by Giovanni Boccaccio
This little book showcases eleven stories that are in Boccaccio’s most famous work, the Decameron. They are all concerned with love, lust and the consequences of both for all those concerned be they tragic, humorous or a mix of the two.
What struck me about this collection is how fresh the writing is. It didn’t read dated or archaic in any way despite being written in fairly early Medieval times. All of the tales have resonance for today – which, I suppose, goes to prove that the nature of love and all the complications that arise, never really changes.
On the whole, the stories are quite humorous but in each, there tended to be a passage of writing, normally thoughts or a speech from one of the characters, that was so profound, it was exceptional. In Animal Passions the monologue from the ‘old bawd’ lamenting the fate of women as they grow old was so absolutely spell-binding that I read it a couple of times over. Not only was it so accurate, I don’t think it could be bettered – it was uncannily accurate for today’s society. The insight into how a woman feels from late middle-age onwards is even more uncanny when you realise the Author is a man.
A really well-crafted, cleverly written collection of stories.