Bitching about the Decameron

Bitching about the Decameron
…while in quarantine! The Decameron is 14th century Italian collection of short stories, told by characters who are hiding out from the Black Death as it ravages Florence. Join me to listen to the stories in translation, along with commentary, complaints, explanatory notes, exasperation and, well…bitching

Bad Omens
Aug 11 • 29 min
In today’s stories of unhappy love, we have two examples of visions in a dream. In the first (4.5) a woman’s lover is murdered by her brothers, and he appears to her in a dream to help her find his body. In the second (4.6) a man dismisses the ominous…
When Love Really, Really Doesn’t Conquer All
Aug 4 • 32 min
In today’s episode, our storytellers continue to try to tell a story miserable enough for Filostrato, who has demanded tales of love that ended unhappily. After skipping story 4.2, 4.3 describes three pairs of teenagers who run away together, but whose…
F*ck the Haters
Jul 28 • 49 min
Day four begins with an authorial digression, in which Giovanni explains and disputes the criticism he has been receiving. From there, we launch into our first story of unhappy love (4.1): a true tragedy in which a woman’s lover is murdered by her father…
Satisfying the Terms and Conditions
Jul 21 • 33 min
Skipping stories 3.8 and 3.10, in this episode we bring the third day to its conclusion with a tale (3.9) about a clever and determined woman, who neatly outmaneuvers her husband so that he is forced to acknowledge her worth and give her the respect she…
Hooray! The dead guy’s someone we don’t care about!
Jul 14 • 30 min
In this episode, a particularly long story (3.7) is skimmed, summarised, and bitched at. The protagonist, having been blanked by his lover, disappears for seven years, and comes back to find that he has apparently been recently murdered, and his lover’s…
A Better Ride Than A Palfrey
Jul 7 • 33 min
Today’s stories (3.4 and 3.5) both feature men who managed to arrange liasons with married women under their husbands noses. In the first, the husband is preoccupied by prayer in the next room; in the second, the lover carries on both parts of the…
Arranging Assignations by Accusation
Jun 30 • 30 min
In today’s story (3.3), a woman decides she wants to have an affair with a particular gentleman. So she informs his friend, a friar, very specifically of all the things he really shouldn’t do to such a respectable lady! (The gentleman gets the hint; the…
‘Whoever it was that did it, don’t do it again!’
Jun 23 • 32 min
Day 3 begins with two stories about men who satisfied their desires through deception, and got away with it. In the first (3.1), a labourer pretends to be deaf-mute in order to get hired by a nunnery, and quickly gets co-opted by the nuns to see to more…
Jun 16 • 25 min
In this story (2.10), a young woman is kidnapped from her old and unsatisfactory husband by a pirate, who proves to be far more satisfactory. Repeatedly, and at considerable length. When her husband arrives and tries to reclaim her, she informs him of…
When She’s Really, Really Too Good For You
Jun 9 • 34 min
In today’s story (2.9), locker room talk turns into a boast, then into a bet, then sneaking into someone’s bedroom, stealing their stuff, and accusing them of adultery, which is followed by attempted murder, a secret escape, living in disguise, dramatic…
An Excess of Deus Ex Machina
Jun 2 • 34 min
After skipping story 2.7 (due to intolerable values clash), this episode picks up with story 2.8, a truly Shakespearian plot of deceit, hidden identities, convenient illnesses, and dramatic revelations at the very end.
An Abundance of Maternal Affection
May 26 • 34 min
In today’s story (2.6), a family is split up by war, shipwreck, and piracy, and experiences increasingly implausible adventures in the decade and a half before they are all reunited.
Out of the Cesspit, Into the Tomb
May 19 • 37 min
In our first story (2.4), a failed merchant turns pirate, gets captured by other pirates, gets shipwrecked, and quits the trading life altogether once he makes it home. In our second (2.5), a well-meaning but foolish young man has a hell of a night in…
Tropes Galore!
May 12 • 29 min
In this episode, in a single story (2.3), we encounter: Fair and clever young gentleman thrown into poverty; There was only one bed; Woman disguised as a man; [redacted]; Secret marriage; Secret royalty; God/fortune brought me the perfect husband; Maids…
In those clothes, you look just like my dead husband!
May 5 • 30 min
In this episode, we embark upon the second day of the Decameron, which has the theme of ‘people who get into trouble, then have an unexpected stroke of good fortune’. Our two stories (2.1, 2.2) describe a guy who pretends to be paralysed, gets the shit…
Unjustified Deduction From Leeks
Apr 28 • 29 min
In this episode, we bring Day 1 of The Decameron to its conclusion with stories 1.8, 1.9, and 1.10. Hear about a miser shamed into virtuous wall-art, a cowardly king turned vengeful by a noblewoman’s bitching, and an old dude who justified his crush with…
“A Sitting Target of Evil”
Apr 21 • 33 min
This episode features a record-setting FOUR stories (1.4-1.7), with hypocritical abbots, lecherous kings, miserly friars, and uncharacteristically parsimonious princes all being set in their place by appropriately deployed wit. Also misogyny, and a weird…
From the Mouths of Jews
Apr 14 • 22 min
In the second and third stories from Day 1, Boccaccio uses learned and virtuous Jews as mouthpieces for controversial statements about religion: first, that the entire Papal Court is full of shitbags, and second, that Jews, Muslims, and Christians all…
Mister Little-Hat
Apr 7 • 28 min
At last, we hear our first story: how an utterly reprehensible person lied so thoroughly in his last confession that an entire town became convinced he was a saint.
A Plot Device Appears!
Mar 31 • 16 min
In this episode, we meet the protagonists of our frame tale: seven young women and three young men, who decide to hide out from the plague in a palace outside the city. The organisation of this venture, for some reason, requires several lengthy speeches…
The Prologue
Mar 24 • 15 min
In which Giovanni Boccaccio tells us why he is writing this story, that the beginning is going to be miserable but worth it, and regales us with details of the Black Death in Florence that cannot possibly be omitted (in his opinion). Meanwhile, we…