Tales from the Decameron. [Manuscript Book].
(n. p.): John Paul, Jr., 1927. 34 x 23 cm. ,  (one plate included in pagination) + 3 plates. Misnumbered pagination: 1-31, 33-35, with 33 on the verso of 31. Total of four ink and watercolor illustrated plates, plus illustrated title page. Red leather binding, heavily rubbed and scuffed to edges, spine leather mostly perished, joints exposed. Still firmly bound, however, with no splitting to the hinges or gutters. Occasional minor soiling or smudging to margins and endpapers; short tear to fore-edge of one leaf. Very Good.
Unique book of four erotic tales from the Decameron, lettered, illustrated and bound by hand by the author, stated as such and with a further notice that it is the only copy. Although one tale is abridged, and noted thus in the text, the rest appear to be complete, and include: Day IV, Second Tale, "Fra Alberto giveth a lady to believe that the angel Gabriel is enamored of her"; Day VII, Ninth Tale, "Lydia, Wife of Nicostratus, Loveth Pyrrus"; Day III, Tenth Tale, "Alibech, Turning Hermit"; and Day IX, Tenth Tale, "Dom Gianni, at the Instance of his gossip, Pietro...". The text is drawn from John Payne's translation. The illustrations appear to be original, and are well done, if amateur; the lettering is neat and highly legible.
An interesting 20th-century artist's interpretation of select tales from the Medieval classic, that subtly reworks the original text -- the tales have been divorced from the framing device of being a story told among plague escapees over the course of 12 days, and instead, are presented as humorous, erotic vignettes -- and highlights the role of women as willing and eager sexual partners, perhaps in reference to the changing sexual mores of the 1920s. Each of the chosen tales relies heavily on themes of deception, credulity, and sexual ignorance, usually (but not always) on the part of the woman, but even when women are the ones being deceived, they are shown as having a healthy appetite for sex. Moreover, by removing the framing device, which allowed Boccaccio to insert moral commentary, the author of this book allows sex, and women's role in it, to be perceived as pleasurable and desirable to both parties.
Unfortunately, nothing is known about the author, about whom it is unclear if "John Paul" is his entire name or merely his first and middle names. Provenance: from Northern California, within the trade.