The topos of love by hearsay, or amor de lonh, popularized by the troubadour Jaufré Rudel, is often considered the embodiment of courtly love. It represents an idealized love that is dependent upon a perpetual state of non-fulfillment. The idea of falling in love with a person one has never seen also contradicts the widely accepted definition of love as a reaction to a visual stimulus, supported by such medieval literary authorities as Andreas Capellanus and Giacomo da Lentini. In Decameron I.5 and IV.4, Giovanni Boccaccio offers his readers a new perspective on love by hearsay, demonstrating both how love by hearsay is a possible occurrence in the natural world and how its manifestation in this world is far from the romanticized images depicted in courtly poetry. This article demonstrates how Boccaccio’s manipulation of the topos of amor de lonh contributes to his main objective in the Decameron—the renewal of literature.


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pp. 95-120
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