Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Boccaccio Baby!

It is possible that some of you may not have heard that, throughout this very year, the anniversary of the birth of Giovanni Boccaccio is being celebrated in Bacchanalian excess all over Europe. An enormous number of conferences have been organized, the proceedings of which will emerge over the next couple of years and will keep us going for some good while to come. It’s all very exciting, to be perfectly honest. I have saddled up a couple of times myself, giving a paper in Bologna in November of last year, on the Mannelli glosses to the Decameron, another paper in Binghamton, NY, on the catchwords in the Berlin autograph of the Decameron, and then another last week, which was great fun, on Boccaccio and Petrarch in the Rome conference Boccaccio in Europa. These have been very stimulating meetings, with a lot of fresh and interesting research. Of particular interest in Binghamton, for example, was the work presented by Marco Cursi on the evolution of Boccaccio’s handwriting and punctuation, as well as the fascinating head at the end of the Toledano autograph of the Comedìa. I’ll be heading to Manchester, for Locating Boccaccio in 2013, next month, to give a paper again on Mannelli. And then, hopefully, no-one will have to listen to me for at least a while more. But the anniversary seems to have concentrated the mind for Boccaccian studies, and there is such a lot of work being done and in the process of coming out. The ‘Events’ page on the website of the Casa del Boccaccio is like a veritable trending Twitter feed. There is a website dedicated to listing the conferences and exhibitions, here (the English version of which is not always updated as cleanly as it could be), while the Trenitalia website hosts a PDF with a list of everything that’s happening, presumably to help the conductors deal with the hoards of people moving around the peninsula. I know what you’re thinking: it’s like the Jubilee in 1300 all over again! And so it should be.

Apart from the conferences already mentioned above, there has been a very interesting gathering in Ferrara in November 2013 entitled Dentro l’officina di Boccaccio, with an excellent account provided by one of its participants, Angelo Eugenio Mecca on his blog. The proceedings are due to appear at the end of this year or at the beginning of 2014 with the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Collana “Studi e Testi”. Later in the year, the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana will host an exhibition of autograph manuscripts, which has occasioned a range of very important and exciting research by the best palaeographers and philologists around. There will also be a conference held between Florence and Certaldo, which will be, I suspect, ‘the big one’. 


As if this wasn’t enough, a brand new edition of the Decameron has been published, by Rizzoli in the BUR Classici series, with a newly edited text, prepared by Maurizio Fiorilla, an introduction and apparatus of notes by Amedeo Quondam, and introductions to each giornata by Giancarlo Alfano. And then there will be, with Cambridge University Press, Martin Eisner’s book Boccaccio and the Invention of Italian Literature: Dante, Petrarch, Cavalcanti, and the Authority of the Vernacular.

So this is a tremendously exciting year to be working on Boccaccio. Let’s hope we can all do him justice.

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