The Decameron Project, 2020
A COVID-TIMES RESPONSE TO THE DECAMERON
The time of Covid is not the time of The Decameron -- or so we at CWC dearly hoped when we gathered (virtually over Zoom) for our annual Clockhouse Writer's Conference & Retreat. In the midst of our own time's pandemic, though, we did look back with some recognition and a growing sense of foreboding, at The Decameron’s documentation of its plague-time horrors.
Boccaccio’s plague lasted from 1346 to 1353 -- a horrific seven years -- and the death toll in his beloved Florence was perhaps three of every five inhabitants. Nonetheless, Boccaccio, surveying the plague’s death toll on his city, and the near death of civility, culture and the common good in Florence, created fictional characters who sought story-telling relief. The Decameron not only survived the plague in its own right, but influenced other well-loved works such as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and own own age's filmmakers.
We tookThe Decameron as a sign of cheer and hope in our own time of closed theaters, shuttered movie houses, locked museums, and canceled public celebrations of new writing: If the plague didn't ultimately destroy the shared cultural life of Florence,then Covid-19 shouldn't permanently destroy shared life in our time.
And so, learning from the lesson of The Decameron's creation, deciding to take its echo one step further, and in an attempt to offer our own Covid-time response, we all started our own pandemic-time stories during the 2020 CWC&R. Scroll below, and you'll find links to them: Some that are printed in full here, and others that have now appeared in various literary journals. We hope that by the time you read these, we'll all be gathering in person once again!