100 Days of Decameron

Already sold on the idea and ready to begin? Click the quote above to go directly to the project page for more information.


We all are looking for ways to make it through these days of isolation and uncertainty, and turning to books for solace and diversion is one method many of us will employ in the days and weeks to come. To help with this process, we have found the perfect book — The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio. The book was written during the Great Plague of the 14th century. It is funny, imaginative and a bit bawdy, the perfect antidote to worry-inducing headlines. And, it is a doorstop of a book, the kind you say you’ll read “when you get the time.” Well folks, now is that time.

Please join us for “100 Days of Decameron” (click link for more information). Starting April 1 and for the three-plus months that follow, we will gather together, virtually and spiritually, to read this classic. The book is perfect for a project of this sort. The Decameron takes place in a Tuscan villa where seven young women: Pampinea, Filomena, Neifile, Fiammetta, Elissa, Lauretta, and Emilia; and three young men: Filostrato, Dioneo, and Panfilo, are self-quarantined while the plague is ravaging Florence. Being young and of active disposition, they stave off boredom by establishing a routine – every day they take walks, sing and tell stories. They do so for 10 days, with each of these young people telling a tale each day, for a total of 100 stories.

We will be led by Anna Barker, an assistant adjunct professor at the University of Iowa, and a member of the City of Literature board of directors. As Anna writes in her introduction to the project, “This is not so different from the routines the world community finds itself developing today while dealing with yet another global plague, COVID-19…Written at the intersection of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the tales reveal a great deal about the values and aspirations of the times, but remain vital and relatable today because of their earthy humanity… The tales of love range from romantic and erotic to the tragic and grotesque and offer a witty and honest glimpse into the complexity of human interactions. In addition to the tales of courtship and lust, the young story tellers indulge in a vast variety of topics that deal with cleverness and trickery, free will and virtue, reversals of fortune, lost and restored faith.”

We will start on April 1, when we will post Anna’s introduction to the first 10 stories on the project webpage, and then will post her introduction to each new set of 10 stories every 10 days.

We will keep the conversation going each day on social media. Please follow along and contribute your own thoughts and ideas at #100DaysofDecameron.


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