I don’t particularly enjoy the study of medieval literature, but there are elements I prefer. I enjoy reading parts with suspense, mystery, and adventure, and I get frustrated with foolish characters or predictable plots. Medieval literature in general, seems to me to be low-quality. Theological documents may not have poor writing, but I also tend to disagree with a lot of Catholic opinions.
Giovani Boccaccio wrote the Decameron, a collection of 100 stories within one overall story. The book opens with an introduction to the Black Plague, the content of the first chapter. In fact, this section is one of the most important source documents for the history of the Black Plague. Bocaccio described the plague in chillingly real terms – the death and isolation caused waves of change that would ripple on for years. In his writing, Boccaccio is passionate, descriptive, and specific. As a historical document, it is anything but boring to read.
The second part of the book contains stories that Boccaccio made up or copied down. Boccaccio’s plot involved ten young people telling a story each for two days. The stories that the characters told were honestly, not interesting to me at all. Some could have been made into a thrilling novel, but Boccaccio obviously did not have that talent of grabbing the reader’s attention when making up stories. Sticking to dramatizing history would have been a better pursuit for him.
However, in his stories, Boccaccio was continually seeking to emphasize one point – that the church was insufficient, incompetent, and hypocritical. I think that, to him, getting his point across was more important than trying to make his writing good, lovely, pure, cohesive, interesting, thought-provoking, and deep. He focused more on the concepts of chance and fortune, airy-fairy plots, unrealistic choices, and, in general, he did not spend long enough on the individual events of a story or dramatize them at all.
In conclusion, I believe that Boccaccio wrote in a clearer, more interesting, and more dramatic fashion when he wrote on actual events.