Ludovico Ariosto Harvard University Press, 2018 Library of Congress PA8125.I6A75 2018 | Dewey Decimal 871.04
Ludovico Ariosto (1474–1533), one of Italy’s greatest poets, was a leading figure of sixteenth-century Italian humanism. After some years working in the household of Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, to whom he dedicated his dazzling romance epic Orlando Furioso (1516), Ariosto settled in Ferrara under the patronage of Ippolito’s brother Alfonso. He continued to write throughout his life, publishing 214 letters, five plays, seven satires in verse, and dozens of lyric poems in Italian and Latin. Ariosto’s Latin poems, translated into English for the first time in this volume, are remarkable for their erudition, technical virtuosity, and playfulness. This edition provides a new Latin text, the first to be based on a collation of the autograph manuscript and editio princeps, and offers a unique insight into the Latin formation of one of the Renaissance’s foremost vernacular writers.
The appearance of David R. Slavitt’s translation of Orlando Furioso (“Mad Orlando”), one of the great literary achievements of the Italian Renaissance, is a publishing event. With this lively new verse translation, Slavitt introduces readers to Ariosto’s now neglected masterpiece—a poem whose impact on Western literature can scarcely be exaggerated. It was a major influence on Spenser’s Faerie Queene. William Shakespeare borrowed one of its plots. Voltaire called it the equal of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and Don Quixote combined. More recently, Italo Calvino drew inspiration from it. Borges was a fan. Now, through translations of generous selections from this longest of all major European poems, Slavitt brings the poem to life in ways previous translators have not.At the heart of Ariosto’s romance are Orlando’s unrequited love for the pagan princess Angelica and his jealous rage when she elopes. The action takes place against a besieged Paris, as Charlemagne and his Christian paladins defend the city against the Saracen king. The poem, however, obeys no geography or rules but its own, as the story moves by whim from Japan to the Hebrides to the moon; it includes such imaginary creatures as the hippogriff and a sea monster called the orc.Orlando Furioso is Dante’s medieval universe turned upside down and made comic. Characterized by satire, parody, and irony, the poem celebrates a new humanistic Renaissance conception of man in an utterly fantastical world. Slavitt’s translation captures the energy, comedy, and great fun of Ariosto’s Italian.