Decameron
Giovanni Boccaccio, G.H. McWilliam (Editor)
Penguin Classics

Please allow me to make a pitch for Boccaccio's Decameron. Do not dismiss him as being too well known even though some tales such as "Putting the devil back into hell" are old chestnuts. There are 100 tales, some of which are obscure but still marvelous. [MI]
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The Book of Dede Korkut
Geoffrey Lewis (Translator)
Paperback - 213 pages
Penguin USA
ISBN: 0140442987

The Book of Dede Korkut is an epic written around the 10th century. It is the major work of Oghuz literature. The Oghuz were one of the major branches of the Turkish peoples. Better known as Turkomans, the name they acquired after their conversion to Islam, the Oghuz migrated farther west that most of the Turkish tribes to become eventually the Turks of Turkiye. Both Seljuks and the Ottomans were descendants of the Oghuz, as were the interim Ak-Koyunlu and Kara-Koyunlu dynasties.

The Book of Dede Korkut comprises a Prologue and twelve legends told largely in prose, but gilded with frequent passages of verse. A number of the adventures may sounds familiar. The Story of Basat features an one-eyed giant strongly eminiscent of one of Sinbad's adventures...I mean Ulysses'.. I mean Odysseus... These are stories of heroes and adventure, reminiscent in flavor of some of the better known Arabian Nights tales. My thanks to Countess Mara who loaned me this book many years ago. [AY]
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Deuteronomistic History
The Deuteronomistic History is the name for the section of the Bible between the books of Deuteronomy and 2 Kings. These books, which tell the story of Israel from the end of the Exodus to the fall of Jerusalem, are equally rich in stories that aren't as well known. Much of this history (which was originally written as a unit) deals with issues of war, royal succession, and the conflict between strong leaders. The characters here (Samuel, David, Solomon, and Elijah, to name a few) are rich and detailed, and the plots clear. A couple hours of reading this part of the Bible will turn up a number of stories that people don't know. [AF]


The Diamond Tree: Jewish Tales from Around the World
Howard Schwartz and Barbara Rush
Harpercollins Juvenille Books

This is not quite as focused as some books, but the sources are noted, with additional research notes in the back in case you'd like to track down original versions. Both authors have other books of tales as well. This particular one can be found in the juvenile literature section of Waldenbooks or on Amazon.com for about $4. [Q]
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The Disciplina Clericalis of Petrus Alfonsi
Eberhard Hermes (Translator)
London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977

A collection of stories and aphorisms collected in the 12th century by a Spanish converso who had travelled widely in the Muslim and Christian worlds. Despite the title, the book is not a collection of pious stories; most of the stories have very worldly themes about marriage, adultery, court life, and material gain. The collection is particularly interesting because it is perhaps the first collection of stories from the Muslim world published in a European language. Many of the stories are set in Egypt and the Near East, and the "story within a story" structure of The Thousand Nights and a Night is much in evidence. There are about 30 stories in the collection, some of which are linked together into a longer episode by short collections of sayings on a particular topic. [AF]

Dolopathos or The King and the Seven Wise Men
Johannes de Alta Silva, Brady B. Gilleland (Translator)
Center for Medieval & Renaissance Text & Studies
Binghamton, New York, 1981
ISBN 0-86698-001-6 (cloth)
ISBN 0-86698-006-7 (paper)

Johannes de Alta Silva was a Cistercian monk who lived in the monastery of Haute Seille. Dolopathos, his only surviving work, was written sometime between 1184 and 1212. The story is made up of a frame story containing a series of seven tales. The frame story itself is a dud, but the seven tales are worthwhile. A list of contents follows:

The Dog; The Treasure; The Old Man; The Creditor (which is a very early "pound of flesh" tale); The Son of the Widow; The Sons of the Bandit (made up of two stories, Polyphemus and The Witches); The Swans; and The Well. There is some overlap with two other period sources: The Seven Sages of Rome (which also contains The Dog, The Treasure, and The Well), and the Book of Sindebar (which also contains The Dog).

These stories are so interesting to me because they have a fairy tale feel -- the supernatural is present and accepted without comment, and the antagonist is often a woman who is deceitful or even downright evil. One of the stories, The Swans, reminds me in some of its elements of the Brothers Grimm story The Six Swans, except that it's a lot uglier. [AoF]

Interesting; I wonder if Dolopathos was the inspiration for the Seven Sages of Rome. The structure sounds similar, as does the fact that most of the stories feature women as the antagonists. --AY
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Poems of Joachim Du Bellay
Les Regrets et Autres Ouvres Poetiques
M.A. Screech (Editor)
Librairie Droz, 1966

Add to your list of Renaissance poets of the name of Joachim Du Bellay, a Frenchman who spent four years at the Vatican and later wrote "Les Regrets", wonderful verses on love and papal politics...some tender, some snide. Good for a short piece sprinkled with just a little background commentary. [MI]
Buy The Works of Joachim Du Bellay (bilingual edition)
 
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