with this blow in the same way as Boethius wrote the Consolation of Philosophy to deal with his impending execution.
Before saying a few words about each of the three books of the Commedia, I want to point out a couple of things about the whole which I […]
I’ve just finished read the Decameron, as part of my literary tour of the Florentine Renaissance, and I want to say a few words about my reactions to it in order to enlighten those poor, benighted illitates out there who haven’t experienced the joy of reading this book. I’m not going to say anything about Boccaccio himself or the book as a whole as you can look that up yourself.
The first thing the struck me was the lengthy description of how the Black Plague hit Florence only a couple of years before. Even across a gap of some 650 […]
You may remember some months ago I posted enthusiastically about teaching myself Italian with the help of a couple of friends and some online resources. Here’s the result:
I studied. I tried. I failed.
I can’t teach myself Italian. Sure, I’ve picked up a few words and phrases – and probably enough to keep out of trouble when I finally make it to Italy – but I can’t say I’ve really learned or understood anything about the language.
I came across a number of specific difficulties. I may have been able to solve them if I’d put in more effort […]
My fascination with the Italian Renaissance, its history and in particular its literature, continues to grow. To feed it, I’m embarking on a small reading project which covers the greats of the period. Here’s the list of those authors who made the grade (notice that they’re all either Florentine or intimately associated with Florence). Let me know of any others I should add to the list.
All of these authors I’ve read before but either in excerpt or a long, long time ago in a university far, far away. Now, I can give them the time and appreciation they deserve. […]