Short summary - IL Corbaccio or The Crow - Giovanni Boccaccio

Italy literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - IL Corbaccio or The Crow
Giovanni Boccaccio

The title of the work is symbolic: a raven is a bird that pecks out the eyes and brain, that is, it blinds and deprives the mind. We learn about such love from the story of the protagonist.

So, the rejected lover has a dream. He finds himself alone in a gloomy valley at night and meets a spirit there who warns him that the entrance to this valley is open to everyone who is attracted here by voluptuousness and recklessness, but leaving here is not easy, this will require both reason and courage. Our hero is interested in the name of such an unusual place in which he found himself, and hears in response: there are several options for the name of this valley - the Labyrinth of Love, the Enchanted Valley, the Pigsty of Venus; and the inhabitants of these places are the unfortunate ones who once belonged to the Court of Love, but were rejected by her and exiled here in exile. The spirit promises to help the lover to get out of the labyrinth if he is frank with him and tells the story of his love. We learn the following.

A few months before the events described, our hero, a forty-year-old philosopher, a fine connoisseur and connoisseur of poetry, was talking with his friend. We are talking about outstanding women. At first, the heroines of antiquity were mentioned, then the interlocutors moved on to contemporaries. A friend began to praise a lady he knew, listing her virtues, and while he was ranting, our narrator thought to himself: "Happy is he to whom a favorable Fortune will give the love of such a perfect lady." Having secretly decided to try his luck in this field, he began to ask what her name was, what rank she was, where she lives, and he received exhaustive answers to all questions. After parting with a friend, the hero immediately goes to where he hopes to meet her. Blinded by the beauty of the one about which he had only heard before, the philosopher realizes that he has fallen into the network of love, and decides to confess his feeling. He writes a letter and receives a reply note, the essence and form of which leave no doubt that his friend, who so ardently praised the natural mind and exquisite eloquence of a stranger, is either deceived by them himself, or wants to deceive our hero. However, the flame that raged in the lover’s chest did not go out at all from this, he understands that the purpose of the note is to push him to new letters, which he immediately writes. But the answer - neither written nor oral - never received.

The surprised spirit interrupts the narrator: “If things didn’t go any further, why did you burst into tears yesterday and call for death with such deep sorrow?” The unfortunate man replies that two reasons brought him to the brink of despair. Firstly, he realized how stupidly he behaved, believing right away that a woman could have such high virtues, and, entangled in the networks of love, gave her freedom and subjugated her mind, and without this his soul became a slave. Secondly, the deceived lover was disappointed in his beloved when he learned that she revealed his love to others, and for this he considered her the most cruel and insidious of women. She showed one of her many lovers the letters of our hero, mocking him as a cuckold. The lover spread gossip throughout Florence, and soon the unfortunate philosopher became the laughing stock of the city. The Spirit listened attentively and in response presented his point of view. “I understood well,” he said, “how and with whom you fell in love and what led you to such despair. And now I will name two circumstances that can be reproached with you: your age and your occupation. They were supposed to teach you discretion and warn against love temptations. You should know that love dries up the soul, leads the mind astray, takes away the memory, destroys the abilities. I experienced it all myself,” he continued. “My second wife, having mastered the art of deceit well, entered my house disguised as a meek dove, but soon turned into a snake. Ruthlessly oppressing my relatives, running almost all my affairs and seizing income, she brought into the house not peace and tranquility, but discord and misfortune. One day, unexpectedly, I saw her lover in our house and realized that, alas, he was not the only one. Every day I had to endure more and more from this whore, who did not care about my reproaches, and so much torment and torment accumulated in my heart that it could not stand it. This treacherous woman rejoiced at my death; she settled near the church to hide away from prying eyes, and gave vent to her insatiable lust. Here is a portrait of the one you were in love with. It so happened that I visited your world just the night after you wrote your first letter to your lady. It was past midnight when I went into the bedroom and saw her having fun with her lover. She read the letter aloud, mocking your every word. That's how this wise lady made fun of you with her half-witted lover. But you must understand that this woman is no exception among others. All of them are full of deceit, a passionate desire to rule overwhelms them, no one can be compared in spite and suspicion with the female sex. And now I want you to take revenge on this unworthy woman for the offense, which will benefit both you and her."

The shocked hero tries to find out why the spirit of this particular person, whom he never knew during his lifetime, responded to his suffering. The spirit answers this question: “The guilt for which I was ordered to condemn you for your own good lies partly on me, since this woman was once mine, and no one could know all her ins and outs and tell you about it in such a way, like me. That's why I've come to treat you for your illness."

The hero woke up, began to think about what he saw and heard, and decided to part forever with destructive love.