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Reading and meaning : the reception of Boccaccio's Teseida, Decameron and De mulieribus claris to 1520

By Rhiannon Jane Daniels


Much of the twentieth-century research carried out on the reception of Boccaccio in medieval and Renaissance Italy has focused on the Decameron to the exclusion of all other works. This thesis puts existing research into context by considering two additional works by Boccaccio alongside the Decameron, and by using an innovative methodology to analyse the evidence for reception in Italy before 1520. The Teseida and De mulieribus differ sufficiently from the Decameron in terms of their influences, style, and date of composition to offer a broader view of Boccaccio's fortuna.\ud The thesis is divided into two parts, each reflecting a different methodological approach, the theoretical implications of which are discussed in some detail in the\ud introduction. Part I analyses critical responses found in a wide range of sources, such as poetry, letters, and biographies. The discussion opens with a consideration of the authorial image which Boccaccio projected in his literary works and letters (Chapter 1), followed by an evaluation of the responses of Boccaccio's acquaintances(Chapter 2 ), and of the responses of those that had no personal contact with Boccaccio( Chapter 3 ), to this projected authorial persona. In Part II I uncover responses to Boccaccio made by a wider section of the reading public, using the evidence for reception inherent in the\ud physical structure and presentation of books. Chapter 4 acts as an introduction to the second part of the thesis, defining and outlining the significance of the three categories of evidence used: materiality, paratexts, and traces of reading. Chapter 5 complements the first chapter by evaluating how the presentation of Boccaccio's autograph manuscripts reflects his intended readership. In Chapters 6-8 I proceed to discuss the reception of the Teseida, Decameron, and De mulieribus, focusing on the physical structure and presentation of a sample of manuscripts and printed books containing these texts. The final conclusion draws together Parts I and II, illustrating the\ud complementary nature of the evidence discussed in each part of the thesis.\ud \ud My research challenges commonly held views about the reception of the Decameron, and offers new insights into the fortuna of the Teselda and De mulieribus\ud in a period marked by changing, and often conflicting, cultural and intellectual concerns, and as manuscript culture gave way to print. The Appendices list the\ud locations of manuscripts I have viewed, provide bibliographic descriptions of the editions of the Teselda, Decameron, and De mulieribus printed before 1520, and offer\ud transcriptions of paratexts from editions of each work

Publisher: School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds)
Year: 2003
OAI identifier:

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