The Ethical Dimension of the 'Decameron'
Published: September 2015© 2016
208 Pages, 6.31 x 9.35 x 0.80 in
With The Ethical Dimension of the “Decameron” Marilyn Migiel, author of A Rhetoric of the “Decameron” (winner of the MLA’s 2004 Marraro Prize), returns to Giovanni Boccaccio’s masterpiece, this time to focus on the dialogue about ethical choices that the Decameron creates with us and that we, as individuals and as groups, create with the Decameron.
Maintaining that we can examine this dialogue to gain insights into our values, our biases and our decision-making processes, Migiel offers a view of the Decameron as sticky and thorny. According to Migiel, the Decameron catches us as we move through it, obligating us to reveal ourselves, inviting us to reflect on how we form our assessments, and calling upon us to be mindful of our responsibility to judge patiently and carefully. Migiel’s focus remains unabashedly on the experience of readers, on the meanings they find in the Decameron, and on the ideological assumptions they have about the way that a literary text such as the Decameron works. She offers that, rather than thinking about the Decameron as “teaching” readers, we should think about it “testing” them.
Throughout, Migiel engages in the masterful in-depth rhetorical analyses, delivered in lively and readable prose, that are her trademark. Whether she is examining the Italian of the Decameron, translations of the Italian into English, commentaries by scholars, newspaper articles, or student essays, she asks us always to maintain an ethical engagement with the words of others.
Introduction: The Ethical Dimension of the Decameron
1. Wanted: Translators of the Decameron’s Moral and Ethical Complexities
2 He Said, She Said, We Read: An Ethical Reflection on a Confluence of Voices
3. Can the Lower Classes Be Wise? (For the Answer, See Your Translation of the Decameron)
4. Some Restrictions Apply: Testing the Reader in Decameron 3.8
5. Rushing to Judge? Read the Story of Tofano and Ghita (Decameron 7.4)
6. New Lessons in Criticism and Blame from the Decameron
7. He Ironizes, He Ironizes Not, He Ironizes…
To Conclude: A Conclusion that Is Not One
‘Original, concise, and singularly readable, this book comes as an attractive complement to Migiel’s now classic A Rhetoric of the Decameron…. Highly recommended.’S. Botterill, Choice Magazine vol 53:08:2016
‘I would recommend the research of Marilyn Migiel to all academics (and non-academics) that might be interested not only in profound research into the Decameron, but also to anyone who wants to challenge their own idea of ethics, and what they think ethics are.’Stella Mattioli, Forum Italicum, vol 51:03:2017
‘Professor Jim Miller of the University of Saskatchewan pulls back the curtain on the historical blame game. Residential Schools and Reconciliation documents Ottawa’s handling of Aboriginal issues. This is not ancient history. It just happened.’Holly Doan, Blacklock’s Reporter. November 18, 2017
“A new and insightful contribution to Decameron studies, The Ethical Dimension of the Decameron calls for us to read with more precision and to come to an acceptance of ambiguities instead of eliding or resolving them.” Janet Smarr, Department of Theatre and Dance, University of California, San Diego
“The Ethical Dimension of the Decameron asks important questions. It does not preach a particular viewpoint, but, instead, questions the imposition thereof; it challenges the reader to look beyond the surface, much like the text at its core.” Myriam Ruthenberg, Department of Languages, Linguistics, and Comparative Literature, Florida Atlantic University
Howard R. Marraro Prize awarded by the Modern Language Association