With The Ethical Dimension of the "Decameron" Marilyn Migiel, author of A Rhetoric of the "Decameron" (winner of the MLA's 2004 Marraro Prize), returns to Giovanni Boccaccio's masterpiece, this time to focus on the dialogue about ethical choices that the Decameron creates with us and that we, as individuals and as groups, create with the Decameron. Maintaining that we can examine this dialogue to gain insights into our values, our biases and our decision-making processes, Migiel offers a view of the Decameron as sticky and thorny. According to Migiel, the Decameron catches us as we move through it, obligating us to reveal ourselves, inviting us to reflect on how we form our assessments, and calling upon us to be mindful of our responsibility to judge patiently and carefully. Migiel's focus remains unabashedly on the experience of readers, on the meanings they find in the Decameron, and on the ideological assumptions they have about the way that a literary text such as the Decameron works. She offers that, rather than thinking about the Decameron as "teaching" readers, we should think about it "testing" them.
Throughout, Migiel engages in the masterful in-depth rhetorical analyses, delivered in lively and readable prose, that are her trademark. Whether she is examining the Italian of the Decameron, translations of the Italian into English, commentaries by scholars, newspaper articles, or student essays, she asks us always to maintain an ethical engagement with the words of others.