Giovanni Boccaccio was one of the tre corone of Italian literature. He was a huge fan of Dante – wrote biographies of his life, commentated on manuscripts, and basically everything he wrote was completely influenced by Dante’s works. I am a huge fan of Boccaccio; I think he’s hilarious. His Decameron – a series of one hundred short stories and (in my opinion) a commentary about the power of literature and its healing qualities – is chock-full of sex and humour. He’s just such a bloody brilliant writer and his works are so cleverly constructed so as to facilitate multiple and simultaneous interpretations. I firmly believe that he is one of the most underrated writers in history (which I find bizarre since his works are so universally appealing).
BBC Radio 3 broadcasts a programme on Friday nights called ‘The Verb’. Last Friday was the programme’s tenth anniversary and, as such, their topic of conversation was the number ten. Boccaccio’s Decameron featured heavily within the programme, since its ten protagonists each tell ten stories over a period of ten days. Dr. Guyda Armstrong (Manchester) was a guest on the show and talked about various issues which arise within the work, such as number symbolism, religious imagery, and gender issues. You can listen to what she had to say by clicking HERE. The part about Boccaccio comes about 35 minutes in if you don’t want to listen to the whole thing, although it is very entertaining.