Hi friends, how are you all? What have you been reading? Anything good?
Going into this year, I had a semi-clear idea of the kinds of classics I wanted to read. Especially when considering those chunky classics that are on my physical tbr – I have a list! But at no point did I consider reading 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒐𝒏 𝒃𝒚 𝑮𝒊𝒐𝒗𝒂𝒏𝒏𝒊 𝑩𝒐𝒄𝒂𝒄𝒄𝒊𝒐.
Not to say though that I didn’t know it existed. I did, I promise! I read a few extracts from it during my undergraduate days but I never really had the motivation to pick it up in its entirety and read it.
But I did.
In a month.
Who am I?
I just wanted to talk about my experience reading 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒐𝒏 and record my thoughts and feelings about it! This isn’t going to be a review, just a one-sided conversation haha. But please, talk to me in the comments!
I mainly read 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒐𝒏 for the Classics Bookclub, run and hosted by the lovely Jennifer Brooks. I didn’t physically own 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒐𝒏, (I still don’t) but I did have it as an eBook! So I thought, well, why not?
I must say, that diving straight into 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒐𝒏 was not a great idea for me. I felt like I floundered a little bit, to be perfectly honest with all of you. I love medieval history and that was what I studied in my undergraduate and honours degree, but I did need to reorientate myself to an understanding on what the historical context was, who was being talked about, the references that were made, etc.
Briefly, if you didn’t know, 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒐𝒏 is a story within stories. There is a group of people ( Queen, King and friends, acquiantences, etc.) that have all taken to the country in order to isolate away from the public as a result of a little thing that was happening at the time called the Black Plague. So, to entertain themselves, they begin to tell stories to each other all in line with a theme that was given for that day, for example, revenge or love.
These stories were absolutely wild. Yes, it was written literally in the 1600s so there are some very dated ideas about women, for example, and the use of racial stereotypes (sprinkled through, I think), but the core of these stories were such an adventure in and of itself. One of my favourite stories was one about a wife cheating on her husband with a knight, because she wasn’t getting any of her sexual needs met by her husband. The husband, when finding out, lost his mind – which, valid response. But then decided on the most unhinged revenge plan! He fed his wife the heart of the knight she was having the affair with. She ate the heart, completely not knowing that she was eating her lover’s heart let alone a human heart, just thought it was nice meat being served! But then the husband confront her and tells her who she just ate! It was such an intense scene and such a wild story!
But that wasn’t the only one!
There were many stories that spoke of the corruption and perversity of priests or men of religion which I thought was interesting as that really hasn’t changed. But 𝑩𝒐𝒄𝒂𝒄𝒄𝒊𝒐 emphasised the hypocrisy of these ecclesiastical figures, which was absolutely fascinating and makes me want to go into a deep dive regarding 𝑩𝒐𝒄𝒂𝒄𝒄𝒊𝒐 and his opinions on the Church. 𝑩𝒐𝒄𝒂𝒄𝒄𝒊𝒐’s writing was incredible and surprisingly engaging and immersive. I really didn’t expect that, I was looking forward to sitting down and reading this mammoth book.
One of the things that I would highly recommend if you are thinking of reading 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒐𝒏 is to pick up the audiobook. I decided to pick up the audiobook to help feel not as overwhelmed but I think that was the best way to consume this novel. 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒐𝒏 is meant to be heard. It is literally a story of people telling stories – when you listen to it as an audiobook it just adds to the immersive experience as well as more fully engages you. In this way, I found myself not zoning out when listening and actually finding ways to listen – I needed to take out the washing? Put in my headphones and listen to 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒐𝒏; I needed to fold the clothes, do my puzzle, wash the dishes? Headphones on. It was fabulous. I haven’t felt this way about an audiobook in a very long time!
The audiobook on Scribd was a full cast and it was absolutely exceptional! Seriously, if you want to read 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒐𝒏, pick up the audiobook. Don’t only read it with your eyes, the overall reading experience is increased when also listening to it being told to you. I think this idea links with an overall discussion pertaining to the use of audiobooks to enhance the reading experience, but especially for classics.
If you are a beginner in reading classics or are considering getting into classics, do not underestimate the power of the audiobook! And you can also find them for free online – either through YouTube, your local library (if you have access to one) or through LibriVox so there’s no excuse! Audiobooks truly enable a more engaging and immersive reading experience, and it also helps with understanding the language that is used better. For instance, when I re-read Pride and Prejudice and then worked through the rest of Jane Austen’s full length novels, the audiobooks helped me immensely. I was able to understand the tonal cues, what was a joke, what was said seriously – because, Jane Austen can be difficult to understand!
So for me, listening to 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒐𝒏 and reading along with the eBook was absolutely incredible. I laughed so many times, I cringed in horror or embarrassment, I was shocked at the absolute AUDACITY of some of the characters in these stories – and overall, I had a marvellous time.
I think my rating is a solid 4 star. I just had so much fun!
And that’s it! I hope this was okay – me just talking at you about 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒐𝒏 𝒃𝒚 𝑮𝒊𝒐𝒗𝒂𝒏𝒏𝒊 𝑩𝒐𝒄𝒂𝒄𝒄𝒊𝒐! Thank you so much for reading and for all of your support! Let me know of any of your favourite audiobooks, or if you would like me to dedicate a blog post about some of my favourites!
Until next time, happy reading!
All the love,
(Image in banner: A Tale from the Decameron, by John William Waterhouse, 1916)