Giovanni Boccaccio Additional Biography


(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

0111201519-Boccaccio.jpg Giovanni Boccaccio (Library of Congress) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Boccaccio was a scholar whose voluminous works included romantic novels, epic poems, biographies, and collections of myths and legends. His most famous work—and the one most often censored—is the Decameron, a collection of one hundred tales that appeared from 1349 to 1351. Although Boccaccio had probably collected the tales over many years, his introduction to the work explains that seven young ladies and three young men entertained each other with the stories for ten days while the bubonic plague ravaged Florence in 1348. Both charming and humorous, the stories deal mostly with themes of love and sex—often in a lascivious fashion. Although Boccaccio appears to have been a practicing Roman Catholic, he used the stories to poke fun at the moral laxity of the priests and monks of his time.

From an early date, pious critics were shocked by the salacious and ostensibly anticlerical aspects of the Decameron. In 1497 Girolamo Savonarola, the prior of Florence’s St. Mark’s Cathedral, burned the work as a part of the “bonfire of the vanities.” In 1559 the Index Librorum Prohibitorum of Pope Paul IV condemned the book; however, in 1573 Pope Gregory XIII allowed publication of an expurgated edition that retained the licentious parts but removed portions considered disrespectful of the Church and tainted by heresy. Fourteen years later, Pope Sixtus V proscribed all editions of the work. Around 1600 Boccaccio’s book was...

(The entire section is 528 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

The exact place and date of the birth of Giovanni Boccaccio are not known. Until the first half of the twentieth century, it was believed that he was born in Paris of a noble Frenchwoman; scholars now regard that story as another one of the author’s fictional tales. Most likely, he was born in Florence or Certaldo, Italy, in June or July, 1313, the natural son of Boccaccio di Chellino and an unidentified Tuscan woman. His father, an agent for a powerful Florentine banking family (the Bardi), recognized Giovanni early as his son; the boy, as a result, passed both his infancy and his childhood in his father’s house. Boccaccio’s teacher in his youth was Giovanni Mazzuoli da Strada, undoubtedly an admirer Dante Alighieri, whose...

(The entire section is 587 words.)


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Giovanni Boccaccio (boh-KAH-cheeoh) was born in June or July of 1313 in Florence or Certaldo (now in Italy), the illegitimate son of Florentine merchant Boccaccio di Chellino. The identity of his mother is uncertain. He spent his early childhood in Florence, but in 1327 he moved with his father to Naples, where he studied banking, trade, and canon law. Boccaccio eventually abandoned his pursuit of a vocation in commerce and law for a literary life.

The years spent in Naples were crucial to Boccaccio’s social, intellectual, and literary development. Because of his father’s connections with the aristocracy of Naples, Boccaccio enjoyed the carefree and privileged lifestyle of the court of King Robert of Anjou. There,...

(The entire section is 896 words.)


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Although influenced by past literary traditions and the classics, Giovanni Boccaccio developed a style and language uniquely his own in the area of prose fiction. A review of his earlier works reveals his gradual development toward the skilled use of vernacular Italian in narrative prose form. His masterpiece, The Decameron, was written at the pinnacle of his career as a literary artist, displaying without restraint his refined gifts for narration and rich characterization. The Decameron not only was an innovation in Italian literature but also became a fertile source of reference for authors throughout the world for centuries to come.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Giovanni Boccaccio (boh-KAHCH-eeoh) was born in 1313, probably in Florence or Certaldo (but possibly in Paris), and he may have been the illegitimate son of a respectable Florentine merchant then living in France. Boccaccio called himself a citizen of Florence. His father reared him well, giving him a sound education. He studied with Giovanni da Strada, a celebrated grammarian in Florence, and by his own account he was from his earliest years devoted to poetry. He said that he was writing verses at the age of seven. Very early, however, he was apprenticed to an eminent merchant with whom he remained for six years and with whom he seems to have traveled about Italy and France. Because the boy was deeply interested in studies, his...

(The entire section is 792 words.)


(European Poets and Poetry)

Giovanni Boccaccio was born in 1313, in Florence or Certaldo, as the illegitimate son of Boccaccino di Chellino and an unknown mother. His father, a fairly well-to-do merchant banker for the Bardi banking family, made his home in the village of Certaldo some twenty miles southwest of Florence. Despite the circumstance of Boccaccio’s birth, his father recognized his son’s legitimacy by 1320 and sought an education for him. By the age of seven, Boccaccio had had his first taste of Latin verse, in particular that of Ovid and Vergil. His father, however, hoped for his son to follow him in his career as a merchant-banker, and by the time Boccaccio was fourteen, he was brought or sent to Naples to be apprenticed as a merchant in one...

(The entire section is 574 words.)