Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Aimless Reading: The B's, Part 27 (Giovanni Boccaccio)

The Decameron
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Boccaccio, Giovanni
The Decameron

It's a miracle I ever read this book at all, given how much of someone else's highlighting is in it. I purchased it used at the Fordham University Bookstore on Fordham Rd. in the Bronx for an excruciatingly boring class on Renaissance literature. My professor was old and shaped like a pear and he read from notes that were laminated to protect the pages from aging. It did not, unfortunately, protect his ideas.

It opens:

Human it is to have compassion for the unhappy, and a great deal is required of those who are happy, especially if they required comfort in the past, and managed to find it in others. Now, if any man ever had need of compassion or found it dear to him, or received comfort from it, I am that man; for, from my earliest youth until the present time, I have been inflamed beyond all measure with a most exalted and nobel love, perhaps too exalted and noble for my lowly station. Although was praised and more highly esteemed by those who were discreet and who had some knowledge of this love, nevertheless it was extremely difficult to bear: certainly not because of the cruelty of the lady I loved but rather because of the overwhelming fire kindled in my mind by my poorly restrained desire which, since it would not allow me to rest content with any acceptable goal, often caused me to suffer more pain than was necessary. In my suffering, the pleasing conversation and consolation of a friend often gave me much relief, and I am firmly convinced I should now be dead if it had not been for that. But since He who is infinite has been pleased to decree by immutable law that all earthly things should have an end, my love, more fervent than any danger that might result from it could break or bend, in the course of time diminished itself, and at present it has left in my mind only that pleasure which it usually retains for those who do not venture too far out on its dark seas; and thus where there once used to be a source of suffering, there now remains a sense of delight, for every torment has been removed.

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