The author Giovanni Boccaccio was an Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch, and Renaissance humanist. He was born in the town of Certaldo, and he became well-known as a writer with a number of notable works such as On Famous Women and the Decameron. He wrote his works in Tuscan vernacular as well as Latin by illustrating realistic characters. Boccaccio’s characters and plot represent realistic, spirited, and clever individuals contrary to Medieval virtues, while his contemporaries wrote about virtues such as chivalry and piety.
The author Giovanni Boccaccio is part of the so-called “Three Crowns” of Italian literature with Dante Alighieri and Francesco Petrarca. His humanistic point of view has quite impacted Italian literature. Boccaccio’s literary style influenced many other others in different literature. Especially, Geoffrey Chaucer in Enligh literature and Miguel de Cervantes in Spanish literature were impressed by Boccaccio’s unique writing style. Furthermore, Montaigne and Goethe would directly borrow material and techniques from him. In that sense, he is one of the seminal influences on both Renaissance art and philosophy.
The Decameron is regarded as Boccaccio’s masterpiece and this notable work sheds light on tragic and comic views of life. The style of the Decameron is a perfect example of Italian classical prose with the influence of Renaissance literature throughout Europe. Decameron begins with the escape of 10 young people from plague-stricken Florence in 1348. The book is actually structured as a frame story by including 100 tales. The stories are told by a group of seven young women and three young men. They attempt to banish their sorrows by communing with nature, singing, dancing, and telling stories. In these stories, themes are about the power of love, the duality of fortune, the virtue of intelligence, the hypocrisy of holiness, and the madness of vice.
Like his Florentine contemporaries Dante and Petrarch, Boccaccio continues to be one of the most important figures in Italian literature.
“Being a rouser of sleeping talents, Love had rescued those virtues from the darkness in which they had lain so cruelly hidden, and forced them into the light, clearly displaying whence he draws, and whither he leads, those creatures who are subject to his rule and illuminated by his radiance.”
— Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron