As the Black Death swept through the city of Florence, Italian poet and scholar Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) began writing his classic tale of survival and revelry. The Decameron (1349-1353) tells the story of ten individuals who have retreated to a country villa to avoid the disease. While in this state of self-quarantine, they embark upon a fortnight of storytelling: ten stories each for ten days. The resulting work was a landmark in the literature of the Italian Renaissance–and thanks to Boccaccio’s energy, inventiveness, and insight into the human condition, the work still exerts a fascinating power nearly seven hundred years later.
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