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Abstract

The Decameron is, superficially at least, easy to read: its hundred stories are entertaining, direct, and highly relevant to its readers, even nearly 800 years after they were written. But, as the opening to Marchesi’s study underlines, this readability and narrative pleasure belies the work’s undeniable complexity. The Decameron is, after all, an extremely difficult book to interpret. Behind the pleasure of good stories, well told, lies a complex system of references and allusions to other texts, which both the contemporary reader and the modern critic must work hard to appreciate. Of course, it is not new to suggest that the Decameron alludes to other texts; indeed, a large proportion of criticism focuses upon the identification of sources.

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