Can we relate to Renaissance literature, or is our modern world too distant from the Renaissance one? 

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jerseygyrl1983 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the primary goals of the Renaissance, other than reviving Classical standards in art and lifestyle, was the development of Humanist philosophy—a system of thought that persists to date.

Humanism is the idea that all of civilization's problems can be solved through rational human thought. In the Renaissance, this subordinated the authority of the Catholic Church. Today, there is still cultural debate among those who wish to solve civilization's problems through rationalism and scientific knowledge, and among those who think that religion ought to take precedence in all aspects of public life.

Renaissance literature, particularly Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy, is still very much read in schools. The epic poem takes Dante from Hell (the Inferno) to Purgatory in the company of the Roman poet Virgil, then to Paradise in the company of his beloved Beatrice.

The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio is less frequently read. It tells the story of a group that has gathered in a deserted villa for two weeks to flee from the Black Plague in Florence. They tell stories to keep each other entertained. By the end of their time in the villa, they have told 100 stories.

Though The Decameron includes elements of medieval religious superstition and mysticism, it also elevates the characters from the mercantile class. They are witty and sophisticated, while those from more traditional and rural backgrounds are regarded as stupid. One could draw similarities today with the language that is used to refer to people from certain places.