Although the focus of this essay is the novelletta delle papere, one of the shortest of the collection, I could not isolate this story from the other novellas without seriously compromising its meaning, its function, and its relation to the whole work. [ shall therefore brietly consider its affiliation with the tale that immediately precedes it, that of Rustico and Alibech (Dec. III, 10), and with some that follow it, particularly the novella of Tancredi and Ghismonda (IV, I). There remains one last point to make regarding the direction of this essay. The noveL-

Those who are familiar with Boccaccio's Decameron know that women play a prominent and instrumental role in his work, so much so that some critics have proclaimed that it is "the western world's first major feminist text"L and that "it represents the start ... of female emancipation."2 To be sure, Boccaccio's tales offer us a number of memorable paradigms of female virtue and intelligence: the Marchesana di Monferrato, Gostanza, Ghismunda, Madonna aretta, Madonna Filippa, and Griselda, to name a few. Surprisingly, however, relatively few critics have addressed this question of the role of women in Decameron, and no comprehensive study on this topic exists.