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'Thus she was decapitated, and this was the end to which she was brought by her unbridled lusts.'
For over two centuries after Boccaccio's groundbreaking Decameron
, the Italian novella exercised a crucial influence over European prose fiction. With thirty-nine stories by nineteen authors, many translated for the first time, this anthology presents tales from the whole genre and period. Here we meet a rich cast of humble peasants and shrewd craftsmen, frustrated wives, libidinous friars, ill-fated lovers, and vengeful nobles. These works had a considerable impact in English, and the selection includes tales that have provided sources for Chaucer, Shakespeare, Webster, Marston, Dryden, Byron and Keats.
The typical novella
is situated in a precise time and place and features people who either existed historically or are presumed to have done so. The subject-matter, whether ribald or sentimental, comic or tragic, often reflects the social and economic conditions of its age and thus the novella
has been seen as a crucial stage in the development of fictional realism and the emergence of the novel