Printed Popular Narratives until 1600. Authorship and Adaptation in the Dutch and English Griseldis

Rita Schlusemann


Among the seven popular narratives with a widespread European printed tradition until 1600 (Septem sapientum, Quatre fils Aymon, Melusine, Floire et Blanchefleur, Apollonius and Paris et Vienne), Griseldis is the one which was printed mostly. The story of the patient and constant Griseldis was first told by Giovanni Boccaccio as the last of his one hundred stories in Il Decamerone (1349–53) and translated into vernaculars all over Europe. The paper presents a detailed survey of the printed Griseldis tradition in four languages and shows that in the Dutch and English language areas from the beginning of printing until 1600, in Dutch the editions of Griseldis were published anonymously by the printer publishers who regarded themselves as transmitters of a famous and fixed story. The English tradition, however, is characterized by numerous versions written by different (famous) authors who obviously felt the need and saw the chances to adapt the story to different genres and to rewrite it according to their own desires and purposes.


Griseldis; Boccaccio; translation; popular narratives; early modern

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