Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 11, 2020

German-Italian Literary Connections in the Late Middle Ages: Boccaccio’s The Decameron in Light of Some Late Medieval German Narrative Precedents

Albrecht Classen
From the journal arcadia

Abstract

Comparative research focused on medieval literature continues to be characterized by many desiderata, especially with regard to the fruitful relationships between late medieval verse narratives, mæren, and the famous Italian storyteller Boccaccio and his Decameron. This paper brings to light four significant Middle High German verse narratives from the 13th or early-14th century that demonstrate remarkable similarities with stories contained in Boccaccio’s Decameron. While the study of Boccaccio’s sources has traditionally been focused primarily on Old French (fabliaux) or Latin sources, here I introduce a number of texts that were composed just a few decades earlier and which express, in surprising parallel, strikingly similar themes that could be straight from the textbook the Italian poet might have drawn from. We have, of course, no specific evidence as to Boccaccio’s direct familiarity with late-medieval German literature, but the motif analysis reveals major parallels between the examples in The Decameron and in those mæren.

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Published Online: 2020-11-11
Published in Print: 2020-11-09

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