Prof. Waller Hastings
Northern State University
Aberdeen, SD 57401

Giovan Francisco Straparola
(ca. 1480-1558)

        Practically nothing is known of the life of Giovan Francisco Straparola, including what his real name might be - "Straparola" appears to be a pseudonym alluding to the author's verbosity.  He is believed to have been born in the village of Caravaggio, based on his self-identity, and he is associated in adulthood with the city of Venice.  Dates of birth and death are conjectural, and reflect the dates of publication of his works, and no one knows how he may have made his living or who he might be in "real life."  Nevertheless, he is credited with originating the literary fairy tale as a distinct form in his Le piacevoli nocci (variously translated as something like The Facetious (Delightful, Pleasant) Nights), a framed tale similar to Boccaccio's Decameron.  In this work, published between 1550 and 1553, a retired bishop retreats from political opponents to a small island, where he and his entourage entertain themselves by telling stories - 75 total, of which 14 may be identified as fairy tales.  Some of these come from folk sources - e.g., four resemble stories from the Arabian Nights and may either reflect Straparola's acquaintance with Oriental tales through Venetian trade, or borrowing from Straparola by the French translator of the Nights, Antoine Galland.  Straparola is credited with the first written version of the tale familiar to later readers as "Puss in Boots."
        Straparola's work attracted the attention of the official censors, who required the expurgation of various references that were critical of the Church but allowed the retention of some bawdy elements.

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        This page last updated on June 15, 2003.