Enrica Zanin

My research deals with the ethical value of fiction in early modern Europe, focusing on a genre whose morality was highly controversial: the collections of novellas imitated from Boccaccio’s Decameron. Indeed, the Decameron, which was considered immoral and licentious, is stored in the Ethica section of the library of Wolfenbüttel.  This classification shows that the connection between narrative and ethics is complex, and that it changes through time. In Boccaccio’s time, novellas could teach, as well as be pleasurable – this is at least what Boccaccio himself claims. But later readers condemn them as immoral and irreligious, and 16th century collections are supposedly either pleasant and lascivious (Le Piacevoli Notti, Straparola) or moral and didactic (Histoires tragiques, Rosset). By examining the way novellas were reedited, translated, censored or annotated by later editors and readers, I wish to understand how the meanings and scopes of narrative fiction evolve over time, adapting to a changing ideological and poetical context.