Glynnis Fawkes

Artist: Glynnis Fawkes (US)

Title: Alatiel: The Seventh Tale on the Second Day

Medium/technique(s): Gouache on paper

Edition size: 1

Artist Statement: This particular story I chose initially because it is one of the few in the Decameron that mentions the island of Cyprus, where I spent nearly four years, and have published two books. A good friend in Cyprus (an artist herself and bookshop owner) told me about this Boccaccio festival and exhibition of artists’ books, and pointed me to this tale, which is partially set in the city of Paphos. The tale of Alatiel was immediately captivating in its Mediterranean settings and the tension between Boccaccio’s light-hearted attitude toward her adventures and the actuality of repeated rape and murder. It resonates with the story of Helen of Troy. Both are supremely beautiful women who travel eastward across the sea leaving a wake of smitten and dead men. There are even alternative ancient accounts that Helen went both to Cyprus and Egypt before Troy. Alatiel’s adventure, though covering similar territory and themes, is several thousand years after Helen’s, and is set on ‘repeat’: she encounters one man after the other who falls for her and kills his predecessor. But no ordinary men – only the best-looking of the nobility and royalty of such places as Majorca, the Morea, Athens, Constantinople, and Turkey. This fact, together with such comments as “Eventually, however, she responded to Constantine’s efforts at consoling her, and began, as on previous occasions, to derive pleasure from the fate that fortune has consigned her”, bring to mind a holiday party cruise as documented by a medieval Hello! magazine. Alatiel’s reunion with her father, the clever lie that she is still a virgin that saves her from shame, and her eventual marriage to the man she was supposed to marry – these all constitute a happy ending in the logic of the story. Alatiel’s tale resonates with me especially as a (once) young woman traveling through the same Mediterranean countries today.


2 responses

11 07 2013
Locating Boccacio - Medieval Histories

[…] Glynnis Fawkes […]

14 10 2013

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