The GAM/DP Theory of Personality and Creativity
by: William A. Therivel, PhD
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-Mozart and not Salieri
-Personality Families
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-James Joyce - Fox
-Newton's Personality Styles
-Gifted and Talented
-GAM's Marginal Men
-GAM's Heidegger
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-Chinese Ethnopsychology
-Argentine Ethnopsychology
-Byzantium's Creativity
-Venice's Creativity
-Chaucer's Griselda
-Western Medicine's Origins
-Individual Growth by Thinking GxAxMxDP
 
William A. Therivel
-High Creativity Unmasked
-Studying Power
-Studying National Characters
-Studying National Creativity

The Griselda story by Boccaccio, Petrarch and Chaucer is discussed in
Therivel's GAM/DP Theory of Personality and Creativity.

Chaucer's Griselda

But Weren't Also the Classics at Fault?
On the Griselda by Boccaccio, Petrarch and Chaucer

The above is the title of chapter 2 of volume 2 of William A. Therivel's The GAM/DP Theory of Personality and Creativity (G stands for genetic endowment, A for assistances of youth, M for misfortunes of youth, DP for division of power, UP for unity of power). For an introduction to the GAM part of the theory click "Introduction to GAM"; for an introduction to the DP part click on "Introduction to DP".
In this website, the reader is also offered a shortcut: The GAM/DP Synopsis and an expanded version, The GAM/DP Summary of volumes 1 through 4.

The same story of Griselda was told first in Italian by Boccaccio, then in its Latin translation by Petrarch, and finally in the English version by Chaucer. Deserving praise, Chaucer-less shaped by the classics-took a position toward Griselda and her husband,, the Marquis, closer to Boccaccio's original version in Italian than to Petrarch's translation/version in Latin which, under the influence of the classical authors, became imperialist and antifeminist.

Hereafter, I report the table of contents and a few pages from this chapter.


This chapter is divided into the following sections:

     1. Introduction
     2. Griselda, and the Drawback of Petrarch's Classicism
     3. Petrarch, the Renaissance Courtier
     4. Widespread Machismo May Explain the Success of the Griselda Stories
     5. The Machismo of the Classics
     6. Was Petrarch's Classicism a Bad Influence on Boccaccio?
     7. Comments
     8. Post-Scriptum #1: Ibn Hazm, Béquer, and Petrarch
     9. Post-Scriptum #2: From DP Literature to UP Literature


2. Griselda and the Drawback of Petrarch's Classicism
In 1373, about twenty years after the completion of Decameron, Petrarch found among his papers a copy of Boccaccio's stories. "Looking into the manuscript, the old scholar discovered that they were written in prose and in Italian; so he examined them only cursorily, dipping into them here and there, but really reading with attention only the opening and the close of the work. The latter, containing the tale of Griselda, appealed to him immensely" (Severs, 1972, p. 7). He then decided to rewrite the tale in Latin and make it consonant with his classical thinking. Chaucer for "The Clerk's Tale" of his Canterbury Tales then used this new version.
     The Patrarchan version deserves to be contrasted with that by Boccaccio in order to highlight Petrarch's change of mentality brought on by his long and intense reading of the classics. While Boccaccio is still a communal man, Petrarch-especially in his version of Griselda-shows that he has become a humanist and Renaissance man. While Boccaccio is still a visitor, strongly opposed to the unity of power of kings and nobles, Petrarch has already adopted a number of insular points of view, among these (1) an admiration for the Roman imperial power; (2) a far less critical view of the aristocracy; and (3) a religious interpretation of the citizens' duty to be obedient and patient. (p. 48)


     Nowhere in Boccaccio does the Marquis come across so reasonable, understanding, and nearly friendly in his desire to have Griselda accept, on her own, the evil deed (i.e., adjusting her thinking to his).
     The Petrarchan Marquis won, and Griselda answered, "You are our lord, and this little daughter and I are yours. Do as you please, therefore, with what belongs to you" (ib. p. 661). But, again, nowhere in Boccaccio does Griselda anticipate the cruelty of the Marquis by "offering" the daughter: by saying-of her own initiative-that her daughter belongs to him.
     In the same direction, Petrarch makes the Marquis think something neither said nor hinted at by Boccaccio: "…had he not known that she loved her children very much, he could almost have suspected that this firmness in a woman proceeded from a certain savagery of heart (1992, p. 663, my italics). So, now the reader is invited to suspect that the obedience of Griselda is not praiseworthy, the result not of unbearable pressure but a certain savagery of heart. The limelight is adroitly moved away from the savagery of the Marquis toward a possible savagery of Griselda: Griselda should have refused to obey! In the end, Griselda came out vindicated, but also the Marquis's action was washed out: his doing was not anymore the matta bestialitade done by somebody piu degno di guarder porci che d'avere sopra altri signoria, but his probing of Griselda as a feminine Job. (pp. 51-52)

 
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