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Reviews 167 Gilmont's conclusion perceptively re-assesses the opening questions, stressing (and elaborating on the point) that mixed reading practices remained throughout the 'deeply oral world' of the sixteenth century. It discusses without oversimplification the uses and places ofboth the vernacular and Latin, and draws together the variety of book-production conditions that contributors have set out previously, the better to comment on the crucial roles ofpolitics, church authority, individual publishers, and other patrons. Gilmont's following multi-faceted assessment of the impact of the reformist debate on printing is equally useful to scholars in these fields. Janet Hadley Williams Department ofEnglish and Theatre Studies The Australian National University Giusti, Eugenio, Dall'amore cortese alia comprensione: il viaggio ideologico di Giovanni Boccaccio dalla 'Caccia di Diana' al 'Decameron', Milan, Edizioni Universitarie di Lettere Economia Diritto, 1999; paper, pp. 188; R R P L28,000; ISBN 8879161172. Eugenio Giusti proposes a thesis to explain the relationship between Boccacc various works in Italian. H e argues that Boccaccio undergoes a development, or an ideological journey, in his attitude towards love, which is reflected in the works. In each case, Boccaccio has a direct message about the nature of love, which he transmits directly in his introductions and conclusions, and also by the examples of characters and narrative. In the early works, including the Caccia di Diana, the Filostrato, and the Filocolo, up to the Ninfale Fiesolano, Boccaccio adheres to the old-fashioned model of courtly love. The author of the work is closely related to the lover in the story told therein, and laments the power of the 'bella donna' w h o causes him to suffer. At the same time, the beloved w o m a n is the inspiration for the work. The author, as lover, is duty-bound to sing her praise, and obliged by his plight to offer her prayers and entreaties. With the Elegia di Madonna Fiammetta, Boccaccio begins to question his original model. A s previously, love is depicted as a tyrannical force, impossible to resist. Fiammetta wallows in her state, and makes reference to the examples in classical literature. She does nothing practical to relieve her suffering. 168 Reviews In contrast, her nurse argues that if Fiammetta loves Panfilo and suffers as a result, it is her own doing, not his. Giusti also points to the emerging theme of compassion , and the function of the work as giving useful consolation to the reader. While Fiammetta plays the victim, the male protagonist ofthe Corbaccio seeks to break out of his traditional medieval stasis and obtain revenge. On the face of it, the Corbaccio still conforms to another medieval literary-cultural model, that of the misogynist text. Giusti, however, argues that Boccaccio is indulging in irony, and is in fact attacking the content and methods of traditional misogyny. H e points, for example, to inconsistencies in the arguments of the characters, and says they are clearly intentional, and meant to be noticed. Finally comes the Decameron, which Giusti regards as the completion of an ideological revolution. The sense of the term 'Galeotto' in the title is that the work offers comfort, not that it leads to lust. Characters come to a realisation or understanding of their own situation and limitations, as does Filostrato in the 'cornice', and these examples will be instructive to the lovelorn women who make up the work's readership. In the course of his writing Boccaccio has moved from passion to compassion, and from the individual fo the social. As context, Giusti adds that compassion and social concern were lacking in most reactions to the plague, and Boccaccio is arguing for their adoption. Giusti's account contains no new material, the novelty lying rather in the interpretation, which is, however, strained. While Giusti provides ample discussion of themes such as widowhood and dreams, he explicitly avoids explanation of the two poles of his thesis, courtly love and comprehension, and the reader is advised to look elsewhere. Analysis is based on treating characters as real people, as when Giusti speculates on the cause of one of Lauretta's decisions, and wonders if it might not be due to factors unstated in the text...


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pp. 167-169
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