The Decameron

Literary influence

The stories from the Decameron influenced many later writers. Notable examples include:

  • Edgar Allan Poe's short horror story The Masque of the Red Death is said to be inspired by this work.
  • The famous first tale (I, 1) of the notorious Ser Ciappelletto was later translated into Latin by Olimpia Fulvia Morata and translated again by Voltaire.
  • Martin Luther retells tale I, 2, in which a Jew converts to Catholicism after visiting Rome and seeing the corruption of the Catholic hierarchy. However, in Luther's version (found in his "Table-talk #1899"), Luther and Philipp Melanchthon try to dissuade the Jew from visiting Rome.
  • Marguerite de Navarre's Heptaméron is heavily based on the Decameron
  • The ring parable is at the heart of both Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's 1779 play Nathan the Wise and tale I, 3. In a letter to his brother on August 11, 1778, he says explicitly that he got the story from the Decameron. Jonathan Swift also used the same story for his first major published work, A Tale of a Tub.
  • Posthumus's wager on Imogen's chastity in Cymbeline was taken by Shakespeare from an English translation of a 15th-century German tale, "Frederyke of Jennen", whose basic plot came from tale II, 9.
  • Both Molière and Lope de Vega use tale III, 3 to create plays in their respective vernaculars. Molière wrote L'école des maris in 1661 and Lope de Vega wrote Discreta enamorada.
  • Tale III, 9, which Shakespeare converted into All's Well That Ends Well. Shakespeare probably first read a French translation of the tale in William Painter's Palace of Pleasure.
  • Tale IV, 1 was reabsorbed into folklore to appear as Child ballad 269, Lady Diamond.[11]
  • John Keats borrowed the tale of Lisabetta and her pot of basil (IV, 5) for his poem, Isabella, or the Pot of Basil.
  • Lope de Vega also used parts of V, 4 for his play El ruiseñor de Sevilla (They're Not All Nightingales).
  • Christoph Martin Wieland's set of six novellas Das Hexameron von Rosenhain is based on the structure of the Decameron.
  • The title character in George Eliot's historical novel Romola emulates Gostanza in tale V, 2, by buying a small boat and drifting out to sea to die, after she realizes that she no longer has anyone on whom she can depend.
  • Tale V, 9 became the source for works by two famous 19th century writers in the English language. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow used it in his "The Falcon of Ser Federigo" as part of Tales of a Wayside Inn in 1863. Alfred, Lord Tennyson used it in 1879 for a play entitled The Falcon.
  • Molière also borrowed from tale VII, 4 in his George Dandin ou le Mari confondu (The Confounded Husband). In both stories the husband is convinced that he has accidentally caused his wife's suicide.
  • Giuseppe Petrosinelli in his libretto for Domenico Cimarosa's opera The Italian Girl in London uses the story of the heliotrope (bloodstone) in tale VIII, 3.
  • The motif of the three trunks in The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare is found in tale X, 1. However, both Shakespeare and Boccaccio probably came upon the tale in Gesta Romanorum.
  • At his death Percy Bysshe Shelley had left a fragment of a poem entitled "Ginevra", which he took from the first volume of an Italian book called L'Osservatore Fiorentino. The earlier Italian text had a plot taken from tale X, 4.
  • Tale X, 5 shares its plot with Chaucer's "The Franklin's Tale", although this is not due to a direct borrowing from Boccaccio. Rather, both authors used a common French source.
  • The tale of patient Griselda (X, 10) was the source of Chaucer's "The Clerk's Tale". However, there are some scholars that believe Chaucer may not have been directly familiar with the Decameron, and instead derived it from a Latin translation/retelling of that tale by Petrarch. It can be generally said that Petrarch's version in Rerum senilium libri XVII, 3, included in a letter he wrote to his friend Boccaccio, was to serve as a source for all the many versions that cirulated around Europe, including the translations of the very Decameron into French, Catalan - translated by Bernat Metge - and Spanish. Lope de Vega, who adapted at least twelve stories from the Decameron to the scenes, wrote El ejemplo de casadas y prueba de la paciencia on this tale, which was by far the most popular story of the Decameron during the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. The Venetian writer Apostolo Zeno made on it,and partially on Lope's play, a libretto named Griselda (1701) which was to be musicated, among others, by Carlo Francesco Pollarolo (1701), Antonio Maria Bononcini (1718), Alessandro Scarlatti (1721), Tomaso Albinoni (1728) and Antonio Vivaldi (1735).
  • Christine de Pizan often used restructured tales from Decameron in her work "The Book of the City of Ladies" (1405).
  • Thomas Middleton's play 'The Widow' is based on tales 2.2 and 3.3.

A number of film adaptations have been based on tales from The Decameron. Pier Paolo Pasolini's Decameron (1971) is one of the most famous. Decameron Nights (1953) was based on three of the tales and starred Louis Jourdan as Boccaccio. Dino De Laurentiis produced a romantic comedy film version, Virgin Territory, in 2007. The tales are referenced in The Borgias (2011 TV series) in season 2, episode 7, when a fictional version of Niccolò Machiavelli mentions at a depiction of the Bonfire of the Vanities that he should have brought his friend "the Decameron" who would have told the "one-hundred and first" tale.

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