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2 - Domestic Architecture and Boccaccian Drama: Court and City in Florentine Culture

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2010

Charles Burroughs
Affiliation:
State University of New York, Binghamton
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Summary

BETWEEN OPACITY AND EXPRESSION

I have argued that language adequate to the architectural, not to speak of cultural, phenomenon of the Renaissance facade is largely absent from contemporary texts explicitly concerned with the architectural framing of elite lifestyles. Certain aspects and implications of the phenomenon reverberate, however, in imaginative literature, especially when a plot or narrative turns on an illicit or at least unexpected passage across the boundaries of social space and/or the spaces of gender. From the fourteenth century, at latest, no such boundary was more important than the facade.

In his great work, the Decameron, written between 1348 and 1353, the Florentine author Giovanni Boccaccio draws on the experience of social and affective structures, already under strain, that had recently come under extreme challenge during the Black Death. Of the numerous transgressions described or alluded to in the tales of the Decameron, many involve or require a spatial dimension. As a highly wrought literary representation, of course, Boccaccio's text is no window onto the social world of an earlier time. In relation to long-term cultural patterns, however, it is worth considering the extent to which so enduringly popular a work affected and even shaped attitudes in and beyond Florence. In terms of its own era, moreover, it suggests modes of spatial conceptualization and response available in late Trecento culture, providing an author primarily interested in narration and character with largely familiar frameworks for a wide range of actions and interactions.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Italian Renaissance Palace Façade
Structures of Authority, Surfaces of Sense
, pp. 43 - 50
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2002

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