The Decameron

Giovanni Boccaccio, trans. from the Italian by Wayne A. Rebhorn. Norton, $49.95 (1,264p) ISBN 978-0-393-06930-3
In time for Giovanni Boccaccio’s 700th birthday, Wayne A. Rebhorn, professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin and translator of The Prince and Other Writings by Machiavelli, has provided a strikingly modern translation of Boccaccio’s medieval Italian classic. Fleeing Florence and the plague of 1348, 10 young men and women retreat to a country estate, “surrounded by meadows and marvelous gardens,” where they spend their days in leisure while the Black Death ravages the city. To fill their time, and affirm life in the face of death, they tell stories: on each of 10 days, every character spins a tale on a theme. Thus, there are 100 stories in total, which range in tone from tragic to triumphant and from pious to bawdy, and which serve as monuments to the rich medieval life and society that the plague was to fundamentally alter. Rebhorn’s translation is eminently readable and devoid of the stilted, antiquated speech associated with the classics. Indeed, at times the translator’s rendering of Boccaccio’s Italian into contemporary idiomatic American English feels jarring: “my cheesy-weesy, sweet honeybun of a wife.” But on the whole, his translation’s accessibility allows for the timeless humanity of the work to shine through. The Decameron affords a fascinating view into the lost world of late-medieval Italy, and the variety and volume of tales offers us a refuge and relief from the tragedies that haunt our own world. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/22/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
Show other formats
Paperback - 848 pages - 978-0-14-044269-4
Paperback - 752 pages - 978-0-19-282712-8
Hardcover - 704 pages - 978-0-393-01754-0
Paperback - 334 pages - 978-0-393-04458-4
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-393-09132-8
Mass Market Paperbound - 693 pages - 978-0-451-62134-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 736 pages - 978-0-451-62746-9
Paperback - 444 pages - 978-0-520-05872-9
Hardcover - 688 pages - 978-0-8018-1465-5
Hardcover - 293 pages - 978-0-460-00845-7
Paperback - 752 pages - 978-0-19-283691-5
Hardcover - 978-0-460-00846-4
Hardcover - 978-0-318-73394-4
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-486-41113-2
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7861-1657-7
Paperback - 190 pages - 978-3-95472-384-3
Paperback - 766 pages - 978-1-84022-133-6
Hardcover - 2 pages - 978-1-904605-89-8
Paperback - 422 pages - 978-1-247-73512-2
Paperback - 612 pages - 978-1-247-97800-0
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.