The graduate students in Italian Studies are proud to announce the fourth year of “Masterpiece of Italian Literature @ Penn,” a graduate-led group that aims to read literary texts that have played a pivotal role in global literature.
This year we will read Lo Cunto de li Cunti, a collection of 50 fairy tales written by Giambattista Basile and published in Naples between 1634 and 1636. The work, also known as Pentamerone (five days), comprises 50 fairy tales told by ten storytellers in 5 days. The 50 fairy tales are placed in a frame that follows the model of Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron, even if the language used is very different and the themes treated are also different. The author dedicated Lo cunto de li cunti to the members of the Neapolitan Academy of Oziosi.
The work has the characteristics of a medieval novel, which, however transforms by orienting itself towards fairytale tones and drawing on popular motifs. Despite the fairytale material and the subtitle, the collection is intended for an adult audience as it deals with complex themes.