an uninformed reading of Orlando Furioso

an uninformed reading of Orlando Furioso

Friday, June 3, 2011


For as long as I can keep it up, I'm going to read and summarize the epic poem Orlando Furioso (first published from 1516 to 1532) by Ludovico Ariosto, in an English translation by Barbara Reynolds (Penguin Classics).

I have no prior knowledge of the poem or of Renaissance romances in general, and I'm only slightly familiar with the legends it's derived from, so I'm coming to it fresh— too fresh really, since Ariosto did assume that his audience would recognize his references, so I'll be cribbing from Reynolds's introduction and endnotes as needed.

The book's two massive volumes were kindly foisted upon me by Russell Hoban; I had the honor of helping with some research on other things for his recent excellent novel Angelica Lost and Found, which borrows a few characters from Ariosto. It took me a while to dare to start reading the poem, but of course (as he told me it would be) it's turned out to be ten tons of fun. So I thought I'd try to share some of the experience as I go, which will also help me to keep track of what's going on.

It will take a while.

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