The year is 1348. The Black Death has begun to ravage Europe. Ten young Florentines―seven women and three men―escape the plague-infested city and retreat to the countryside around Fiesole. At their leisure in this isolated and bucolic setting, they spend ten days telling each other stories―tales of romance, tragedy, comedy, and farce―one hundred in all. The result, called by one critic “the greatest short story collection of all time” (Leonard Barkan, Princeton University) is a rich and entertaining celebration of the medley of medieval life.
Witty, earthy, and filled with bawdy irreverence, the one hundred stories of The Decameron offer more than simple escapism; they are also a life-affirming balm for trying times. The Decameron is a joyously comic book that has earned its place in world literature not just because it makes us laugh, but more importantly because it shows us how essential laughter is to the human condition.
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