Adventures in Speech: Rhetoric and Narration in Boccaccio's Decameron

Adventures in Speech: Rhetoric and Narration in Boccaccio's Decameron

Adventures in Speech: Rhetoric and Narration in Boccaccio's Decameron

Adventures in Speech: Rhetoric and Narration in Boccaccio's Decameron

Synopsis

"The Decameron is a narrative account of a situation in which narration takes place - a collection of one hundred stories set within a larger story. As a group of young men and women fleeing the plague trade stories to pass the time of crisis, storytelling occurs in a social context that allows for comment upon the tales by the tellers themselves, in a setting that elicits one story in return for another. In his close and original analysis, Pier Massimo Forni uses the notion of rhetoric as a guiding principle for a critical assessment of the Decameron. He explores the discursive tools with which the narrators connect the contents of their stories to their audience's environment, and goes on to argue that the book is significantly marked by Boccaccio's habit of exploring the narrative potential of rhetorical forms. Puzzling narrative segments and stories make new sense once they are understood to dramatize or enact metaphors and other figures of speech." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

This book developed both logically and methodologically from my book of Boccaccian interest entitled Forme complesse nel Decameron. Once again I have focused on questions of provenance and work, that is, the identification of sources, and discussion of modes of authorial intervention on sources. Once again, I have tried to probe the puzzling complexity of Boccaccio's operations of inventio. Adventures in Speech, however, is a substantially different book from Forme complesse. in my first study, concerns about intersections of rhetoric and narrative surfaced sporadically in the course of a comprehensive reading of only one novella (IV 1, the famous story of Tancredi and Ghismonda). This new work, on the other hand, uses the notion of rhetoric as a guiding principle for a critical assessment of the entire Decameron. When I return here to issues discussed in Forme complesse, I present new critical acquisitions, which sometimes strengthen my original argument and sometimes shed a new light on those issues.

In this study, the term "rhetoric" refers to the toolkit of discursive strategies and techniques available to any given author at any given time. With reference to Boccaccio, it is meant to cover, first of all, the range of discursive phenomena displayed by the ten young inhabitants (the brigata) of the Decameron's frame-story. the title Adventures in Speech brings together the narrative and discursive components of the verbal ritual enacted by the brigata. the title is intentionally ambiguous. On the one hand, it alludes to the fact that narrative production in the frame-story is rooted in a discursive context (the narrative situation in the Decameron allows for comment upon narration by the narrators themselves). On the other, it points to the Boccaccian habit of exploring the narrative potential of rhetorical forms. This book's founding critical premise is that in the Decameron non- narrative discourse and narration constantly gloss each other. Its broadest objective is to begin to map the complexity of such interactions. Readers of Forme complesse were given only a sense of the importance, in Boccaccio's inventio, of what could be called rhetorical imagination. Now that insight is pursued analytically.

Chapter 1 examines salient aspects of the discursive morphology that . . .

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