This fourteenth-century Italian tome, which inspired Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Balzac, remains one of the most enjoyable anthologies of short stories ever written. Nice capable British narrators represent the storytellers in Naxos's sampling of a graceful translation. Some young unmarried nobles, the "beautiful people" of the age, decide to wait out the Florentine plague in their country estates, amusing each other every evening with earthy stories, some outright bawdy, others pointing to a moral. The narrators capture the language and style with keen understanding. Well-chosen music adds to the atmosphere.
Here are 16 tales from one of the great works of the Middle Ages. Ten young people have fled for a while the terrible effects of the Black Death in Florence and, in an idyllic setting, tell a series of brilliant stories, by turns humorous, bawdy, tragic, and provocative. This celebration of physical and sexual vitality is Boccaccio’s answer to the sublime other-worldliness of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
A complete list of narrators includes Giovanni Boccaccio, Teresa Gallagher, James Goode, Polly Hayes, Jonathan Keeble, Siri O'Neal, Alison Pettit, Daniel Philpott, Nickie Rainsford and Stephen Thorne.