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This early sixteenth century poem is a wonderful reading experience: some claim it to be at the pinnacle of Italian Renaissance literature and I would not disagree. It certainly is an epic: 46 cantos of varying numbers of stanzas written in ottava rima(a stanza of eight lines, in iambic pentameter, rhyming abababcc) resulting in a poem of 38,728 lines. Barbara Reynolds translation maintains the poetic rhyming scheme and it flows along so beautifully that the reader can easily get so lost in the sheer enjoyment of the reading that the length of the poem does not become an issue. It is longer than the Illiad and the Odyssey together and it was 26 years in the making with the first results published in 1516 and was an instant success. There has been critical disagreement over the main themes of the poem and Reynolds in her excellent introduction claims them to be chivalry, war and love, but my first impression is that the overarching theme is one of love and the human condition. It is a narrative based on a war between the Christians and the Saracens some time in the chivalric past. Each side has it's heroes and heroines (the female warriors are just as skilled and fierce as the men) who fight and love throughout the poem with a number of set pieces such as: the siege of Paris, the madness of Orlando, the infighting in the Saracen camp, Astolfo's trip to the moon, the final duels to the death between the Saracen and Christian champions and then the resolution of the love affair between Ruggiero and Bradamante. However there are so many stories within stories that the sheer variety will keep most readers amused; there are bawdy tales, moral tales, magic realism, fantasy stories, and some of the most brutal battle scenes all interwoven to provide a tapestry that is both rich and human. This is the poem that signals the real break from the medieval literature of the past. Although one of it's major themes is chivalry it is couched in a realism that speaks volumes to the modern reader, as the thoughts fears and emotions of the characters come vividly alive. Gone are the lists of characters and the obsession with pedantic heraldry to be replaced with real story telling. Ariosto was a student of human nature and he takes time out in many of the opening stanzas of the canto's to expound on a particular theme, The fickleness of men in love for example: Be on your guard against those in the flower Of ardent youth, whose amorous desires Blaze up and die away in a brief hour, Just as burning straw at once expires, The hunter, chasing hares, will gladly scour The Land, up hill, down dale, through brakes and briars, In cold and heat, but, once a hare is caught, He chases others, for this caring naught. There is much more condensed philosophy; on honour, jealousy, loyalty, hypocrisy, love, the treatment of women and they have a ring of truth about them so that we can identify with Ariosto's thoughts. A poem that features magic swords, magic rings of invisibility, hippographs (winged horse) a shield that renders enemies unconscious, a magic horn that frightens people into submission and monsters on land and in the seas is rich in the fantasy tradition. It is all due to the art of Ariosto that he can weave these fantasy elements into the sometimes brutal realism of battle scenes and the tragedy of love and death that makes this poem such a joy to read. Astolfo's trip to the moon is a case in point; a chariot piloted by St John Evangelist takes Astolfo on his journey where he meets the inhabitants of the moon who are guardians of the wits of men and women who are insane on earth. they are guardians of many other things that have been lost on earth and are also involved in weaving a sort of tapestry of lives and the fates of human kind. All fantastical stuff but interwoven into the story because here Astolfo recovers the wits of the insane Orlando (he has been driven to insanity by unrequited love) There is much irony in Ariosto's writing perhaps the supreme example is to name his poem Orlando Furioso, when although Orlando is one...
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Orlando Furioso, translated in two parts by Barabara Reynolds, is a sprawling work. A romance of the Renaissance period (first published in 1516 but written over 25 years), it covers the chivalrous and not-so chivalrous deeds of a huge cast of characters. The themes of the book are love, war and chivalry although one suspects Ariosto, the author, might have just enjoyed telling a good yarn, one tale leading to another in a vast jumble which, while not entirely undirected, only moves gradually towards a rather dimly seen goal. Ariosto picks up from Boiardo's Orlando Innamoratto and assumes the reader has some knowledge of that poem, alluding tangentially to it throughout the work. The basic plot revolves around Charlemagne's defense of France from the Saracens, although, for most of the book, this is just back story. The siege of Paris is described in detail as are several smaller engagements - although their veracity is questionable - but primarily the story follows a panoply of characters through numerous quests, conflicts and magical interludes. The tales are drawn from many sources, contemporary to the time as well as historical and mythical. The Greek myths, in particular are woven throughout, although often gloriously unrecognizable. The tale jumps around the world - literally, as characters fly and sail from Europe to Africa, Asia and the newly discovered North America. Even the moon is a destination. The characters range from the well known Orlando (Roland of the Charlemagne legend) and Charlemagne himself, to lesser known lights of the time drawn from other romances. The Saracens and Christians are treated almost equally - at times you have to refer to the dramatis personae to figure out which side an individual is on - and there is very even-handed treatment of both sides. Ariosto also has a rather advanced, for his time, view of women, casting several as military heroes every bit the equal of men and giving almost all of his female characters strong, independent roles. No fainting wall-flower princesses here. Even the modern Disney princess pales in comparison to the fierce Marfisa (Saracen and female and a knight) and the magnificent force that is Bradamante. The male characters are also headstrong, proud to a fault and seem more like rutting mountain goats at times, than men. They display few weaknesses, and are always ready for a challenge. The complicated plot seems designed to pit each of the heroes against each other in a complicated play-off scheme worthy of college football. The tale ranges from brutal to poetic with scenes of beauty, nobility, cruelty and violence juxtaposed in close succession. The occasional bawdy interlude lightens the mood occasionally but this is no Decameron. The emphasis here is on chivalry and nobility of heart. Comparisons with Tasso are inevitable but probably unfair. Tasso's work is a much tighter, uniform work which reads more like a modern novel. Ariosto's work, in my opinion, belongs to a different genera entirely, consisting, as it does, of a loosely woven set of tales, held together by the slenderest of threads. Tasso and Ariosto each have their own particular charm but should not be ranked against each other. Repeated encomiums for the house of Este, Ariosto's patrons, cloud the narrative somewhat. The fawning praise and false histories do, however, weave the thing into a whole, providing an overarching theme (the union of Ruggiero and Bradamante) which is otherwise somewhat lacking. The madness of Orlando, which lends the poem its title is really only one of many threads in the tale. This version of the poem, translated as it is into 4000 octavo stanzas, is remarkably readable. The translation manages to retain a noble air, not sounding forced, in spite of rhyming lines and fixed form. The end notes are long enough to aid the reading and short enough to avoid snowing the reader under with useless details. Many pertain to Ariosto's use of historical figures and places of his own time. The two books of Reynold's translation each have an introduction. The first...
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Orlando Furioso by Lodovico Ariosto - Project Gutenberg
Download the free ebook: Orlando Furioso by Lodovico Ariosto.
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Orlando Furioso - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Orlando Furioso ("The Frenzy of Orlando", more literally "Orlando Mad"; in Italian furioso is seldom capitalized) is an Italian romantic epic by Ludovico ...
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Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto
Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto with annotations advancing emotional literacy education from the Encyclopedia of the Self.
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Research Orlando Furioso at the Questia.com online library.
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Orlando Furioso by Lodovico Ariosto
Read classic literature including Orlando Furioso by Lodovico Ariosto at 4literature.net.
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JSTOR: Ariosto and Boiardo: The Origins of Orlando Furioso
BOOK REVIEWS ARIOSTO AND BOIARDO: THE ORIGINS OF ORLANDO FURIOSO. By pv Marinelli. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1987. 247 p. ...
§11. "Orlando Furioso". XI. The Poetry of Spenser. Vol. 3 ...
Not only did he transform many characters in Orlando Furioso, such as Atlante, Alcina, Bradamante, into his own Archimago, Duessa and Britomart, ...
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Internet Archive: Details: ORLANDO FURIOSO
ORLANDO FURIOSO. ORLANDO FURIOSO. Author: LUDOVICO ARIOSTO Book Contributor: Universal Digital Library ... Title, ORLANDO FURIOSO. Creator, LUDOVICO ARIOSTO ...
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