Master Metaphors

For example: in their introduction to the recent Lessico Critico Decameroniano, which they edited together, Renzo Bragantini and Pier Massimo Forni, without explicitly referring to the technical concept of hypertext, seem to imply, intentionally or unintentionally, that the complex architectural structure of the Decameron lends itself to an interpretive practice which, not by chance, finds in the language of hypertext a coherent description:

The various contributions to this volume, collected in a list of individual entries or lemmas, are to be seen as intertwined perspectives: true windows through which to gaze at the stratified conformation of Boccaccio's edifice. Their comprehensive effect is not hindered by the selective use of individual lemmas or a cross-section of them: each essay, though harmoniously belonging to the whole work, is also open to multiple combinations, according to the reader's need. The reader should not expect an exhaustive panorama (as in a minor Boccaccian encyclopedia, modeled after the example of the Dantean or Virgilean encyclopedias) but a somewhat essential and basic informational-interpretive web (Bragantini-Forni, 8).(1)

The implicit reference to a new theoretical framework, to a new set of metaphors, is unmistakable here. This characterization of interpretive practices is clearly modeled after a possible description of their object, the Decameron, as a complex edifice, a virtual architecture. The first "lemma" of the new Lessico is thus, not by chance, "Architettura," by Franco Fido. And yet, it is one thing, we believe, to modify and update the long-standing terminology of Decameron criticism according to the "jargon" of contemporary technology and theory (windows, webs, crossed perspectives, multiple combinations, etc.) in order to describe new interpretive practices necessarily influenced by the use of computers as research tools, and another entirely to conceptualize and apply the new technology to the teaching of the Decameron - thus, at least questioning the traditional hierarchy of teaching and scholarly research in literary studies. We say this at the outset, precisely because we are convinced that a new cross-fertilization of scholarly and communicative practices is within our reach thanks to the new technologies.

1. "I contributi, raccolti sotto singole voci o lemmi, sono predisposti come prospettive incrociate, vere e proprie finestre da cui mirare la conformazione stratificata dell'edificio boccaciano. L'effetto di insieme su cui il Lessico si basa non impedisce l'utilizzo dei lemmi singoli o raggruppati in segmenti: ogni saggio, pur armonizzandosi, a nostro avviso, nel complesso dell'opera, rimane così aperto a combinazioni plurime, secondo le necessità del lettore. Quest'ultimo non deve attendersi un panorama esaustivo (come se fosse di fronte a un'enciclopedia boccaciana minore, modellata su quella dantesca e virgiliana) ma invece una rete informativo-interpretativa di base in qualche modo essenziale."

(M. R.)

Other Pages in Literature: Boccaccio Online