4. Abstracts

Karina Attar

Towards a Literary Topography of the Novella in the Furioso

Focusing on narratological elements in tales of Christian-Muslim encounters in Boccaccio’s Decameron, Sercambi’s Novelle, Salernitano’s Novellino, and Firenzuola’s Ragionamenti, I propose to examine how Ariosto’s poem fragments, reconfigures, and customizes novelistic ingredients in order to appeal to a sixteenth-century reading public as avid for short prose storytelling as for romance epic, and as intrigued by domestic heroes, villains, and princesses as by those from distant lands. While critical editions and studies of the Furioso have identified many novellas that functioned as sources for specific episodes, this paper will explore the novella in the Furioso by engaging with theories and practices in the interdisciplinary fields of literary geography and geocriticism. As I hope to show, the eclectic, synthetic, diachronic methods of these emergent fields, as developed by scholars in a range of disciplines, can shed light on the Furioso’s cross-cultural fertilization of novelistic motifs, settings, and protagonists.


Luigi Ballerini

Ludovico Ariosto on Daggers, Swords and Arrows: An Illustrated Lecture

A brief analysis of Canto IX, (particularly of the stanzas concerning the Cimosco-Olimpia episode) will be followed by some remarks concerning the war industry at the court of Ferrara and the radical change introduced in the art of warfare by the appearance of firearms. Orlando’s praise of lance and sword are a perfect example of Ariosto’s irony which, in turn, reveal the true corroding agency of his alleged encomia of the House of Este. The laudatory topos is scrutinized by such authors as Giacomo Leopardi and Italo Svevo, resurfaces in the Milongas by Louis Borges and finally crashes in the propaganda of the Fascist Republic of Salò (1943-45).


Lina Bolzoni

The Visualization of Orlando furioso: From the Original Editions to Modern Video Art 

Orlando Furioso, published in 1516 (and later in 1521 and 1532), becomes very quickly a best seller, the first great classic of modernity. An important part of this success is due to the fact that almost at once the poem begins to be illustrated. In this presentation, I will show how the illustrated editions of the Orlando furioso attempt to condition its reception and the memory of the reader, while at the same time addressing the themes and the narrative structure of the text. I will also propose a brief DVD in which the images of an antique edition of the Furioso are rielaborated and re-read through the techniques of video-art.


Federica Caneparo

«Tutte piene le superbe mura / veggon di nobilissima pittura»: Ariosto’s Orlando furioso and Frescoes

While men of letters were debating about the status, the nature, and the legitimacy of
Ariosto’s poetical choices, artists, patrons of the arts and their advisors decided to have
stories of the Orlando furioso painted in their palaces and villas all along with episodes from Virgil’s Aeneid or Livy’s History of Rome. With no hesitation, they established that Ariosto’s poem was worthy of sharing the same space with the ancient Classics, therefore anticipating the result of a long theoretical debate. Traveling through space and time, from the Alps to Sicily, and from the 16th to the 18th century, this talk will examine a selection of such frescoes, investigating their iconography and meaning, their relation with printed illustrations, their place in the assessment of the figurative fortune of the poem, and their crucial role in the literary debate that canonized the Orlando furioso as a classic.


Jo Ann Cavallo

The Imaginative Space of the Furioso in Sicilian Puppet Theater

Ariosto’s imaginary world has been given tangible form for centuries not only in operatic, melodramatic, theatrical and, more recently, cinematic adaptations, but also in popular traditions such as the folk operas (“maggi epici”) of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. Yet no art form has devoted as sustained and elaborate attention to the Orlando Furioso as Sicilian puppet theater (“l’opera dei pupi”). Although we are past the time when Ariosto’s characters relived their adventures “a puntate” every evening in “teatrini” across Sicily and beyond, we can still encounter puppeteers who work to keep the traditional repertory alive and who use Ariosto’s stories as a viable vehicle to foreground pressing issues of our own time. This paper focuses in particular on the reimagining of the Furioso’s cross-cultural encounters by a number of contemporary puppet theater companies.


Daniela D’Eugenio

Ariosto 1516-1532 and Harington 1591: “Translation” of Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases in the Orlando furioso

In this paper, I consider “translation” in a dual perspective: a movement across different linguistic and stylistic codes (from the 1516 edition to the 1532 edition of the Orlando furioso) and a passage from one language to another (from the 1532 edition of the poem to 1591 Harington’s translation). This concept of translation allows analyzing the diachronic evolution of proverbs and proverbial expressions in a time span of seventy-five years and across three languages. Both in the 1516 and 1532 editions, Ariosto placed proverbs in strategic moments of the narration and, most of all, in specific sections of his octaves, namely the final couplet (Soletti, 142). This way, proverbs could stand out in the articulation of the metric scheme and their message could easily highlight or oppose the content expressed in the first six lines, converging the narrative energy into its moral, ironic, or parodic release at the end of the octave. In the first part of this paper, I compare and contrast the use of proverbs and proverbial expressions in the first and third editions of Ariosto’s chivalric poem. The linguistic and contextual analysis reveals stylistic differences between their proverbs, mostly concerning morphological nuances, as well as lexical and syntactical choices. When revising his poem after his second publication in 1521, Ariosto, other than making the language more Florentine, added proverbs and proverbial phrases, specifically in those octaves and cantos that were not present in the first two editions. In the second part of my paper, I investigate Harington’s translation of Ariosto’s poem. In his personal interpretation of the original text, Harington faced the issue of translating proverbs in English and adopted different methods in order to convey the same ironic or moralizing and sententious tone that characterizes the original cantos. When he does not eliminate a proverb, he either translates it in a literal way, renders it with an equivalent proverb or proverbial phrase in English, or substitutes it with a different expression, yet conveying the same message.


Alessandro Giammei

Ariosto and the Novecento

In the 500 years long story of Ariosto’s immense legacy in modern literatures and arts, a substantial chapter has been always skipped by historians and critics. Re-writings, illustrations, adaptations, and influences have been retraced and commented up until the chivalric enthusiasm of international Romanticism. Then, after World War II, the rise of postmodernity suggested new readings of the Orlando Furioso, which keeps on inspiring writers and film-makers also in the new millennium. But in between Goethe and Ronconi, before Calvino and after Böcklin, a less noticed, yet lively and articulate revival of Ariosto’s myth has secretly crossed the visual, literary, and political culture of modernism and of the so called return to order. This paper aims to reveal how Ariosto’s poetry shaped highly visible movements and trends of the early 20th century such as symbolism, metaphysical painting, magical realism, acmeism, and the second wave of Italian futurism. I will also discuss the ways in which Ariosto’s model was used by intellectuals to oppose totalitarianism, and I will show that fascist propaganda appropriated the Furioso to express local frondism and noncomplying cultural tendencies within the regime.


Wendy Heller

Olimpia Vendicata: Myth, Epic, and Ariostean Caprice in the Seicento Libretto

In the preface to the printed libretto for Olimpia vendicata (1681) first presented at the Teatro San Angelo in Venice with music by Domenico Freschi, librettist Aurelio Aureli underscored his apparent admiration for Ariosto. “Bireno’s betrayal in love of Olimpia was an invention of the famous Ariosto. The vengeance that she made against his treacherous lover is a ‘capriccio’ of my weak pen.” He then goes on to explain that since Ariosto gave him the title for his opera, he wished to imitate him by including an argomento in the form of an ottava at the beginning of each act. Aureli was thus not particularly interested in faithfully adopting a plot line from the Orlando furioso for the stage; rather, as a poet notable for his eclectic and capricious use of a variety of ancient sources, Aureli positioned himself as a modern day Ariosto, whose libretto —despite the conventional apologies for his “debole penna”— was intended to invoke the experience of reading Ariosto’s poem. Taking into account Olimpia vendicata and some other mid-seventeenth century operas with allusions to Ariosto, my paper explores how Aureli’s novel style of emulation and ornamentation served a different kind of aesthetic end, one that saw Orlando furioso as a stimulus to the imagination rather than a model that required faithful reproduction. In so doing, Aureli and his colleagues demonstrated the same flexible attitude toward Ariosto’s poem that sixteenth-century humanists such as Dolce and Anguillara had used in translating ancient texts into the vernacular.


Bettina R. Lerner

Ariosto and Popular French Romanticism

“Ariosto shaped my personality,” wrote Stendhal in chapter nine of his unfinished Vie de Henry Brulard, thus hinting at the generic instability that characterizes this semi-autobiographical work while also underscoring the privileged place that the author of Orlando Furioso occupied in the French romantic imagination. Ariosto, who Mme de Staël had earlier labeled “the best of Italy’s modern poets,” is indeed a recurring figure in Stendhal’s oeuvre: his traces appear in the Roman streets Stendhal memorialized in works like Promenades dans Rome, figures like Bradamante shadow his fictional characters and entire narrative segments of novels like La Chartreuse de Parme seem to draw explicitly (if parodically) on the poetic structures of Ariosto’s famous epic. Translated, adapted and plagiarized in France from as early as 1543, Ariosto was well known to the nineteenth-century lettered elite. He was also, however, a central figure in far more popular forms of French romanticism that catered to an altogether different kind of readership than Stendhal’s. In this paper, I re-examine the place that sixteenth-century Italian literature occupied in the broader literary field as it evolved in France during the first six decades of the nineteenth century. Focusing on Ariosto, with a brief look at Tasso as well, I intend to examine their enduring presence in the underside of popular French romanticism, from melodramas like Caigniez’s Richardet et Bradamante, to republican-leaning publications like Charles Blanc’s Almanach du Mois and published poems by worker poets including Agricol Perdiguier and Charles Poncy. I read Ariosto’s legendary place in popular literature not as the result of a “trickle-down” cultural politics but instead as constitutive of the strategic ways in which dominated groups of writers and readers established their collective voice in the public sphere by reappropriating canonical texts for their own ends. Looking beyond influence and intertextuality, this paper gestures toward a comparative paradigm that might shed light on popular artistic practices central, if now forgotten, to the Romantic period.


Dennis Looney

Ariosto and the Court

The image of the court defines and shapes Orlando Furioso from its beginning to its end. The fiction has it that the poet in the mode of cantastorie recites the poem to his patron in a courtly setting, varying the performance when necessary (8.29), asking permission to stop the recitation when it has gone on too long (14.134.7-8), or promising to provide more entertainment later (36.84.5-8). The fictional setting of the presentation is the court; the poem itself is full of references to courts; the poem was written by a man who first yearned to enter the world of the court but then later decided, on his own terms, to leave the court behind. To understand the Furioso one needs to understand Ariosto’s relation to the idea of the court in general and to the court of the Este in Ferrara in particular. In this paper, I will consider Ariosto’s early attempts at becoming a courtier, and his subsequent rejection of courtly life, with a brief consideration of the poet’s complex portrayal of courts and courtliness in the Furioso.


David Quint

The Battle of Roncevaux Will Not Take Place

Boiardo’s Orlando innamorato opened up the space of an indefinitely expandable prequel to the defeat and death of Orlando, betrayed by Gano (Ganelon), at the battle of Roncevaux, the quasi-apocalypotic end of the fictional Carolingian chivalric universe. At the same time, Boiardo projected the death of his own invented hero, Ruggiero, who would convert to Christianity, marry Bradamante, and, found the Este dynasty – and himself be killed through the treachery of Gano’s house. As he takes over Boiardo’s invention in the Orlando furioso, Ariosto rethinks this double strategy of the Innamorato – the deferral of disaster, the wager of  dynastic survival – in light of the Italian wars that intervened between the two poems, the real, historical catastrophe that, in retrospect, could not be postponed.  He places these issues at the center of the 1516 Furioso.


Eugenio Refini

Alcina’s Spell: Metamorphosis of the Enchantress

Possibly one of the most fortunate episodes of Ariosto’s Orlando furioso, the island of Alcina inspired a number of operatic adaptations. From Francesca Caccini’s La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola di Alcina (1625) to G.F. Händel’s Alcina (1735), the melodramatic twist that informed the musical afterlife of Ariosto’s enchantress proved particularly successful, providing the operatic stage with a long lasting prototype. Yet, the musical fortune of Alcina is not only about retelling Ruggiero’s successful getaway from her magic kingdom. By looking at three diverse case studies, this paper aims to explore some unexpected evocations of Alcina’s island that, in various ways, question the assumptions usually connected with the episode. What happens when other travellers arrive at Alcina’s? If they have read Ariosto, of course, they are aware of the dangers they are facing; otherwise, they risk falling prey to the sorceress, as suggested by the anonymous libretto for the cantata Don Chisciotte nella selva di Alcina (Siena, 1752) and Giovanni Bertati’s libretto for Giuseppe Gazzaninga’s L’isola di Alcina (1772). While both libretti reenact Alcina’s spell and defeat through irony and displacement, it is only with Barbara Willis Sweete’s camp pastiche The Sorceress (1993) that Alcina’s mistreatment is eventually avenged. By challenging both Ariosto’s original narrative and the operatic trope embodied by Händel’s adaptation, the director retells the story of Alcina and Ruggiero suggesting that the spell of the enchantress is indeed an ineludible one.


Joshua Reid

He Do the Orlando furioso in Different Voices: Ariosto’s Ventriloquizing Presence in English Translation

One of Ariosto’s signature narrative features in the Orlando furioso is the use of personae—such as the Inkeeper in Canto 28—to tell stories.  These narrator stand-ins allow for Ariosto to displace unsavory perspectives via narrative ventriloquism, where the teller is condemned while the scandalous tale is still allowed to be told.  This paper explores how English translators have adapted Ariosto’s use of narrative personae in their translations of the Orlando furioso, exploiting these voices in their translations for sociopolitical ends. In some instances, Ariosto himself becomes a ventriloquized presence in the translations, a source author persona who voices the translator’s projected misogynistic or salacious content.


Antonio Ricci

Men in Black: Collectors and Bibliographers of the Orlando furioso

Hundreds of editions of the Orlando furioso have been published since 1516 and countless copies survive in public and private collections around the world. Over the course of five centuries, this vast trove of books has inspired the desires and frustrations of bibliophiles, the commercial strategies of booksellers, and the ambitions and delusions of bibliographers. It has also attracted the attentions of a strange and sometimes disconcerting array of scholars and ideologues, ranging from Settecento erudites (typically clerics) to Fascist propagandists. The varied encounters between such historical agents and the books they pursued form a colourful narrative that is bound up with the larger fortunes of Ariosto’s poem. In my presentation, I will focus on some of the more emblematic moments in this story, including the birth of Furioso bibliography in Arcadia, the Ariosto centenary celebrations of 1933 in Ferrara, and a tale of redemption (at least of the bibliographic kind) that could have happened only in America.


Brian Richardson

The 1516 Edition of the Orlando furioso: The Opening

When Ariosto arranged to have his Orlando furioso printed in Ferrara in 1516, he took great care over the first impressions that his poem would make. In the opening pages of the edition, he juxtaposes elements that reflect his status as a courtier with others that represent him as an innovative author who aspired to creative independence. The edition is dedicated to his employer, Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, outside and within the text of the poem. Yet Ariosto gives prominence to the protection of his investment in publication through book-privileges, and he includes a personal emblem that suggests that authors meet with ingratitude. The typography of the edition reflects culturally significant choices made by Ariosto: roman types rather than the italic that his printer, Giovanni Mazzocchi, had used earlier for Francesco Cieco’s romance Mambriano, and resources that enhance the comprehensibility of the text for those reading it silently or aloud.


Melissa Swain

«Di donne e cavallier li antiqui amori, Le cortesie l’audaci imprese io canto»: Ruling Couples and Courtly Performance in the Orlando furioso

The opening lines of the 1516 edition of Ariosto’s Orlando furioso invite us to consider the bi-gendered construction of the poem itself, epitomized by the dueling male and female Este genealogies recounted in cantos 3 and 13, respectively. Canto 13 specifically presents the daughters and wives of the extended family alongside their spouses, crowned by the shining example of the poet’s contemporaries Isabella d’Este (1474-1539) and Francesco II Gonzaga (1466-1519), ruling couple of Mantua. Through their high-profile example, the Furioso presents a sociopolitical ideal of conjugal corulership whereby rulers and consorts are positioned as mutually reinforcing halves of a single ruling body. The combined male and female Este genealogies are critical to our understanding of how Ariosto represents the contemporary political phenomenon of spousal sovereignty through a mythologized dynastic framework. My paper will examine the text’s representation of conjugal corulership, and consider the political implications of this portrayal.


Jane Tylus

The Ends of Pilgrimage

With its rich and assorted meanings of “stranger,” “exotic,” “lovely” and “pilgrim,” the Italian word peregrino/pellegrino is central to understanding much of 16th century literature and culture. As it moves between aesthetic and religious registers, tracking the itinerary of the foreigner as well as of the spiritual traveler, of human beings as well as of objects and words, the term peregrino plays a decisively major role in Renaissance writing. What, however, might be its value for Ariosto – an Ariosto who hardly can be said to have written a poem about the armed pilgrimage that was the Crusade? And for critics who made careers out of comparing Italy’s two great Renaissance epic romances, Ariosto’s great advantage was that he refused to use the parole pellegrine or foreign words that made the Gerusalemme liberata such a difficult read. Hence, in the emerging nationalistic vocabularies of the late 16th-century academy, the Orlando furioso was more “Italian” than Tasso’s epic.  In thinking about issues of national vernaculars, national poems, and the presence or absence of the foreign, I will focus on Ariosto’s geographic and linguistic topographies with respect to the peregrino in all its significance. Ultimately, I suspect, and particularly in episodes from Canti 14-19 and the Cinque canti, Ariosto reveals an engagement with the dynamics of the “foreign” and with the process of pellegrinaggio itself in ways that anticipate Tasso more than not.


Sergio Zatti

Modernità di Ariosto

Afferma Hegel che gli eroi di Ariosto sono mossi dall’amore e dallo spirito d’avventura, e non da scopi comunitari. Più di recente è stato osservato che con l’Orlando furioso è la prima volta che il racconto in Occidente attribuisce tanto peso a personaggi che agiscono per passioni e fini privati (quello che diventerà il criterio dominante del romanzo moderno). Lo sfondo istituzionale della guerra di religione, con il sostanziale declino dei valori di contrapposizione collettiva, fornisce ad Ariosto non più che uno schema antagonistico dentro cui situare i conflitti del desiderio individuale. Desiderio e destino sono diventati una questione privata. Esseri che incrociano le vite degli altri, passioni individuali che si esaltano (e talvolta persino si generano) nel confronto e nel conflitto (e tutto avviene nel segno di una laica contingenza). Il primo effetto della immissione degli Amori nel mondo delle Armi è la trasformazione di un universo unito e solidale nel nome della fede cristiana e della fedeltà all’Imperatore in una polverizzazione di monadi che agiscono in modo egoistico e imprevedibile. L’importanza che ricevono i singoli oggetti del desiderio è direttamente proporzionale alla perdita di valore e rilevanza delle grandi Cause o Mete collettive (soprattutto dell’ipoteca religiosa). La privatizzazione delle quetes, l’individualizzazione dei destini, con la conseguente frammentazione pluralistica dell’Azione unitaria è la fondazione del ‘romanzesco’.