Women and the Making of Poetry in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso
Overlooked for centuries, the Furioso's declared interest in 'le donne' is, by now, fully recognised. What continues to baffle critics is the poem's double-edged treatment of the subject, since conflicting views of women represent one of its characteristic features. This book tackles that narrative ambivalence by reading the poem both on the level of thematics and poetics. In so doing, it offers a more complex understanding of Ariosto's contribution to the Renaissance debate about women. Mac Carthy follows, in a series of case studies, the poem's enquiry into women's place in society, their behaviour, education, sexuality and relations with men. Throughout she proceeds along a double line of enquiry, using Ariosto's poetic craft to shed light on his treatment of women and vice versa. Her book also situates Ariosto's women in relation to their predecessors and contemporaries in literary and non-literary texts. By these means, it offers valuable insights both into the Furioso's female characters and into the poem's complex transactions with its cultural and literary frame.
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