On the occasion of the seventh centenary of the birth of Giovanni Boccaccio (Florence(?), June, 1313 – Certaldo, December, 1375), the great Italian writer and poet mentioned by Dan Brown in his Inferno, the Laurentian Library in Florence is organizing, from October 11, 2013, to January 11, 2014, an exhibition of manuscripts entitled “Boccaccio Autore e Copista” (Boccaccio: Author and Copyist).
The beautiful library is part of the church of San Lorenzo and is the most suitable place to host an international exhibition dedicated to Boccaccio, given that the library contains nine of his fourteen autographs. It contains his own works and transcriptions of other texts.
The exhibition displays the overall development of the research conducted on one of the greatest authors of Italian literature, who has drawn continuous interest over the centuries. Boccaccio is one of the few Italian literary authors who had and continues to have a large influence on major European literature, as witnessed by the translations of his works in all languages as of the fifteenth century.
The exhibition, which features fifty-six manuscripts, mostly owned by the Laurentian Library, and a large quantity of multimedia materials, aims to provide an overview of the entire production of Boccaccio’s works as a literary author, and his works as a copyist.
The first section of the catalogue presents vulgar works in chronological order, whereas the second one discusses the Latin works. Each work is displayed by an introductory essay and a description of one or more manuscripts with references to the most recent studies.
The activities of Boccaccio as a copyist, editor and commentator of Dante Alighieri is documented in the third section, while the fourth one is devoted to the Zibaldoni, a collection of works by Latin and vulgar authors, which exhibit the most diverse readings of Boccaccio. The Zibaldoni also contains Boccaccio’s first literary attempt, a sort of diary of the author, a private memory of his writing exercises, and his intellectual curiosity.
Special sections of the exhibition will focus on the Decameron, with a room especially dedicated to the presentation of the autograph now in Berlin, as well as presentations of short stories recited in video version, and an interactive presentation on various descriptions of the Teseida.
The exhibition also caters to an heterogeneous audience: one can consult materials in paper and and multimedia form, containing both works and illustrations, to understand the path the Florentine poet and writer took in life. The exhibit also contains the translations, all illustrated in various European and non-European languages, of the Decameron, a collection of one hundred short stories written in the fourteenth century by the founder of Italian prose literature in the vernacular. The work has inspired the ideal of hedonistic life and is dedicated to the cult of the peaceful way of life, typical of humanist culture and Renaissance.
Picture by Nove foto da Firenze