With the beginning of the Nineteenth Century came the Romanticists, Manzoni, Foscolo and the rest. These were poets and novelists, to whom the Novela meant very little. Their influence extended far into the century, and only with the advent of the naturalist Verga was there a return to the short story. And then it had no relation whatsoever to the art practised by Boccaccio. With Verga, De Amicis, Serao, Fogazzaro, and D’Annunzio, we are in the midst of the modern European literary movement.
The notation “no title in the original,” made in several instances after the notes on Boccaccio, Ser Giovanni, Sacchetti, Masuccio, Bandello, Firenzuola, Grazzini, Cinthio, and Gozzi, means that the title given in this collection is furnished by the editors. The Italian editions usually offer a lengthy synopsis of the story.
The Bell of Atri (Anonymous: 13th or 14th Century)
The Hundred Ancient Tales is a collection of short stories containing the earliest e
Gabriele D’annunzio (1863-1938)
D’annunzio was born at Pescara in the Abruzzi in 1863. His first literary work was a volume of verses, published when he was only sixteen. His first novel appeared in 1889, and he afterwards became famous also as a poet and dramatist. His short stories, of which he wrote a number, are memorable pictures of the half-savage peasant- folk in the mountains of his native district. He excelled in the description of vivid landscapes, and in the delineation of elemental types on the one hand, and of decadent overcivilized moderns on the other.
The present version is translated by Louis Lozowick. It appeared originally in the Pagan magazine, and is here reprinted by permission of the editor.
The big banners of St. Gonselvo, brought upon the square, floated heavily in the wind. Men of herculean stature, with faces flushed and necks strained, carried them gingerly.
After the victory over the peop
The Marquis then turned towards the old woman, observing, “Since it is clear that the money is none of his, but mine, and you have had the good luck to find it, pray keep it: the whole is your own; present it as a wedding-gift to your daughter. If it should happen that you meet with another purse, containing the ducats as well as the crowns, belonging to this gentleman, I beg you will return it to him without demanding any reward.”
Gratitude to the Marquis
The poor lady expressed her gratitude to the Marquis for this generous mark of his favor, and promised to observe his directions in everything. The wretched merchant, finding that the Marquis had truly penetrated into his motives, and that there was not a chance of succeeding in. his nefarious design, declared that he was now quite willing to pay the reward he had promised, if she restored the remaining money, which was indisputably his own. But it was now too late.
The Marquis turning toward
The old lady appeared extremely confused at this accusation, exclaiming in a distressed tone to the Marquis, “Oh, signor, can that be possible? Is it likely I should have stolen thirty- four ducats, when I had it in my power to possess myself of the whole? No; believe me, noble signor, I swear, as I value my hopes of heaven, that I have restored the exact sum which I found on my return from church; not a single farthing have I taken out.”
But the miserly old wretch continuing to affirm most solemnly that the ducats were in the same bag with the crowns, and that she must consider them as a sufficient remuneration, the affair seemed to perplex the Marquis not a little. Yet when he reflected that the old miser had only mentioned the four hundred crowns in the first instance, he began to suspect his design of imposing upon the poor woman in order to save the paltry sum offered as a reward.
The Marquis felt the utmost indignat
With great courtesy the Marquis acceded to this request, expressing himself at the same time concerned to witness the excessive affliction under which the unfortunate Filargiro seemed to labor. The reward was accordingly proclaimed, and the gold- soon afterwards made its appearance in the hands of one of those aged old ladies, who, being great devotees, always walk with their eyes upon the ground as they come from church. In this way she discovered the lost treasure, and fearful lest her conscience should be loaded with such a weight of gold, though extremely poor, she would have been very greatly perplexed in what way to act, had she not luckily heard the crier announcing the reward of forty crowns, which she hoped she might receive with a safe conscience.
Observing her destitute appearance, the Marquis very humanely inquired whether she had any means of procuring her subsistence, and whether she had no one to assist her. “I have nothing,
Giovanbattista Giraldi Cinthio (1504-1573)
Cinthio is another of the famous Italian story-tellers to whom Shakespeare is indebted for a good plot: the story of Othello was lifted from the collection called the Hecatommithi. Cinthio is best known for his gruesome subjects and the violence of his methods of treatment. Of noble birth, he spent the greater part of his life in a secretarial position at the court of Ferrara. As critic, dramatist and novelist, he is one of the important figures in the literature of his country.
Original plots are rare, and The Greek Merchant can claim no other originality than that of treatment. But is that not enough? Like most of the Italian tales we have included, it is gracefully turned, and maintains its interest up to the last moment.
The present version is translated by Thomas Roscoe, and reprinted from his Italian Novelists, London, no date. The story has no title in the original.
The Greek Merchant
Yes, by the blood of a goose, answered the Porter, I am content. Seiny Jhon the Fool, finding that the Cook and Porter had compromised the determination of their variance and debate to the discretion of his award and arbitrament; after that the reasons on either side whereupon was grounded the mutual fierceness of their brawling jar had been to the full displayed and laid open before him, commanded the Porter to draw out of the fab of his belt a piece of money, if he had it.
Whereupon the Porter immediately without delay, in reverence to the authority of such a judicious umpire, put the tenth part of a silver Phillip into his hand. This little Phillip Seiny Jhon took, then set it on his left shoulder, to try by feeling if it was of a sufficient weight; after that, laying it on the palm of his hand he made it ring and tingle, to understand by the ear if it was of a good alloy in the metal whereof it was composed:
Thereafter he put it to the ball or apple of his
The Roast-meat Seller
At Paris, in the Roast-meat Cookery of the Petit Chastelet, before the cook-shop of one of the roast-meat sellers of that lane, a certain hungry porter was eating his bread, after he had by parcels kept it awhile above the reek and steam of a fat goose on the spit, turning at a great fire, and found it so besmoaked with the vapor, to be savory; which the Cook observing, took no notice, till after having ravined his Penny Loaf, whereof no Morsel has been unsmoakified, he was about discamping and going away; but by your leave, as the Fellow thought to have departed thence shot-free, the Master-Cook laid hold upon him by the Gorget, demanded payment for the smoak of his roast- meat.
The Porter answered, that he had sustained no loss at all; that by what he had done there was no diminution made of the flesh, that he had taken nothing of his, and that therefore he was not indebted to him in anything: As for the smoak in question, that, altho
Then he opened a grammar and read us our lesson. I was amazed to see how well I understood it. All he said seemed so easy, so easy! I think, too, that I had never listened so carefully, and that he had never explained everything with so much patience. It seemed almost as if the poor man wanted to give us all he knew before going away, and to put it all into our heads at one stroke.
After the grammar, we had a lesson in writing. That day M. Hamel had new copies for us, written in a beautiful round hand: France, Alsace, France, Alsace. They looked like little flags floating everywhere in the school-room, hung from the rod at the top of our desks.
You ought to have seen how every one set to work, and how quiet it was! The only sound was the scratching of the pens over the paper. Once some beetles flew in; but nobody paid any attention to them, not even the littlest ones, who worked right on tracing their fish-hooks, as if that was French, too. On the roof the pigeo
Poor man! It was in honor of this last lesson that he had put on his fine Sunday clothes, and now I understood why the old men of the village were sitting there in the back of the room. It was because they were sorry, too, that they had not gone to school more. It was their way of thanking our master for his forty years of faithful service and of showing their respect for the country that was theirs no more.
While I was thinking of all this, I heard my name called. It was my turn to recite. What would I not have, given to be able to say that dreadful rule for the participle all through, very loud and clear, and without one mistake? But I got mixed up on the first words and stood there, holding on to my desk, my heart beating, and not daring to look up. I heard M. Hamel say to me:
“I won’t scold you, little Franz; you must feel bad enough. See how it is! Every day we have said to ourselves: ‘Bah! I’ve plenty of time. I’ll learn