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# Boccaccio‘s donnée is of an upper-class milieu where girls and young m

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Boccaccio‘s donnée is of an upper-class milieu where girls and young m  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 23 Oct 2019, 09:50
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New Project RC Butler 2019 - Practice 2 RC Passages Everyday
Passage # 406, Date: 22-Oct-2019
This post is a part of New Project RC Butler 2019. Click here for Details

Boccaccio‘s donnée is of an upper-class milieu where girls and young men can meet socially at ease and move—thanks to wealth—out of plaguestricken Florence. In fact, it daringly reverses the standard form of morality, well summed up nearly contemporaneously by Traini‘s famous Triumph of Death fresco in the Campo Santo at Pisa. There, an upperclass, amorous, hedonistic group of young people is depicted as doomed to die. Boccaccio‘s group consists very much of stylish survivors.

The code of behaviour they assume and also promulgate is impressively liberal, civilized and un-prudish. Seven girls who have met by chance at Mass at Santa Maria Novella plan their adventure and then co-opt three young men who happen to enter the church. The three are already known to them, but it is the girls who take the initiative, in a tactful, well-bred way, making it clear from the start that this is no invitation to rape. One has only to try to imagine Victorian girl in fiction or in fact—behaving with such a degree of sophistication to see that society by no means advances century by century. Boccaccio is a highly complex personality who, like many another writer, may have felt that his most famous work was not his best. But the Decameron became famous early on, and was avidly read and frequently translated throughout Europe.

The Decameron is a thoroughly Florentine book and a thoroughly social one, down to its structure. After the poetry of the Divine Comedy, it is very much prose, in every way. It glories in being undidactic, entertaining and openly—though by no means totally—scabrous. Eventually it shocked and frightened its creator, who thus unwittingly or not recognized the force of its literary power. He repented and turned moralist and academic, leaving Florence for the small Tuscan town of Certaldo where he had probably been born and where in 1375 he died.

Part of his religious repentance was perhaps expressed by commissioning two altarpieces (sadly, not extant) for a local church. Whatever the medievalism enshrined in the Divine Comedy, the Decameron speaks for a robustly changed, relaxed vision, one set firmly upon earth. It is the opposite of lonely and ecstatic. It is a vision closer to that of Canterbury Tales than to the spiritual one of Piers Plowman.

It has female protagonists who seem mundane if not precisely modern compared with the real women mystics and saints of central Italy of a few generations before, women whose fierce, intense, sometimeshorrifyingly palpable and semi-erotic visions read like real-life cantos from Dante‘s poem. No doubt Boccaccio has idealized a little, but he puts forward a calm, sane case for freedom and humour and good manners between the sexes which, however palely, foreshadows the Shakespearean world of Beatrice and Benedick.

The theme of the stories his group exchange is human behaviour—often as it is manifested under the pressure of lust or love. But the group is also shown indulging in chess and music and dancing (even bathing though separated by sex). The ladies frequently laugh and occasionallyblush, while never losing their self-possession and their implicit command of the situation.

That the diversions of the Decameron are set brightly against the gruesome darkness of the Black Death is effective and also realistic. The plague is seen working psychologically as well as physically, horribly corrupting manners and morals, in addition to destroying life. Diversion and escape seem not frivolous but prudent, especially when provided by a pleasantly sited, well-stocked villa outside Florence, with amenities that extend to agreeable pictures in its rooms.

1. Which of the following statements best summarizes the author‘s opinion in the passage regarding Boccaccio‘s view of his own work?

A. Boccaccio held more regard for the Decameron than for his later works.
B. Boccaccio was later dismayed but nonetheless convinced by the literary power of the Decameron.
C. Boccaccio felt that Dante was a literary figure worthy of high regard.
D. Boccaccio was heartened that the Decameron was avidly read and translated.
E. Boccaccio was overly critical of his own work

2. According to the author, the Decameron differs markedly from its Italian predecessor The Divine Comedy. From the information presented in the passage, which of the following statements can the reader NOT assume about The Divine Comedy?

A. It is written in poetic verse.
B. It is set in Florence.
C. It is written in a didactic style.
D. It has a tendency to be tedious.
E. It was actually not humorous in content

3. The contrast of Boccaccio‘s heroines to Victorian girls is noted in paragraph 2 to support all of the following conclusions EXCEPT:

A. an age of liberalism of thought and action went into decline with the Victorian era.
B. society advances in a logical progression from century to century.
C. Boccaccio‘s heroines display a seemingly anachronistic amount of courage and practicality.
D. the Decameron’s sophisticated interaction between the sexes foreshadowed that of Shakespeare‘s plays.
E. advances in society can happen in a random manner

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Originally posted by GmatWizard on 20 Oct 2018, 23:21.
Last edited by SajjadAhmad on 23 Oct 2019, 09:50, edited 1 time in total.
Updated - Complete topic (1089).
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Re: Boccaccio‘s donnée is of an upper-class milieu where girls and young m  [#permalink]

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20 Oct 2018, 23:23

Topic and Scope

- The author discusses Boccaccio‘s Decameron and its relevance to
changes in the literature and society of the time.

Mapping the Passage

¶1 describes the characters in the book as embodying a liberal code of behaviour.
¶2 introduces the Boccaccio and his ―most famous‖ work, the Decameron argues that
different ages can either progress or regress from earlier ones and provides examples
of other ages that compare to and contrast with Boccaccio‘s.
¶3 describes the book as principally being a Florentine and social book and describes
Boccaccio‘s reaction to his own book.
¶s4 and 5 describe the book as a more natural and less spiritual book than the Divine
Comedy.
¶6 argues that the focus of the book is human behaviour rather than abstraction.
¶7 uses the plagues of the time to show that the book is realistic rather than
idealistic.
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Re: Boccaccio‘s donnée is of an upper-class milieu where girls and young m  [#permalink]

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20 Oct 2018, 23:24

Answers and Explanations

1)

Review ¶3 to get a prediction to this question. The author says that Boccaccio
recognized the power of his own book and was horrified by it. (B) says the same.
(A): Out of Scope. Though this isn‘t mentioned in the passage, if Boccaccio
repented writing the Decameron, it would be safe to assume he preferred
whatever he wrote later.
(B): The correct answer
(C): Faulty Use of Detail. The author mentions in several points that Boccaccio did
believe this, but this doesn‘t answer the question of what he thought of his
own work.
(D): Out of Scope. This isn‘t mentioned in the passage, though it can be inferred
that Boccaccio would have been unhappy about this also, since he didn‘t like
the Decameron.
(E): Out of scope.

2)

The question gives hints as to how to figure out the answer to this question: If the
Divine Comedy differs greatly from the Decameron, look for an answer choice that
describes a quality the Decameron possesses. (B) fits, and there‘s no evidence in
the passage that the Divine Comedy is set in Florence anyhow.
(A): Opposite. The author says in ¶3 that the Divine Comedy has this quality.
(B): The correct answer(C): Opposite. This can be inferred from the contrast to Dante‘s work in ¶s 3 and 4.
(D): Opposite. As above, the author describes the Decameron in contrast to
Dante‘s work as being ―entertaining,‖ and so it‘s safe to infer that the Divine
Comedy wasn‘t.
(E): Opposite. This can be concluded from the passage.

3)

Go back to the passage to review the author‘s point in using the Victorian example.
The overall idea is that the Victorian era marked a regression to morals more
restrictive than the ones that Boccaccio describes. All the choices support this
except for (B), which directly contradicts the author‘s point in ¶2 that society
doesn’t necessarily progress.
(A): Opposite. This is suggested by the author‘s description of more restrictive
morality in ¶2.
(B): The correct answer
(C): Opposite. This reinforces the idea that Boccaccio‘s characters were unusual for
their time, a point reinforced by the reference to the morals of the Victorian
era.
(D): Opposite. The author mentions this in ¶2 as a contrast to Victorian habits and
morals.
(E): Opposite. This can be inferred from the information in the passage.

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Re: Boccaccio‘s donnée is of an upper-class milieu where girls and young m  [#permalink]

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23 Oct 2019, 09:51
+1 Kudos to posts containing answer explanation of all questions
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Boccaccio‘s donnée is of an upper-class milieu where girls and young m  [#permalink]

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23 Oct 2019, 18:27
How long should it take for such a passage???
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Re: Boccaccio‘s donnée is of an upper-class milieu where girls and young m  [#permalink]

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23 Oct 2019, 22:14
LidiiaShchichko wrote:
How long should it take for such a passage???

6-7 Minutes is a good time as the passage is lengthy and contains only three questions.
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Re: Boccaccio‘s donnée is of an upper-class milieu where girls and young m   [#permalink] 23 Oct 2019, 22:14

# Boccaccio‘s donnée is of an upper-class milieu where girls and young m

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