Memento mori – remember that you must die – is a worthy and necessary message for ordinary times, when you might forget. Memento vivere – remember that you must live – is the message of The Decameron.
– RIVKA GALCHEN, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE
In a villa high above Florence a group of seven women and three men are cocooning, seeking shelter from the epidemic, scared by reports of death coming nearer to their own doorstep by the day. Sound familiar?
It should, as the above text describes Boccaccio’s fourteenth-century masterpiece the Decameron. At once bawdy, witty, tragic and ever-topical, this selection of stories demonstrates how great literature survives a fast-forward to the twenty-first century.
Carlo Gebler has now re-imagined twenty-eight of the original stories, drawing out the essence of the tales in order to let their true genius and wit shine. Over nearly seven hundred years, the Decameron has established itself as a form of literary self-therapy. This is a text for troubled times, which will continue to resonate and provide solace for years, if not decades to come.