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Chapter 1 - The Novella on Trial

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 August 2023

Justin Steinberg
Affiliation:
University of Chicago
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Summary

The first chapter analyzes the role of verisimilar realism in two trials: the summary trial officiated by Dioneo between the servants Tindaro and Licisca (Introduction, Day 6) and the inquest of the woolworker Simona, who is falsely accused of poisoning her lover Pasquino (4.7). It argues that Boccaccio uses these trials to foreground the risks involved when rhetorical categories such as “likely” and “probable” are used to evaluate evidence. These procedural tales are driven by the tension inherent between what everyone knows on the one hand and the singular event on the other, or between normative knowledge and the “novella.” In the trial between the two servants, the judge Dioneo acknowledges that women are not always virgins on their wedding night. He updates the storytellers’ shared picture of the world, making it more realistic. The trial of the woolworker Simona suggests how an art of the probable might incorporate singular phenomena. Yet certain details always remain outside the frame.

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Law and Mimesis in Boccaccio's Decameron
Realism on Trial
, pp. 31 - 59
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • The Novella on Trial
  • Justin Steinberg, University of Chicago
  • Book: Law and Mimesis in Boccaccio's Decameron
  • Online publication: 07 August 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009071130.002
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  • The Novella on Trial
  • Justin Steinberg, University of Chicago
  • Book: Law and Mimesis in Boccaccio's Decameron
  • Online publication: 07 August 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009071130.002
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • The Novella on Trial
  • Justin Steinberg, University of Chicago
  • Book: Law and Mimesis in Boccaccio's Decameron
  • Online publication: 07 August 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009071130.002
Available formats
×