The historical importance of the work, then, lies, not only in its painting of contemporary life, but also in its lively presentation of the individualism, the versatility, and the Paganism of the late Renaissance; its intrinsic value is proved by an almost unique and widespread popularity from among so much Italian literature of the sixteenth century that is forgotten or known only to specialists. Benvenuto has succeeded in transfusing it with the magnetism of his own personality. So intimate is the manner which he adopts that we seem to be, not readers, but a company of boon companions listening to good tales, half the attraction of which is afforded by the very force and charm of the speaker’s genial character. The matter is often such as should be bruited only in this society; the style is distinctly that of an easy conversationalist, full of picturesque Tuscan idioms, colloquial to the last degree, frequently lapsing into the loose grammar that is permitted to the raconteur. Behind this apparent facility, however, is concealed the art of a supreme master of narrative, who knows how to choose the piquant episodes and details and to exclude the irrelevant; who dexterously avoids monotony by contrasts of high lights and shadows; who is all the greater because he nowhere reveals the methods of his craft, but appears always the clever and spontaneous entertainer.

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