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Boccaccian Thresholds: Mediating the Italian Tale in Early English Print

Thu, March 26, 8:30 to 10:00am, Altes Palais, Unter den Linden 9, Second Floor, 213


In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, tales from Boccaccio’s Decameron had an extraordinary (and extraordinarily diverse) fortune in English print. Decameron novellas are translated from the original Italian or from intermediary Latin or French renderings; rendered in prose or verse; published as free-standing tales, in novella collections, as plays, or ballads, or silently embedded into other narratives; and turned to instructive, diversionary, or comic ends. This paper will consider how the printed paratext resituates and mediates these different material performances of the tales for new English readerships, thereby proposing new forms and functions for Boccaccio’s infinitely mobile text. The paratext, along with the other textual, visual, and physical features embedded in these translated book-objects, allows us to map specific moments of encounter between discrete languages and individual editions, and some editorial and translational strategies of authorship, authorization (and de-authorization).


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