Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Decameron--the deca- is ten as in decade, as in decimal.

Ten good-looking young people, an equal number of men and women, get together in a mansion and gorgeous garden and beautiful grounds outside of town to tell each other stories. Each of the ten people tells ten stories.

They've left town because the plague is on. In or out of town, a big percentage of them will die.

So they leave town and tell each other stories in a luxurious environment. Many of the stories are about sex. The ones that aren't about sex are often about extreme acts of generosity.

Under thirty folk are often very interested in sex and in extreme acts of generosity. When army recruiters on the phone or religious groups on the street offer opportunities for extreme generosity, X number of late teen and early twenty young people are going to go for it. Sex doesn't need recruiters.

When material about sex was not generally available, The Decameron was a famous dirty book. One of the stories in The Decameron wasn't translated into English until the early twentieth century, four centuries after it was written. The other stories were translated much earlier.

For a long time, the idea of what would be good to assign teenagers in the way of old stories to read would be something short with a simple plot and no sex.


"Julius Caesar" by Shakespeare has only one plot, unusual in Shakespeare and no sex, also unusual. So a teenager would care about this tale of struggles among the ruling clique because of why.

"Silas Marner" by George Eliot used to be a popular assignment. It's short but seems much longer than it is. Silas Marner is a mean miser and opens his heart, sort of, to a orphan child partly because her hair reminds me of gold. A different George Eliot book that is much longer deals with a type of extreme generosity that teenagers are suseptible to--throwing their life away on someone who fits some idea they have a a good person to get who in fact is a drag on a moment to moment year to year basis. Dorothea goes for her idea of a good man, and it's a big mistake.