August 30th, 2010
Publication of Boccaccio Geografo, a collection edited by Associate Professor of Romance Languages Roberta Morosini
Publication of Boccaccio Geografo, a collection edited by Associate Professor of Romance Languages Roberta Morosini, was sponsored by Ente Nazionale G. Boccaccio and Wake Forest University(http://www.polistampa.com/public/static/sl_5090.htm). The volume examines fourteenth-century geography and Boccaccio’s approach in describing lands and customs surrounding the Mediterranean. The author of the Decameron was the first to write a full treatise on the rivers, lakes, and mountains of Italy and the first to study the Canary Islands, called in his time “the Fortunate Islands”. Boccaccio Geografo gathers a rich sampling of land and navigation maps from the most important Italian libraries, the British Library, and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Authors probe alterity and diversity in Medieval times—the journeys of men and women in the perilous waters of the Mediterranean, the representation of Naples and Alexandria of Egypt, which face the sea, and a garden where Tuscan grapes encounter the spices and magic of the Middle East.
They say a book should never be judged by its cover, but we should trust the beautiful image of the intellectual, examining a globe-shaped domestic landscape of churches, trees, and fish, by Bartolomeo Anglico from a thirteenth-century manuscript that graces this volume. It illustrates Boccaccio’s numerous interests, which Dr. Morosini wanted
to explore one by one, requesting help from experts on geography and fourteenth-century literature. The book’s cover invites the reader to start a journey through a world, not a map of the world, but a real world that Boccaccio animates with men and women, Christians, Jews, and Muslims, who reappear in the Decameron with a complexity and dignity unique in a time rife with prejudice.
Boccaccio Geografo brings Boccaccio’s world to life. It was a century when geography was always blurred with the fabulous tales of Christian missionaries in Asia, Marco Polo’s tales from China, and Alexander the Great’s letter to Aristotle, which narrates his trip through a magical India, populated by mythical animals like the basilisk, king of the serpents, and strangely deformed human beings. Physical and human geography meet in this fascinating work, where spaces are literary and cultural as well as literal.