Giovanni Boccaccio (1313 -1375) stood on the threshold of the Renaissance
We know him for his work of fiction – foremost Decameron, which is still worth reading just for the fun of it. Added to this should nevertheless be his work as biographer, poet and literary scholar in both Italian and Latin; as well as his work as a merchant – banker, courtier, scribe, philologist, geographer, social critic, lecturer, cleric and ambassador of the Florentine Republic. As such he left a substantial correspondence, which offers an enticing window on the changing worlds of fourteenth-century Europe.
This year scholars will celebrate the 700th anniversary of his birth with a number of conferences and symposiums, while Italy will host a number of exhibitions and festivities, foremost an exhibition of his manuscripts “Autografi e biblioteca di Boccaccio. Mostra di manoscritti. Firenze, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, anno 2013”. Recently an international seminar took place in Firenze at Palazzo Strozzi, where perspectives, research and initiatives were planned for the centenary.
Locating Boccaccio 2013
One of the more daring initiatives is a series of events to be held at the University of Manchester at the Town Hall as well as in John Rylands Library. Boccaccio – although agreed to be on par with Dante and Petrarca – often get somewhat bypassed. Is this a reflection of his own literary anxieties (initially he seems to have been less pompous in his affections and later he became very conventional in his writing)? Or is it a reflection of the grand industries of Dante and Petrarca, which might have side-lined Boccaccio to a supporting role in the narratives of these great poets and scholars? This is the overall question, which the conference seeks to address, while focusing on his forms of writing and their material context – manuscript traditions, palaeography, bibliography. But also the older critical traditions as well as more modern (queer and gender) perspectives will be presented. The conference will be held at the John Rylands Library, which holds one of the most remarkable collections of incunable editions of Boccaccio’s work.
This article was first published 12.10.2012
Locating Boccaccio in 2013
Manchester Town Hall and John Rylands Library
10.07.2013 – 12.07.2013
Read more about the exhibition – Locating Boccaccio 2013 – here
The Decameron Web
Want to know more about Boccaccio’s Decameron and the poet? Then the place to start is the Decameron Web. Although dated it is still a very informative. The Decameron Web is a project of the Italian Studies Department’s Virtual Humanities Lab at Brown University.
Although totally destroyed during WW2, the last home of Boccaccio in Firenze has been rebuilt and functions today as a space for exhibitions, a library and a meeting place. The foundation keeps an updated homepage with the latest news.