New Perspectives in Italian Cultural Studies
Edited By Laura Benedetti, Julia Hairston and Julia L. Hairston
Aspects of Nudity in the Decameron: Tommasina Gabriele 31
Aspects of Nudity in the Decameron Tommasina Gabriele To undertake a discussion of nudity in Decameron is to provoke immedi- ately images of bawdy bedroom scenes and erotic enticement. 1 This is hardly surprising in view of the Decameron's reputation; Boccaccio himself introduces the "moral" issue of "licentiousness" which then escalates during the Counter Reformation and beyond.2 In fact, not sur- prisingly, one modem dictionary defines "boccaccesco" not only as "secondo lo stile e la maniera del Boccaccio," but as "licenzioso, sbocca- to. "3 Many critics of the Decameron deem this erotic dimension a posi- tive aspect, fundamental to Boccaccio's understanding of human nature and to his contributions to literature. Aldo Scaglione observes: "More than just 'naive,' spontaneous, natural, Boccaccio's love is 'naturalistic' inasmuch as it is an urge that engages the whole human being, body and soul, muscles and mind, senses, will, and intellect, all at the service of natural desires. "4 Others, however, reject such an interpretation of the De cameron and would thus reject this study out of hand. They seek to redeem Boccaccio's masterpiece from centuries of "mishandling" and emphasize the function of Intelligence as an ideal in the Decameron. A well-known scholar of Boccaccio once said: "I continue to maintain that there is no nudity in the Decameron." This group feels that Boccaccio is reserved, reticent in the description of sexual episodes. Yet the results of this study would confound the expectations of the proponents of both of these visions of Decameron. A linguistic...
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