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The Board also agreed to renew Dr Manuela Scarci's position as Business Manager and to ask a new group of esteemed colleagues to serve on the Advisory Committee. All these changes have now been implemented and the new governing structure of the journal is in place. You may consult it on the inside of the front cover of the journal. As I assume the editorial reins, I am keen to thank my predecessor, Prof. Francesco Guardiani, for the years of service he has generously given to the journal.

We are all grateful to him and thank him for his devotion and labour. I, in particular, look forward to his continued participation in our venture as a member of the Advisory Committee. Special thanks are also in order to the past members of the Editorial Board and of the Advisory Committee. During the previous four years their input and advice has been much valued both by Prof.

Guardiani, as editor, and by me, as Book Review Editor at that time.

As I begin my mandate and look forward to the next four years of work, I am grateful to see on the new Editorial Board and Advisory Board of Quaderni d'italianistica the names of scholars whose profound knowl- edge of Italian literature, culture, language, history, and art will, without a doubt, contribute greatly to the smooth running and efficient manage- ment of the journal.

I am grateful to them for having agreed to serve and I can promise them all that I will often call upon them for advice and counsel. Lastly, I would like to encourage all readers of Quaderni d'italianistica to make this their journal of first choice when publishing their work. I look forward to being swamped with submissions and to being able to publish the best from members of our society and from our readers all over the globe. In this article, he passionately but, alas, unsuccessfully tries to prove that Boccaccio had a sincere desire to describe realistically the con- dition of the Neapolitan poor.

In any case, Rea's article allows us to recon- sider the impact that both courtly and plebeian Naples had on Boccaccio's imagination: What was Naples for the young Boccaccio? A peaceful, ele- gant court or a "falling forest"? Was it aristocratic or exclusively plebeian? Finally, I will discuss Boccaccio's Neapolitan works to show that his interest in the lower classes does not extend to a concern for their faith, as Rea claims.

A relevant trace of the plebeian or 'other' Naples can definitely be found by adopting a different point of view; that is, by recognizing Boccaccio's auditory sensitivity in ren- dering the vocio, the din of voices rising from the city, a strictly Neapolitan form of polyphony. With all due respect to the historical and hermeneutic Quaderni d'italianutica.

Remembering that Boccaccio spent almost ten years in Naples is crucial to understanding some aspects of his work. If, by now, the strong influence of the French Angevin court on Boccaccio's courtly and chivalric production is well established, little is known about the impact of popular Naples on his sensibility and imagination.

As Salvatore Battaglia realized: "In all Boccaccio's works -from the Filocolo to the Decameron — there is an element of fantasy and creativity and, above all, a healthy love for life, mankind, events, and passions that bears the sign of Naples, of a free, instinctive, spontaneous environment in which reality always holds the fascination of things that renew themselves, in particular the feeling of a confident, free, and easy delight in living.

Rea does not share Torraca's view and believes that Boccaccio showed a certain ambivalence in his "double life" as man and writer: "Boccaccio's double life would thus proceed along two lines, sometimes clearly separat- ed and sometimes blurred and blended. Rea concludes that Boccaccio was more sympa- thetic toward the common people than to the court of King Robert, to the point of denouncing their miserable living conditions.

I do not intend to establish which of the "two lives" or two sides of the city most inspired Boccaccio: the aristocratic Naples or the harbour and streets; it would be an idle exercise. However, Rea exclusively discusses neglected and definitely uncourtly evidence of passages about Naples in Boccaccio's work. According to Rea, Boccaccio in the Partenopeian city "prepared himself not only to become Boccaccio but, in the process, became a great writer, because he first became a Neapolitan" "Boccaccio a Napoli" It is also true that, as Charmaine Lee highlights, "although Boccaccio spoke highly of Naples, his relation- ship with Robert was never that enjoyed by Petrarch.

Boccaccio, like Dante, had very little good to say about Robert, whom he considered rather dull witted" Boccaccio came into contact with the French vernacular tradition at the court, but outside Robert's restricted intellectu- al circle. It would be interesting to ascertain if Boccaccio was ever con- cerned with the lower classes, as Rea claims about Naples. Boccaccio intro- duces his Eclogues, specifying that if the names of the characters do not carry any particular meaning, the titles of each eclogue have been "careful- ly chosen.

Boccaccio's resentment toward the Grand Seneschal is particularly evident in a letter, "Quam Pium," to Zanobi da Strada ed.

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Auzzas and especially in his third and eighth eclogues; they both clearly satirize and allegorize Acciaiuoli. Auzzas and Levarie Smarr, Eclogues The allusion to Acciaiuoli's invitation is clear as is that to his involvement in the assassination of the young king Andrew at the end of the eclogue cf. Therefore, while Boccaccio was not indifferent to the drama of the Neapolitan poor, to assert that Letter XIII is either problem- atic or evinces a sense of the tragic, as Rea claims, goes too far.

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On the con- trary, in two instances, when comparing Neopolitans to beasts with whom he does not want to be associated, Boccaccio is extremely concerned to remind Nelli of his familiarity with the Naples of theatres and banquets: "conobbi dalla mia puerizia costumi de' cortigiani e la vita loro [ In Letter II , Boccaccio again presents himself as a victim.

Here, he wants to recount, probably to his dear friend Petrarch, a vision that he had in Naples when walking by Virgil's tomb. Opere, ed. To be sure, Boccaccio was not indifferent to the drama of the poor? I would say that such an interpretation betrays Boccaccio's sense of irony, which is, in Auerbach's words, "a type of medi- ate discourse, indirectly insinuating," and which, as in the Decameron, "tends to lower once again his realism to a stylistic level devoid of problems and conflicts" cf.

If realism is at stake here, it has to be taken into account that Boccaccio wrote this letter when he was fifty; that is, when he had already explored all the possibilities of realistic representation. His extensive use of irony in Letter XIII is evident in his depiction of the hut and the other peo- ple living in his unfortunate Naples lodging. Rea, however, is not Auerbach. The Neapolitan critic is mainly both- ered by the "letteratura dei piagnistei" "the literature of whining" , as he calls it, and strongly believes that behind those faces, those dripping noses, those livid faces, that unavoidable cough of people the same colour as sweating wax were the Neapolitan slums cf.

Letter XIII 24 , Boccaccio already shows "the sentimentality, the sanctimony, the miserable folklore, and natural dirt of people who generate compassion" "Boccaccio a Napoli" Not that he attributes any trace of sentimentality, pity, or compassion to Boccaccio; Rea does not make the same mistakes as later Neapolitan writers who obscured the truth of the Neapolitan psyche "Boccaccio a Napoli" Rea despises both his contem- poraries and their predecessors because they offer their readers a picture- postcard Naples.

Referring to the tale of Peronella, Rea says: Boccaccio, pragmatically, rendered a precise portrayal of the Neapolitans according to his practical, mercantilist imagination. He searched for their true cipher beyond their tears, their appearances, and their poverty, which may be just as deceitful as wealth itself. After Boccaccio, anything that was written about the complex world of the soul felt inescapably superficial and resulted in a literary tradition that represented Neapolitans not quite the way they were but the way they would have liked to be.

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A population that, in order to be recognised as Neapolitan, had to be Neapolitanised "Boccaccio a Napoli" Rea blames Di Giacomo for his "limite signorile" aristocratic limita- tions ; that is, his ability to look deeply into people's hearts, while disdain- ing "to descend into them and touch the good and the bad, orchestrating them as required by their powerful vulgarity. The poet, according to Rea, has no pretensions to realistic depic- tion.

He is indifferent to the social conditions of his own people. He rep- resents "their gestures, the facts. The same harsh judgment is reserved for De Filippo, who would help to discover the past of Naples, but not its future, and for the movie directors Vittorio De Sica and Francesco Rosi, the latter fot his film La sfida.

In the final analysis, Rea seems to recruit Boccaccio for his own battle for the re-evaluation of Naples. He wrote the most realistic Neapolitan story of a baffling actuality By this Rea does not refer only to such Neapolitan tales as Andreuccio and Peronella, but to the pillars that support most of Boccaccio's Neapolitan works. As I mentioned, Rea maintains that Boccaccio's narra- tive production is based on an ambivalence that stems from a double life that unfolds on two fronts, sometimes clearly separated, sometimes notnThis ambivalence expresses a frustration caused by the clash of reality with dreams and ideals, an opposition that, apparently, is typically Neapolitan.

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At this point, Rea's analysis appears especially unconvincing, since the division he offers is too sharp to represent plausibly Boccaccio's experience: on one side, courtly Naples; on the other, lower-class Naples. It is hard to detect in Boccaccio any real concern for the fate of the Neapolitan lower classes.

Remarkable, instead, is his youthful fascination with Robert of Anjou's court.

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  6. The Parthenopeian city remains the space where Boccaccio let the "questioni d'amore" unfold; that is, as in the Elegy of Fiammetta, the place of "lietissime feste abbondevole. In , Robert tried to ban tournaments because of their violence; the fact that they were still held reveals the persistence of chivalric ideals among the nobility. Tournaments are more a ludic and hedonistic event than violent fights in the style of the Old French epics Lee ; Caggese ; Librandi Introducing the tournament between Arcita and Palemone, who fight for Emilia's love, Teseo defines it as a "palestral gioco.

    Once Boccaccio left Naples, says Rea, he remembered of the city "only the human, visual, auditory part that he felt and fully experienced. This polyphony also characterizes Rea's essays and his last novel, Ninfa Plebea, which opens with a powerful image: II canto era come il vapore di una pentola pasta e fagioli che salisse da tutti i cortili. Their song was like steam from a pot of boiling pasta e fagioli in all courtyards.

    At first, toward sunset, it sounded like primitive voices emerging from violin strings and organ canes, sung by old or young women, babies or maids crouched down between the legs of the oldest, their grandmothers, aunties, mothers, cousins, friends.

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    Sometimes other narrators are included: "la vuoi sentire la storia di Catuccio e del barone Airola? Catuccio's tale occupies five pages of the novel. This confirms Rea's strong penchant for a choric narration and also his attempt to preserve the oral tradition of the story- telling. In an essay titled, "Voices," Rea says that the poetry of two of the most tepresentative Neapolitan poets, Di Giacomo and Viviani, "is interwoven with voices" Il Re e il lustrascarpe How evocative this image is of Spaccanapoli, a quarter of Naples! On the contrary, traces of the other' Naples can be identified in the paradigmatic image of the opening of Ninfa plebea as Rea himself offers it in the passage already quoted "un — 14 — 'Polypi ionic' Parthknopk vapore della pentola che sale da tutti i cortile.

    Sabatini rightly asserts that Boccaccio's Neapolitan heritage shows itself in the Decameron through the "warm participation" 1 5 of its characters in a tumultuous reality, but the same can be said of the Neapolitan works as well: Teseida, Filostrato, Filocolo, Caccia di Diana. One scene from the Teseida is particularly telling on the role of the compassionate crowd. Many Greek women join Emilia and Hippolyta in their grieving. In the same way, on the occasion of a tournament, the citizens and all the lovely ladies arrive and some offer prayers for one or another of the lovers.