Italian Literature

Boccaccio: The Decameron

John_William_Waterhouse_-_The_DecameronThe Decameron is a collection of stories by Giovanni Boccaccio, probably completed around 1353. It is set during the Black Death in Florence some years before, following a group of seven women and three men who flee the city for a deserted villa, passing the time by telling each other a series of tales over ten days.

This provides the occasion for a hundred stories, drawn from a variety of sources, in what would be one of the most influential uses of the frame-story device in Western literature.

The Decameron at Amazon

Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Decameron, translated by John Payne. Multiple formats.

Gutenberg: The Decameron, translated by J.M. Rigg. Vol. I | Vol II. Multiple formats.

Gutenberg: The Decameron, translated by John Florior. Vol. I. | Vol II. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Decameron (Chatto & Windus edition, 1922). Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: The Decameron, translation attributed to John Florio (1620). Multiple formats.

Wikisource: The Decameron. Payne (1886) and Rigg (1903) translations. HTML and other formats.

Italian texts

Letterature Italiana: Decameron. PDF format.

Libero: Decameron - HTML format.

Wikisource: Decameron - HTML and other formats.

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Ariosto: Orlando Furioso

Jean_Auguste_Dominique_Ingres_-_Roger_Delivering_AngelicaOrlando Furioso (English: The Rage of Roland) is an Italian epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto, published between 1516 and 1532. It is a contuation of Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato, and continues its adaptation of legendary matter from the Matter of France, recounting the sturggle between Charlemagne's paladins and the saracens.  It's popularity, and wide influence in European literature, largely eclipsed that of the earlier work.

Orlando Furioso at Amazon

Free online texts

English translations

Gutenberg: Orlando Furioso, translated by William Stewart Rose. Multiple formats.

Online Medieval and Classical Library (Internet Archive): Orlando Furioso. HTML format.

University of Adelaide: Orlando Furioso, translated by William Stewart Rose. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Orlando Furioso, translated by William Stewart Rose (currently incomplete). HTML and other formats.

Italian texts

Gutenberg: Orlando Furioso. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Orlando Furioso. Vol I | Vol II. | Vol. III. Multiple formats.

Libero: Orlando Furioso. HTML format.

Wikisource: Orlando Furioso. HTML and other formats.

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Torquato Tasso: Jerusalem Delivered

Charles_Errard _Renaud_abandonnant_ArmideJerusalem Delivered (Italian: Gerusalemme Liberata) by Torquato Tasso is an epic poem published in 1581, recounting a almost completely fictionalised version of the first crusade. One of the few quasi-historical characters is the knight Tancredi, who corresponds to the Italo-Norman crusader Tancred, Prince of Galilee.

The work enjoyed immediate and lasting success, in part because of its contemporary resonances at a time of conflict between Western European powers and the Ottoman Empire. It has frequently provided a subject for the visual arts and literary adaptations.

Jerusalem Delivered at Amazon

Free online texts

English translations

Gutenberg: Jerusalem Delivered, translated by Edward Fairfax (c.1635). Multiple formats. 

Internet Archive: Jerusalem Delivered, translated by Edward Fairfax. National Alumni edition. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Jerusalem Delivered, translated by J. H. Wiffen. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Jerusalem Delivered, translated by John Hoole. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: Jerusalem Delivered, translated by Edward Fairfax. Multiple formats.

Italian texts

Internet Archive: Gerusalemme Liberata. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Gerusalemme Liberata. HTML and other formats.

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Matteo Maria Boiardo: Orlando Innamorato

Orlando_innamoratoOrlando Innamorato (English: Orlando in Love) by Matteo Maria Boiardo is an incomplete epic poem publish in Italian between 1483 and 1495. It chronicles the adventures of Orlando, a romanticised version of legendary Carolingian hero Roland, and particularly his pursuit of the beautiful Angelica.

The work had a powerful influence on later Italian poets, notably Ariosto, who wrote the sequel Orlando Furioso, and Tasso, who borrowed elements for his Gerusalemme Liberata. Ariosto's success overshadowed Boiardo's original to such an extent that it was almost completely lost until its rediscovery in the nineteenth century.

Orlando Innamorato at Amazon

Free online texts

English translations

Gutenberg: Orlando Innamorato. Prose translation with poetic extracts by William Stewart Rose. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Orlando Innamorato. Prose translation with poetic extracts by William Stewart Rose. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: Orlando Innamorato. Prose translation with poetic extracts by William Stewart Rose. Multiple formats.

Italian texts

Gutenberg: Orlando Innamorato. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Orlando Innamorato. Multiple formats.

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Vico: The New Science

GiambattistaVicoThe New Science (Italian: La Scienza Nuova) is a work by the Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico, originally published in 1725 and expanded in several later editions. It provides a history of civil society, interpreted, in opposition to contemporary Cartesian rationalism, through the principle of verum factum that what has been made by humans can be understood by humans.

Vico's account of human progress and his insight into the difference between ancient and modern ways of thinking has led many to credit him with being the first true philosopher of history.

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Free online texts

Internet Archive: The New Science, translated by Thomas Goddard Bergin and Max Harodl Frisch (Cornell, 1948). Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Italian text. HTML and other formats.

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Machiavelli: Discourses on Livy

OrigenDeLaRepublicaRomana_CastoPlasenciaThe Discourses on the First Ten Book of Titus Livius, (Italian: Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio), often known simply as The Discourses, were written by Niccolo Machiavelli in the second decade of the sixteenth century, in the sme period as his most famous book, The Prince. In contrast to the monarchical concerns of that work, Machiavelli focuses in The Discourses on the political of republican government, through a commentary on Livy's account of the early history of Rome. Many scholars have argued that The Discourses provide a fuller picture of Machiavelli's political beliefs than The Prince.

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Free online texts

Biblioteca Philosophica: Discorsi sopra la Prima Deca Di Tito Livio. Italian text. HTML format.
Gutenberg: Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius, translated by Ninian Hill Thomson. Multiple formats. 
Internet Archive: Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio. Vol I | Vol II. Italian text. Multiple formats.
Internet Archive: The Prince and the Discourses. The Discourses translated by Christian E. Detmold. With an Introduction by Max Lerner. Modern Library (1940). Multiple formats.
Marxists.org: Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, translated by Christian Detmold (1882). HTML format.
Online Library of Liberty: Niccolo Machiavelli, The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 2 (The Prince, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, Thoughts of a Statesman). Translated by Christian Detmold. Multiple formats.
University of Adelaide: Discourses of Niccolo Machiavelli on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy. English translation. Multiple formats.
Wikisource: Italian text and English translation by Henry Neville. HTML and other formats.

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Machiavelli: The Prince

800px-Santi_di_Tito_-_Niccolo_Machiavelli's_portraitThe Prince (Italian: Il Principe) by Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), one of the most influential political texts ever written, was dedicated to Lorenzo II de Medici in the early sixteenth century, a time when Machiavelli's native Florence was teetering between monarchical and republican rule. The fact that Machiavelli worked on this manual of advice for monarchs at the same time as his fervently republican Discourses on Livy, suggests that his deepest interest may have been the institute of the state itself.

Although he was writing in a long tradition of 'mirrors for princes', Machavelli's ruthless pragmatism was a new departure which damned him in the eyes of many then and since, but which contributed to a tradition of political realism taken up by Hobbes among others. The emergence of modern elite theory from the late nineteenth century underlined his lasting influence on Italian political thought.

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Free online texts

Constitution Society: The Prince, translated by William Kenaz Marriott. HTML format.
Early Modern Texts: The Prince, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.
Feedbooks: The Prince, translated by Ninian Hill Thompson. EPUB, Kindle and PDF formats.
Gutenberg: The Prince, translated by William Kenaz Marriott. Multiple formats. 
Ibiblio.org: Il Principe, Italian text, edited by Sálvio Marcelo Soares (2009). PDF format.
Internet Archive: The Prince and the Discourses. The Prince translated by Luigi Ricci and revised by E.R.P. Vincent. With an Introduction by Max Lerner. Modern Library (1940). Multiple formats.
Marxists.org: The Prince, translated by W.K. Marriott. HTML format.
Online Library of Liberty: Niccolo Machiavelli, The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 2 (The Prince, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, Thoughts of a Statesman). Translated by Christian Detmold. Multiple formats.
The Prince Book Free. Marriott English translation and other languages. Multiple formats.
University of Adelaide: The Prince, translated by W.K. Marriott Multiple formats.
Wikisource: Italian text and multiple translations. HTML and other formats.

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Dante: The Divine Comedy

Domenico di Michelino, La Divina Commedia di Dante (Dante and the Divine Comedy). 1465 fresco, in the dome of the church of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. Wikipedia.The Divine Comedy (Italian: Divina Commedia) is a poem by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321). In three canticles; Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso, it describes Dante's progress on a mystic journey, through hell and purgatory, escorted by the poet Virgil, and through Heaven guided by Beatrice, an idealised portrait of the historical Florentine woman who was the object of Dante's unrequited love.

The poem is generally considered one of the central works of western literature. It gave profound expression of the medieval worldview, in an educated vernacular which would pave the way for renaissance humanism. Itself densely allusive, the work has inspired poets, painters and artists of all kinds ever since.

The Divine Comedy at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Danteonline.it: Commedia. Italian text. HTML format.

Dartmouth College: DanteLab - a customisable digital reader.

Gutenberg: The Divine Comedy, translated by H.F. Cary. Multiple formats.

Gutenberg: The Divine Comedy, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Multiple formats.

Gutenberg: The Divine Comedy, translated by Charles Eliot Norton. Vol I. Hell | Vol. II Purgatory | Vol III Paradise. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, translated by Henry F. Cary. Harvard Classics Edition. Multiple formats.

ItalianStudies.org: The Divine Comedy, translated by James Finn Cotter. HTML format.

Online Library of Liberty: The Divine Comedy, Italian text and English translation by Courtney Langdon. Multiple formats.

Poetry in Translation: The Divine Comedy, prose translation by A.S. Kline. Multiple formats.

Sacred Texts: The Divine Comedy -  Italian textEnglish translation by H.F. Cary (1888). TXT format.

University of Adelaide: The Divine Comedy - The Vision of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, translated by Henry Francis Cary; illustrated by Gustave Doré. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Divina Commedia - Italian text, multiple formats. Divine Comedy, translated by Longfellow. HTML and other formats.

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