Rethinking the Critical History of the Decameron: Boccaccio's Epistle XXII to Mainardo Cavalcanti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


This article reevaluates the significance of a portion of a letter written by Boccaccio to Mainardo Cavalcanti which has traditionally been read as a comment on the Decameron and evidence for the existence of a female reading public. It argues that there is no evidence to link the comments in the letter specifically to the Decameron; rather it refers to the whole of Boccaccio's vernacular output and should be read as a rhetorical pronouncement on the abilities of different kinds of readers, rather than as an address to historical women.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-47
Number of pages25
JournalModern Language Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Material Texts
  • Centre for Medieval Studies


  • Boccaccio
  • Mainardo Cavalcanti
  • Decameron
  • reading
  • female readers
  • historiography

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