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Giovanni Boccaccio: The Elegy of Madonna Fiammetta Sent by Her to Women in Love

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Alexandra Hennessey Olsen and Roberta Payne

The Elegy of Madonna Fiammetta is narrated by a woman who recounts her love affair with a young man she calls Panfilo and his betrayal of her. Medieval works depict courtly love as a disease suffered by upper-class men; the Elegy depicts the process of falling in love from the woman's point of view. It is important both in its own right as a literary work and because of its authorial feminism; Boccaccio makes us appreciate both the folly of the narrator and the treachery of Panfilo and (by extension) of all men. In addition, it is a precursor of the psychological and epistolary novels and is of importance in the history of prose fiction.
Contents: Authorial feminism in medieval texts; love poetry and prose narratives; obsessive love; autobiography; psychological novel.