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Orlando furioso opera completa di Ludovico Ariosto in versione integrale lettura agevolata in formato ebook

30 review for Orlando furioso di Ludovico Ariosto in ebook

  1. 4 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Perhaps it speaks more to the age I live in than that of the author, but I'm always surprised to find a reasonable, rational mind on the other end of the pen. Though Ariosto's unusual work is full of prejudice and idealism, it is constantly shifting, so that now one side seems right, and now the other. His use of hyperbole and oxymoron prefigures the great metaphysical poets, and like them, these are tools of his rhetoric and satire. Every knight is 'undefeatable', every woman 'shames all others Perhaps it speaks more to the age I live in than that of the author, but I'm always surprised to find a reasonable, rational mind on the other end of the pen. Though Ariosto's unusual work is full of prejudice and idealism, it is constantly shifting, so that now one side seems right, and now the other. His use of hyperbole and oxymoron prefigures the great metaphysical poets, and like them, these are tools of his rhetoric and satire. Every knight is 'undefeatable', every woman 'shames all others by her virtue', and it does not escape Ariosto that making all of them remarkable only makes more obvious the fact that none of them are. Ariosto's style flies on wings, lilting here and there, darting, soaring. He makes extensive use of metafiction, both addressing the audience by means of a semi-fictionalized narrator and by philosophical explorations of the art of poetry itself, and the nature of the poet and his patron. As with most epics, Ariosto's asides to the greatness of his patron are as jarring as any 30-second spot. His relationship to his various patrons was extremely difficult for him--he was paid a mere pittance and constantly drawn away from his writing to deliver bad news to the pope (if you're thinking that's a bad job, Ariosto would agree--the See nearly had him killed). This is likely the reason that these moments of praise fall to the same unbelievable hyperbole as the rest. His patrons could hardly be angry at him for constantly praising them, but his readers will surely be able to recognize that his greatest compliments are the most backhanded, and merely serve to throw into stark contrast the hypocrisy of man--tell me a man is great once, and I will believe you, tell me five times, and I'll start to think you're covering for something. Since we will all be oblivious hypocrites at some point (for most of us, nearly all the time), the only useful defense is finding the humility to admit our flaws. Great men never have it so easy: they cannot accept their mistakes, but must instead be buried by them. Though Ariosto often lands on the side of the Christians, his Muslims are mighty, honorable, well-spoken, and just as (un)reasonable in their faith. The only thing which seems to separate the two sides is their petty squabbling. Likewise, he takes a surprisingly liberal view of sex and gender equality, with lady knights who are not only the match for any man, but who need no marriage to make them whole--they are women with or without a man beside them. He even presents homosexuality amongst both sexes, though with a rather light hand. His epic is not the stalwartly serious sort--like Homer, Virgil, or Dante--Ariosto is a humanist, and has none of the fetters of nationalism or religious idealism to keep him chained. His view of man is a contrary, shifting, absurd thing. The greatest achievements of man are great only in the eyes of man. By showing both sides of a conflict, by supporting each in turn, Ariosto creates a space for the author to inhabit. He is not tied to some system of beliefs, but to observation, to recognition--not to the ostensible truth of humanity, but to our continuing story. Ariosto took a great leap from Petrarch's self-awareness: while Petrarch constantly searched and argued in his poems, he found a sublime comfort in the grand unknown. Ariosto is the great iconoclast, not only asking why of the most obvious conflicts, but of the grandest assumptions. The universal mystery is only as sacred as it is profane. Ariosto is also funny, surprising, and highly imaginative. Though his work is defined by its philosophical view, this view is developed slowly and carefully. It is never stated outright, but is rather the medium of the story: a thin, elegant skein which draws together all characters and conflicts. The surface of the story itself is a light-hearted, impossible comedy. It is no more impossible than the grand heights of any other epic, but only seems so because it is not girt tightly with high-minded seriousness. Perhaps Ariosto's greatest gift is that he is doing essentially the same thing all the other epic authors do, the same situations and characters, but he makes you laugh to see it. To be able to look at life simply as it is and laugh is the only freedom we will ever know. It is all wisdom. For this gift, I hail fair Ariosto: the greatest of all epicists, all poets, all writers, all wits, all humanists, all men--never to be surpassed.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lizzy

    I read Orlando Furioso many years ago, but I still remember the good feeling as I went through Ludovico Ariosto's pages. A fantastic and unusual parody of chivalry. “Nature made him, and then broke the mold.” “Ah, how I rue that what I could have done I did not do!” Highly recommended! ___

  3. 5 out of 5

    Fionnuala

    In this sixteenth year of the twenty-first century, and only just a few days ago, a tree fell in my garden. I didn't see the tree fall but the tremendous thump as it hit the ground, and the shocked silence of the birds afterwards, caused me to drop the book I was reading and run to see if a giant wasn't attacking my house. There was no giant of course - only the weeping willow, roots in the air, branches bent to the ground, bowing towards the sun. A moving sight. The book I was reading when the wi In this sixteenth year of the twenty-first century, and only just a few days ago, a tree fell in my garden. I didn't see the tree fall but the tremendous thump as it hit the ground, and the shocked silence of the birds afterwards, caused me to drop the book I was reading and run to see if a giant wasn't attacking my house. There was no giant of course - only the weeping willow, roots in the air, branches bent to the ground, bowing towards the sun. A moving sight. The book I was reading when the willow bowed out was Italo Calvino’s twentieth century abridged version of Ludovico Ariosto’s sixteenth century saga, Orlando Furioso, which is a continuation of Mateo Boiardo's fifteenth century unfinished work, Orlando Innamorato, itself based on the legends surrounding the christian knights of Charlemagne’s eight century French court and King Arthur’s fifth century kingdom, who variously possess the armour and attributes of Trojan heroes from the second century before our era. So this book offers the reader quite a trip through time as Ariosto cites events across the centuries, often connecting the episodes of his saga to current happenings in sixteenth century Italy eight centuries after Orlando’s time, as well as to events in Troy more than eight centuries before. The book also takes the reader across the ‘mappemonde’ of the known world, from Cathay to Iceland via India and Africa. Not only is Ariosto's story peopled with characters from all of those places but some of the heroes get to travel to such exciting locations as the moon and even heaven itself. They travel in ships and by air, thanks to a magical hippogriff, and on horses born already saddled and bridled. But all the travel depends ultimately on the power of Ariosto’s very creative quill and his penchant for using metaphor. He makes us believe that the medieval world resembled nothing so much as a giant chess board. I would like to have been able to read Ariosto’s poem in Italian instead of in a prose translation but the version I read was so entertainingly abridged by Italo Calvino, and so perfectly complimented by nineteenth century Gustave Doré's Illustrations for "Orlando Furioso", that the reading was a truly memorable experience. It's true that sometimes I wanted Calvino to restrict himself to commentary and not summarise every episode, but at other times, because of the number of characters and the similarity of their many adventures, I was grateful for his neat summaries, though I’d have preferred his summaries and commentary to follow Ariosto’s texts rather than to precede them. But as I've said, Calvino was so funny at times that I forgave him a lot. To give an example: in Ariosto's text there's a passage where the Saracen knight Ruggiero hears his lover's name mentioned. Ariosto launches into a long description of how Ruggiero's face displayed all the shades with which the dawn colours the morning sky or words to that effect. Calvino simply says: Ruggiero went as red as a field of tomatoes. In any case, due to this ‘double telling’ of the episodes in Ariosto's poem, I had plenty of leisure to notice the many themes that inspired Cervantes in the seventeenth century to continue Ariosto’s satire of knights rescuing damsels in distress, and to ponder the complicated rules of chivalry in general. There were so many parallels, including the main character losing his wits, that I almost regretted not having read this book before I met Don Quixote, but my motto is ‘Nullus ploratio’. Of the many characters in Orlando Furioso, one of my favourites was Astolpho, the coolest of cool knights. Astolpho can trap the south wind in a wine skin in order to allow an army to cross the desert unimpeded by a sandstorm, and he thinks nothing of returning to earth after having witnessed the splendours of heaven, or of journeying to the moon in search of Orlando’s 'lost reason’. (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] Who would have thought that the moon might be where all the sanity of the world is stored - as well as quantities of insincere flatteries and hypocritical prayers! Astolpho even spotted a jar containing some of his own ‘lost wits’ on the moon. Fortunately, he still had sufficient wits about him to grab that jar while he had the chance. I liked Astolpho a lot. But my favourite knight was Bradamante* who proved herself the bravest and wisest of them all, again and again. (view spoiler)[ This is Bradamante meeting with the sorcerer Melissa in Merlin's cave. (hide spoiler)] At one point Bradamante says that knights must really have little to do since they spend their spare time inventing more and more nonsensical rules of chivalry. She's a practical girl, Bradamante, more inclined to take action than to dissolve in tears when things go wrong. But she's not beyond having her heart broken so I was really happy when, near the end of the story, she was saved from certain disaster, and from losing her lover forever, by the thundering crash of a tree falling to the ground. It was a sturdy cypress and not a weeping willow, which is very fitting… .................................................................. *'Orlando Furioso' was written as a kind of origin myth for the powerful Este family who ruled the Italian duchy of Ferrara in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Ariosto, who was a diplomat in the service of the family, wrote the long poem as an elaborate tribute, implying that the christian knight Bradamante and the Saracen knight Ruggiero were the founders of the illustrious Este dynasty which dated from the seventh century. [image error]

  4. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    A few years ago when I read Irving Stone's amazing work The Agony And The Ecstasy about the life of Michelangelo, the poet Ludovico Ariosto was mentioned somewhere as being a dinner guest of the Pope of the day. With my typical curiosity, I wondered if Ariosto was a real person (he was); what did he write (Orlando Furioso, for one); and could I find a copy of the work at my favorite online library Project Gutenberg (yep!!). It took a few years to get to to the top of my Someday List, but I did f A few years ago when I read Irving Stone's amazing work The Agony And The Ecstasy about the life of Michelangelo, the poet Ludovico Ariosto was mentioned somewhere as being a dinner guest of the Pope of the day. With my typical curiosity, I wondered if Ariosto was a real person (he was); what did he write (Orlando Furioso, for one); and could I find a copy of the work at my favorite online library Project Gutenberg (yep!!). It took a few years to get to to the top of my Someday List, but I did finally start reading Orlando and at first I was completely enchanted with it. Knights in shining armor, damsels in distress, monsters, magic rings, swords with names, horses with personality, plenty of wizards both evil and good, lots of action. It was all very exciting and nearly always readable. Allow me to quote from the wiki article about this poet ~~ The poem, a continuation of Matteo Maria Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato, describes the adventures of Charlemagne, Orlando, and the Franks as they battle against the Saracens with diversions into many sideplots. Ariosto composed the poem in the ottava rima rhyme scheme and introduced narrative commentary throughout the work. Ariosto also coined the term "humanism" (in Italian, umanesimo) for choosing to focus upon the strengths and potential of humanity, rather than only upon its role as subordinate to God. This led to Renaissance humanism. Before I began Furioso, I read what I could find about Boiardo's poem, so I knew a little bit what to expect. That 'ottava rima rhyme scheme' meant that each stanxa had eight lines, with a specific rhyming pattern that was easy to read and never fell into that horrid thumpety thump sound that many poems force me into. Here is an example: To good Rogero here was brought a steed, Puissant and nimble, all of sorel hue; Who was caparisoned with costly weed, Broidered with gold, and jewels bright to view. That other winged horse, which, at his need, Obedient to the Moorish wizard flew, The friendly damsels to a youth consigned, Who led him at a slower pace behind. Orlando Innamorato was left unfinished at the time of Boiardo's death in 1494. Furioso was published in 1516, and translated for this edition by William Stewart Rose, who worked on the epic project from 1823 to 1831. So there were lots of interesting archaic words to look up, like that puissant. which turned out to mean powerful. My dictionary website and I became very good friends while I was reading this poem! Now for the 'but'. Even though I was at first captivated and interested and couldn't wait to find out what happened to our many various heroes, there were a few things that finally defeated me completely. All those 'sideplots', for one thing. We would just get to the decisive moment in this or that fight and Ariosto would say 'Oh, but now we must leave so-and-so and go witness what became of whosit, remember we left him doing thus and so'. By Canto 19 (of nearly 50) I was so lost I could barely remember who was so-and-so and who was whosit. And at some point I realized that Orlando himself had not been mentioned in ages. The sideplots triggered other sideplots, and every damsel in distress had to tell her tale of woe to whichever knight found her, which meant more sideplots. There were several times when Ariosto commented that he hoped he would be able to take up all the different threads of his tale and tie them off properly. If the poet himself worries about such a thing, how can the reader expect to be able to follow anything?! Well, I finished 18 cantos and my notes show that I was still fascinated, except that I was beginning to wonder about Orlando, and I had to skim a bunch of stanzas that sung the praises of the poet's patron's ancestors. He wove this type of thing into the story many times, but I was getting tired of that by this point. I had also begun to skim or skip the first few stanzas of each Canto, where Ariosto would speak directly to his patron before getting back to the story. I think I would have detested being a poet or artist in the Renaissance period. Without a powerful patron they could do nothing, and yet with the patron they had to glorify egos rather than be as creative as they might have wanted to be. So annoyance was already settling in, and then came The Break. I probably should not have started reading this work just one week before our yearly five day trip to Teotihuacan. I knew it was a long piece and that I would not be able to finish it before we left, but I did not expect to come home with absolutely no more interest in the poem at all. I tried to get back into it, but it was impossible. I may try again someday: the remaining dozens of cantos and their hundreds of stanzas will always be readily available at Gutenberg, after all. But for now, I have to give up on our hero Orlando and leave him Furioso, never knowing if he ever managed to be Innamorato again. (I wavered between 2 and 3 stars. I did like many parts of this, but overall for me it was just okay, when I think carefully about it all. Maybe Someday when (if) I can actually finish the rest of the poem, the rating will change.)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    I am in love with this book, and I have no idea why everybody isn't reading it all the time. It is a massively fun tale dealing with the exploits of the knights of Charlemagne. It moves incredibly quickly, seamlessly weaves together dozens of terrific stories, and gives the reader all the fulfillment one could wish for in an adventure novel. Lots of battles and intrigue and sorcerers and giants and mistaken identities and flying steeds and magic and all of that good fantasy stuff, and it was wri I am in love with this book, and I have no idea why everybody isn't reading it all the time. It is a massively fun tale dealing with the exploits of the knights of Charlemagne. It moves incredibly quickly, seamlessly weaves together dozens of terrific stories, and gives the reader all the fulfillment one could wish for in an adventure novel. Lots of battles and intrigue and sorcerers and giants and mistaken identities and flying steeds and magic and all of that good fantasy stuff, and it was written in the 16th century, so you get to enjoy the fact that you're learning a little about the people and ideas of former times and exposing yourself to a classic. Also, the women in this book aren't a bunch of helpless or overly virtuous props for the men. Two of the baddest-ass knights in the story are women who go around saving all of the male characters, and the Saracen princess Angelica, who everybody loves, does a lot of outmanoevering the several knights who are constantly in pursuit of her. Then Orlando goes completely insane from unrequited love and starts all sorts of gruesome wholesale killing while the paladin Astolpho travels to the moon with the Apostle John to fetch back Orlando's lost wits. Then all sorts of other wonderful crazy crap happens, and you should definitely read the book to find out about it. Sir Walter Scott, Voltiare and Byron all compared Ariosto to Homer, favoring the former, and I'd much rather read him than any modern fantasy writer. (Note on the translation: I'm very pleased that the translator of the Oxford World Classics edition, Guido Waldman, decided to render this book in prose rather than trying to emulate the octava rima scheme of the original epic poem. Perhaps the fact that a prose version has only been available for a couple of decades is what has been responsible for this book's neglect in the English speaking world. Meanwhile, it's a testament to Ariosto's skill that not a single stanza seems to contain an extra line or extraneous detail. I can barely imagine how anybody could write something so tight under the imposition of a poetic schema. I don't think Pushkin or Dante or Chaucer or Virgil was so successful.)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

    My brother got me a hardcover 1st of the new translation of the Furioso for Xmas - hell yes bro!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    If I told you that you should read an early sixteenth century Italian verse epic whose primary themes are courtly love and chivalry, would you do it? What if I told you there's a new translation which abridges the massive original to a mere 700 pages? Too good to be true? I know what you're thinking: uh, yawn, cough, cough, maybe I'll get to that when I can't use my legs any more. Thanks anyway. But what if I told you it's one of the funniest, most rollicking adventures ever written, with astoundi If I told you that you should read an early sixteenth century Italian verse epic whose primary themes are courtly love and chivalry, would you do it? What if I told you there's a new translation which abridges the massive original to a mere 700 pages? Too good to be true? I know what you're thinking: uh, yawn, cough, cough, maybe I'll get to that when I can't use my legs any more. Thanks anyway. But what if I told you it's one of the funniest, most rollicking adventures ever written, with astounding feats of derring-do and psychological insights so sly and accurate that you can only marvel at them? What if I told you that the breezy tone and author's wit make you feel like you're in the company of an ideal fantasy Renaissance court, enjoying the best that Italy has ever had to offer? Well, I am telling you. The translator's obvious joy in the humor comes through in the elasticity of the meter, which he's ready and willing to sacrifice whenever a just-right but too-long or too-short English word perfectly expresses a joke. Sometimes serious but never earnest, this adventure is both a celebration and a send-up of courtly traditions, and it can be read in long sittings or stolen moments with equal enjoyment. What are you waiting for?

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bbrown

    Why is this epic not better known? Sure, there are ample academic texts written about it, its importance to later literature is widely acknowledged, and I've read more than one reference to it in the works of other great authors, but the vast majority of readers have never even heard of Orlando Furioso. Though originally published less than fifty years after Mallory's Le Morte D'Arthur, Orlando Furioso is not nearly as well-known or as widely read, which is a shame because it's a far better book Why is this epic not better known? Sure, there are ample academic texts written about it, its importance to later literature is widely acknowledged, and I've read more than one reference to it in the works of other great authors, but the vast majority of readers have never even heard of Orlando Furioso. Though originally published less than fifty years after Mallory's Le Morte D'Arthur, Orlando Furioso is not nearly as well-known or as widely read, which is a shame because it's a far better book. Orlando Furioso is filled with interesting aspects, for instance it reframes and retells numerous stories from the Greek epics, it delivers progressive morality lessons through stories (better than The Canterbury Tales ever does), and it features a narrator/author that interacts with the story in fascinating ways. More important than any of those things, though, it's actually very fun to read. Its episodic structure, combined with its extensive cast of characters and multiple divergent story threads, means that you have to put more time and effort into this book than the length may suggest, and that's my best bet for what has kept it from being more popular among mainstream readers (and what holds it back from being a five star book for me). Though the structural flaws may detract from it, Orlando Furioso does so many things well, and is so interesting and enjoyable overall, that I highly recommend it. Though titled Orlando Furioso, the madness of Orlando is actually not significant compared to the two main plot threads of 1) female knight Bradamant's romance with the knight Ruggiero, and 2) the war over Paris between Charlemagne's Christian forces and the invading Muslims led by African king Agramant. Orlando is, however, acknowledged as the mightiest of knights in the realm, and Orlando Furioso is a pretty great title, so it makes sense as the epic's name. These three main plot threads solidify the central themes of this epic as love and chivalric warfare, and Ariosto emphasizes both with the narrative's other aspects: the journeys of the many characters in this epic are replete with chivalric deeds, stories about love and faithfulness, and fierce battles. I would say that, though this is not the definitive text on the code of chivalry and the actions taken thereunder, it's still the most interesting book I've read that tackles the subject. It's the aforementioned stories about love and faithfulness and the fierce battles where this text shines, though. The stories of love and faithfulness are designed, naturally, to impart lessons on the characters and the reader about these subjects, and what is striking is how progressive these lessons are. Unfaithful women are degraded, but so are the men that are obsessed with the faithfulness of their wives or are foolish enough to put it to the test. At one point the text reads: If the same ardour, the same urge drives both sexes to love's gentle fulfilment, which to the mindless commoner seems so grave an excess, why is the woman to be punished or blamed for doing with one or several men the very thing a man does with as many women as he will, and receives not punishment but praise for it? This would have been a progressive stance for a book to take a hundred years ago, and Orlando Furioso is now over five hundred years old. This is not to say that everything is aligned with our modern sensibilities, for instance even our heroes are occasionally overcome with the urge to rape a beautiful women, but these instances are rare, all things considered. It is fascinating to read Ariosto give such similar weight to women as compared to men, both as characters and in the lessons of the text, in an epic from so long ago, and it makes the book seem fresh and relevant in a way that few works from this historical period (or morality lessons in general) do. The battles of Orlando Furioso likewise impress in a way rare among epics. In the Iliad, more often than not it seemed that a thrown spear pierced the nipple area of an enemy, or that a blow splattered the brains of an enemy, so the fighting often seemed repetitive. In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, enemies clash in nondescript ways until a bombard sounds with mind-numbing frequency. Compare that to Orlando Furioso, where the violence that makes up a significant portion of the book is characterized by both its variety and inventiveness. Enemy knights get cut in half in battle, stabbed in the forehead, thrown over (as opposed to from atop) walls and crushed on impact, multiple enemies get shish-kebabed on lances, and more. Bloody battles are, unavoidably, a significant part of war epics, and all too often the fighting itself goes on for pages but is not at all interesting. Orlando Furioso keeps these scenes from getting repetitive, so that such sections do not drag, and in fact are sometimes quite enjoyable. Orlando Furioso has other interesting aspects as well, that are not strictly necessary for a narrative of this type, but the addition of them enhances the book. The narrative takes various famous scenes from Greek epics and mythology and reframes them as part of this chivalric tale, so one page you are reading about a knight crossing the countryside and the next you recognize that the text has shifted to retelling the story of Ulysses and the cyclops, or Perseus fighting Cetus, or the island of Circe, or a reimagined Orpheus and Eurydice. I expect that Ariosto included these tales to link the chivalric age with the golden age of civilization, and to thereby compare the heroes of Orlando Furioso to the greatest mythical heroes. For a modern reader, it's interesting to identify what sources Ariosto is drawing from on any given page. Ariosto himself leads to another interesting aspect of the text, namely a narrator that plays a far more significant role in the narrative than you would expect. Some of this is boilerplate for epics, with Ariosto introducing the text, lavishing praise on his benefactors, etc. But Ariosto also comments on the actions and lessons of the story more frequently than a narrator typically does, refers you to other texts for further information on a given topic, pines for his own love, tells you when a canto can be skipped without detriment to the overall story, and essentially takes a victory lap in the final canto of the epic (naming all his worthy friends and the beautiful women of the court). Ariosto thereby becomes a character in his own right, and the text is more interesting for it. In addition to the engaging war segments, the progressive love lessons, and the transformed classic myths, the original episodes in the book are likewise interesting, and the characters (though not drawn with much depth, as the code of chivalry makes them all a bit one-note) are likable enough that you care about the book's central romance and Orlando's madness. All of this together makes Orlando Furioso not only interesting, but a largely enjoyable read. It is not without flaws, however, namely structural flaws, though I understand that a part of this is a historical artifact that I don't think Ariosto deserves much blame for. This artifact is the episodic nature of the text, with many of this book's cantos serving as stories largely independent from the main narrative, where a certain character defeats a wrongdoer or gains a magical item or some such thing. Often these individual stories push forward one of the main themes or lessons of the book, but they nevertheless feel divorced, to a certain degree, from the main narrative. The envoy from the queen of Iceland and the three Scandinavian kings escorting a golden shield, staying in a castle where only one group of knights or maidens can rest at a time and then must fight/have a beauty contest with the next group to arrive, who are challenged by Bradamant, makes for an entertaining vignette on its own, but it does nothing to push forward any of the main plot threads. In an era where an epic like this was written to be told to an audience, and likewise in a piecemeal fashion, however, this episodic structure was likely a benefit and not a detriment. I have a pair of married friends who read aloud to each other most nights, and that might well have been the perfect way to consume this epic when it was originally published, a leisurely reading of one canto per night for a month and a half. I think that such a method of consumption does not work nearly as well nowadays because of the other structural flaw of Orlando Furioso, the vast cast of important characters. To understand the action of this book you absolutely have to keep track of what Orlando, Rinaldo, Angelica, Bradamant, Ruggiero, Astolfo, Charlemagne, and Agramant are doing. You should also probably be keeping track of what Marfisa, Brandimart, Rodomont, Mandricard, Grifon the White, Aquilant the Black, and Zerbin are doing. The sorcerers of the story are also important, popping up at various times, so you have to remember who Atlas, Melissa, Alcina, and Maugis are. Also, many of the most important knights have named steeds and swords (not to mention armor of different levels of enchantment) that are frequently exchanged, lost, or fought over, so you need to keep rough track of who has what (though the text will almost always remind you about these things). Also, many of the characters are related in various ways, which sometimes becomes important. All this, and I'm still leaving off literally a good twenty characters that are of significant, or even key importance to multiple cantos of this book. With some characters disappearing for upwards of a hundred pages, with the key characters rarely (never?) all in the same place at the same time, and with various plot threads happening in tandem that at times interconnect and that the narrative skips between, the annotated index of the Oxford World's Classics edition of Orlando Furioso is more than useful, it's almost a necessity. Perhaps when it was written, these character were ones that everyone was at least vaguely familiar with, so that the audience could keep track more easily than I could. I don't have that background though, so I found myself having to look up who a character was with some frequency. Either of these problems individually would be relatively minor, but they are magnified because they work to frustrate whichever way you're trying to read this book. Taking it slow? Then the episodic nature isn't a problem, but you'll struggle even more than I did to remember who all the characters are, especially if it has been weeks since you read about Astolfo flying on his hippogryph. Reading straight through? Then you'll have a better time of keeping the players and their equipment and relationships straight, but you will have to deal with many cantos that feel like filler. Entertaining filler, but filler nonetheless. A book this entertaining and interesting should have been easier to read than it was, but the structure hampered my enjoyment. In bygone days this may well have been less of a problem, but I can only judge by my own standards. Nevertheless, the good aspects far outweigh the frustrating ones in Orlando Furioso. This is a chivalric epic done right, a war epic done right, a book of love lessons done right, a classic love story done right. I've written so much here and I've only scratched the surface: I haven't even mentioned that at one point a character teams up with Saint John and travels to the moon to search the palace that holds all things lost on Earth. This is an imperfect, but great book, and you should read it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jo Walton

    I read this version after giving up on two different verse translations. So Orlando Furioso is a very strange thing. It's a sequel to a book called Orlando Inamorata, by Tasso, and it has one of the horrible flaws of fanfic that it assumes you're already deeply invested in these characters, and that when it is revealed to you that (gasp) the character is Rinaldo in disguise, you'll be all excited. And this would be a real payoff for somebody who cares about Rinaldo, but if you've started reading I read this version after giving up on two different verse translations. So Orlando Furioso is a very strange thing. It's a sequel to a book called Orlando Inamorata, by Tasso, and it has one of the horrible flaws of fanfic that it assumes you're already deeply invested in these characters, and that when it is revealed to you that (gasp) the character is Rinaldo in disguise, you'll be all excited. And this would be a real payoff for somebody who cares about Rinaldo, but if you've started reading here and you barely know who he is, well, it's just confusing. So it starts in media res, and not only that but it has many many characters and it doesn't stay with any character for very long. If you think late volumes of Robert Jordan are bad, they're nothing to Orlando Furioso. Ariosto was a Renaissance poet, a client of the D'Este family. This is important and kind of hilarious, because although this poem is set at the time of Charlemagne, he keeps on dragging the D'Estes into everything. There's even one point where some characters have the tent of Hector, from Troy, embroidered by Cassandra with designs showing -- the life of Cardinal Ippolito D'Este. I laughed out loud. Having said this, the reason I gave this book a third try and persevered past the points where I'd given up before, was because Beatrice and Isabella D'Este wrote about it in their letters, and were at one point seeking champions to fight a duel about whether Rinaldo or Ruggiero was better. (I'm sorry to say I agree with Isabella, Ruggiero all the way.) But Voltaire was insane to say that the bit with Armida and Rinaldo is better than the bit of the Odyssey with Circe. I love Voltaire, and I'd defend to the death his right to make this ridiculous claim, but he's absolutely and utterly wrong about this. There are a lot of characters. Most of them are paladins. Some of them are Saracen paladins. Some are Europeans. Some of the Saracens are good guys. Religion isn't actually very significant compared to important things like who has what sword and what device on their shield. Two of the paladins are women, Marfisa and Bradamant. There are also damsels, most memorably Isabel and Angelica. There's a hippogriff. There are magic weapons, lots of prophets, sorcerers and sorceresses, and trips to hell and heaven. What you have to do is keep reading, even if it is no fun, and about half way through people will start to meet up again and everything will make more sense, and it will become enjoyable. I genuinely enjoyed reading the second half, but the first half was grim determination not to let this thing defeat me again, and a desire to see what the heck it was that got everyone so excited about it. I think it's impossible to see that, reading it in translation, because I think a lot of what is so great about it is the actual Italian poetry. It's very easy to describe Orlando Furioso in a way that makes it seem hilarious, and either much better or much worse than it is. For instance. my absolute favourite bit is a venture into allegory where St Michael literally beats up Discord, who he finds wasting her time in a monastery instead of in the Saracen camp where he sent her. There's also a hilarious bit where a princess falls in love with Bradamant, who is disguised as a man. Bradamant has to reveal her gender to get away. The princess is very sad. Then Bradamant meets her identical twin brother (yes I know), who disguises himself as Bradamant (disguise is very easy for everyone, because it consists of changing the device on your shield) and goes back to the princess, saying "I met a fairy in the wood and look what she gave me!" (It was definitely an influence on Spencer's Faerie Queen.) Orlando Furioso has no real plot, no consistent worldbuilding, and only very sketchy characters. I did come to care about the characters, even if I spent most of the book saying "Astolfo is the one with the magic horn, right?" "Maugis, huh, have I seen him before?" Some of it is definitely funny, and it's undoubtedly full of incident. In the end, I'm glad I've read it -- not just glad I've finished it, though I am that, but glad I've read it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    Wow, that was ... long. Good, but long. And featuring surprisingly little of Mad Roland, all things considered. So this was an English prose translation (from 1973) of an Italian epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto that's almost exactly 500 years old -- first published in 1516 although, like George Lucas, Ariosto kept tinkering with it over the years until his death. Basically, this was a chivalric romance -- set hundreds of years prior to its writing, featuring an assortment of historical and not-so-hi Wow, that was ... long. Good, but long. And featuring surprisingly little of Mad Roland, all things considered. So this was an English prose translation (from 1973) of an Italian epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto that's almost exactly 500 years old -- first published in 1516 although, like George Lucas, Ariosto kept tinkering with it over the years until his death. Basically, this was a chivalric romance -- set hundreds of years prior to its writing, featuring an assortment of historical and not-so-historical characters who put on armor, wandered around the countryside, and bashed away at each other with swords and spears. There was a cast of almost literally thousands, not least of whom was Orlando himself (who does, in fact, lose his wits at one point, and spends large amounts of time, on- and off-screen, wandering around the countryside naked and gibbering, and bashing poor shepherds on the head with rocks so he can take their horses). The basic conflict is between the Christian knights of Charlemagne's and the Saracen invaders of France; but this is one of those kinds of stories where, as far as can be told, almost everyone wears the same kind of armor, rides to joust, and has various Italianate names like Clariel and Ruggiero. Which, to be honest, occasionally makes it hard to keep track of exactly which character is on which side at any given point, especially given the knights' tendency, upon seeing any other knight, to immediately issue challenge just for the hell of it. But there are some truly memorable characters in the mix, including a couple of Brienne-of-Tarth-like women -- Bradamant and Marfisa -- who also strap on armor and bash away with swords and spears. Plus more than your fair share of wizards and sorceresses and the like. The narrative kind of bounces from character to character as the whim takes Ariosto, and/or for dramatic purpose -- each canto (chapter) begins with a bit where Ariosto is directly addressing his patron (often, unsurprisingly, in flattering terms) and explaining why we have to leave Rinaldo on the bridge in peril of his life (n.b. I don't remember whether Rinaldo was ever actually in peril on a bridge; but all three of those elements -- Rinaldo, peril, bridge -- definitely did appear in the poem at one point or another, even if not in combination) to instead shift our attention to the fair Angelica, princess of far Cathay. (Remember what I said about everyone having vaguely Italianate names?) So there's romance and chivalry and quests and peril, and enchanted swords and armor, and at least one hippogryff and a flight to the Moon.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steve Morrison

    Orlando Furioso is a miracle of lightness, speed, and wit. Imagine all the brightest qualities Byron, Spenser, Calvino, and Cervantes jumbled deliciously together, and spiced with a dash of Kafka. It's little wonder so many Italian operas sprang from such fertile soil. The poem is about the labyrinthine impossibility of desire and the wild weavings of destiny, told in a wry tone that jumps so quickly from person to person and scene to scene that the reader is soon swept up in Ariosto's ironic wh Orlando Furioso is a miracle of lightness, speed, and wit. Imagine all the brightest qualities Byron, Spenser, Calvino, and Cervantes jumbled deliciously together, and spiced with a dash of Kafka. It's little wonder so many Italian operas sprang from such fertile soil. The poem is about the labyrinthine impossibility of desire and the wild weavings of destiny, told in a wry tone that jumps so quickly from person to person and scene to scene that the reader is soon swept up in Ariosto's ironic whirlwind of Amor. My new favorite book--this is one I'll be rereading the rest of my life! I wrote a little more on it here: http://patienceandshuffle.blogspot.co...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Batgrl (Book Data Kept Elsewhere)

    Bought after hearing an interview with the translator, David R. Slavitt (listen at the following link): World Books Podcast: Of Naked Maidens and Sea Serpents (February 2, 2010) The Italian Renaissance epic “Orlando Furioso,” was once a hot volume, at least among the literati, such as Shakespeare, and musicians, such as Scarlotti and Haydn. But Ludovico Ariosto’s long tale of knights and monsters duking it out largely dropped off the radar screen in the 20th century, though it was Italo Calvino’s Bought after hearing an interview with the translator, David R. Slavitt (listen at the following link): World Books Podcast: Of Naked Maidens and Sea Serpents (February 2, 2010) The Italian Renaissance epic “Orlando Furioso,” was once a hot volume, at least among the literati, such as Shakespeare, and musicians, such as Scarlotti and Haydn. But Ludovico Ariosto’s long tale of knights and monsters duking it out largely dropped off the radar screen in the 20th century, though it was Italo Calvino’s favorite work of literature. Translator David R. Slavitt wants to rectify that with his English translation of the poem, the first in 30 years. World Books Editor Bill Marx talks to Slavitt, a veteran translator of over eighty volumes of poetry and fiction, about how his playful version reflects the giggly, surrealist mischievousness of the original. I thought that, since I hadn't read more than excerpts in undergrad, I should try to read the entire work. Well, not really - let's just say the first half, since the entire text is even more massive than this version. Note this fact from the wikipedia page:Ariosto's work is 38,736 lines long in total, making it one of the longest poems in European literature. So at 658 pages this isn't the complete poem. From the preface: "What we have in this volume is slightly more than half of what Aristo wrote - primarily because the production costs of an enormous and unwieldy volume (or volumes) would have made for a discouragingly expensive book, which would have defeated my purpose of broadening Aristo's Anglophone audience." I read a used copy which has been marked and underlined, with notes added here and there, by former owner Kate Miley (I think). Kate has won me over by the odd doodles and the random cartoon bear she sketched on the last page. At first I was rolling my eyes over the "lol" added here and there, but then I began to really get into the reading, and when I'd come to a "lol" I'd say to the book "I know, right?!" Because yes, there are some really funny moments. (And of course I had to quote them, see below.) I should also note here that the earliest version of this came out in around 1516. So when you read the more modernized text of this version - the sentiments are still original and some wildly unusual for that time. (Here's the William Stewart Rose translation on Gutenberg, from 1823-31.) So what's the book like? Hmmm, how to describe this to you...well, it's not like reading your average piece of 16th century poetic literature, not in this translation anyway. Think of this as a cross between a pulp novel, a comic book, a session of Dungeons and Dragons (where the DM has a great sense of humor), and a bodice-ripper romance that's heavy on the near-rape scenes (some of those made me wince, some made me say "oh great, not again" - because yes, it's a trope). In fact it's now inspired me to go read other translations just to see how others have translated some of these words. (Though I'm probably not going to get around to doing that anytime soon.) I should add that I started reading this book during a particularly crappy time in my life, and I vaguely hoped that reading it might get my mind off of reality. But I was also expecting it to be a standard poetic epic that I'd have to work to understand what's going on - like, say, The Faerie Queene (which I still have not finished). I was actually trying to use it as Put Yourself To Sleep Reading at Bedtime. Instead I ended up reading it, enjoying it, and laughing every so often. And forgetting the crappiness I was in the midst of. Which I very much needed, and not at all what I expected from an epic. Also I'm the quietly-snickering-to-herself type more than laughing type - but I confess, I did laugh. So now I'm going to regard the book fondly just for helping me out. It gets a special bookshelf place. (After it's loaned to my father who's dying to read this translation.) How much did I enjoy this read? Read the following quotes, and then the Reading Progress section. The amount I've bothered to quote is always a sign I'm having fun. For those wanting the quick version without having to read the HUGE amount of quotes - I think I quoted this book more than anything else I've read. Because I wanted a place to quick reference some of these lines. And then note how many stars I gave it. IMPORTANT! My reaction is completely due to this particular translation. Having looked at one or two examples of previous translations - reading them would be a completely different experience. Quotes: (Not always copying the full stanza, just the funny and interesting bits.) Canto II, 10 Rinaldo raises up Fusberta, which, believe it or not, is the name of his broadsword. ....... Canto II, 11 She's fleeing from Rinaldo, and here he stands, victorious, and no one is left to protext her. Unless she wants to give in to his demands, as, if she remains there, he would expect her to do, she had better make some other plans and leave at once, out of self-respect or simply fear. She does not make excuses but with a twitch of the reins of her horse vamooses. ....... Canto II, 58 The knight once more falls silent. You remember the knight is talking to Bradamante. Those quotation marks were reminders of this. But his story was quite long, and during the course of his narration, you may have forgotten the frame. But that's all right. ....... Canto II, 72 And there it is, easy as pie, although why pie is easy is difficult to explain. ....... Canto II, 76 (last stanza before Canto III) And then? Is this the end? But surely not. The smaller twigs of the elm branch break her fall, as you might have guessed, with all those pages you've got in your right hand. So this cannot be all there is. She doesn't die here, but just what happens to her after this close call that leaves her on the bottom, stunned and hurt so we'll get to soon, perhaps in Canto Terzo. ....... Canto III, 67 "...the odds would still be against you, for that mad necromancer inside that arrogant steel castle of his rides about on that bad hippogryph that flies in extravagant aerial maneuvers. But worse, you'll find, is his shield with which he can render his foes blind. 68 "when he uncovers it. And do not expect that you can contrive some stratagem - to fight with your eyes closed perhaps. ..." ....... Canto III, 77 She does not let him sit too close to her knowing that he could rob her and then absquatulate. ....... Guinevere, a king's daughter, is accused of being unchaste and thus law decrees she will be put to death. Rinaldo thinks this is a bad law, even if Guinevere has slept with someone: Canto V, 66 "If the same ardor moves both men and women to the sweetness of love, it is unfair that women should be punished for being human once, while men are praised as debonair for doing it as often as they can do. Man and woman should be treated the same. I declare that I mean, with the help of God, to right this wrong that is so outrageous and has gone on so long." ....... Canto VI, 20 The island was like the one that Arethusa lived on (it was Ortygia, I recall), fleeing the river god. (You have to use a book of myths to get these stories all in order.) Let's say it was nice (and who's a critic of islands anyway?) The small island loomed much larger as they got lower, and the hippogryph flew gentlier and slower. ....... Ruggiero must fight the "cruel giantess" Erifilla: Canto VII, 3 Her armor, first, was set with gems of many colors - rubies, emeralds, chrysolite. She was mounted, not on a horse that any person might want, but a wolf on which she'd fight. Ruggiero took a second look at this when he approached and wondered if she had trained it to bite. And it wasn't a normal wolf but enormous in size, tall as an ox, and with gleaming yellow eyes. ....... Canto VIII, 71 ...He tries to focus his mind without success and these notions, whirling about like perns in a gyre, or, say, like moonbeams put to rout as they bounce off the surface of water and one discerns on the ceiling a dance of their tiny lights that are acting as if they were terrified - it can be distracting. ....... Orlando wondering where Angelica is, and worrying about her possible rape (because her loss of virginity would be such a trauma for *him* because of course she belongs to him - all males in this story seem to have this attitude towards Angelica), among other dangers: Canto VIII, 77 "And where are you now, my hope, my love, without my protection? Do wicked wolves surround you, their slathering jaws agape as they circle about their prey? That delicate flower that I found, you beautiful blossom the angels gave me. I doubt that you can survive untouched, unplucked, your dew still on those lovely petals. Or have they by force taken you? I worry about that, of course. 78 "And if the worst that I can imagine has come to pass, what can I wish for but a quick death? O God, I pray to you to have some mercy. Afflict me some other way, sick crippled, blind, dishonored, deaf and dumb, but spare her. Otherwise, I shall have to pick some painful form of suicide." ... ....... Must give you three stanzas here so that you can see how fun Aristo is - what at first seems a pacifist rant then becomes something else in stanza 90. All about the modern technology of destruction - in this time period - the cannon. Canto IX, 88 And neither is Orlando hanging around. He departs, having taken but one thing - that machine of fire, iron, and sound, a weapon of mass destruction, that terrible gun, which he does not want for his own use, having found it to be unfair and unsporting: only a son of a bitch would think to use it in a fight. It isn't at all appropriate for a knight. 89 It ought to be destroyed, he thinks, to keep anyone from ever making use of it against men to kill and to estrepe. He cannot think of any sane excuse for it to exist, and he throws it into the deep of the sea to make men and women safer, whose futures will not be blighted by such an obscene, inelegant, and dangerous machine. 90 He also finds it politically incorrect in the way it makes a weak man equal to the strongest, so that all rank and respect are fundamentally threatened, for otherwise who would know his place or observe the correct distinctions? Civilization as he knew it would be over, equality would reign. The very idea gives our paladin pain. ....... I had no idea orc had so many definitions. In this case it's a sea monster: Canto X, 101 Ruggiero, however, has his lance at the ready, and with it he strikes the orc, a writhing mass that is more a blob than a beast, except for the head he is aiming at. Its mouth is a dark crevasse with protruding teeth like a boar's. Ruggiero's steady lance strikes at the forehead but he has little success. It's as if he is striking blows on granite or iron. It's perfectly otiose. ....... Hey look, it's more cannon ranting! And the devil is to blame! Canto XI, 22 Had it been up to Orlando we would all be much better off. But the cannon's cruel inventor was the one who tempted Eve and contrived the fall of mankind from the garden, the arch tormentor, whose clear intention was that what we call guns and cannons would one day re-enter the world of men, in our grandparents' time or before and would transform both society and war. 23 A hundred fathoms down it was, but some necromancer raised it from the deep and gave it to the Germans who learned from repeated trial and error how to keep from blowing themselves up. The curriculum of the devil suited them well and with a steep learning curve they rediscovered its use. But secrets tend to spread and reproduce. 24 ...And what this means is that anyone, high or low, is the equal of anyone else. It has done away with rank and order, and honor, and valor, too, and the rabble are just the same as me and you. ....... Enchantress Melissa (one of the good ones) explains the castle that's a magical trap set by the villain Atlas - and in which the reader can see as a metaphor...: Canto XIII, 49 She reveals his trick of intuiting the desire of every person and offering just that for which the man's or woman's heart is on fire, but whatever it is, it's just out of reach, which is what keeps them there, searching through the entire structure for that voice they keep hearing but can never quite locate. It is a quest that can never succeed but from which they can never rest. .......

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Classic of world literature. Renaissance Proto-feminism, dizzying irony, labyrinths of interwoven parallel plotting, and very funny: what more could you want from a this ponderous multi-volume work of an iconoclastic poetic genius? Here one sees the beginning of the breakdown of the rigid classical literary norms: e.g. the poet breaks into the narrative to cast aspersions on the supposed chastity of the beautiful princess who all the knights fall in love with: "Forse era ver, ma non pero' credib Classic of world literature. Renaissance Proto-feminism, dizzying irony, labyrinths of interwoven parallel plotting, and very funny: what more could you want from a this ponderous multi-volume work of an iconoclastic poetic genius? Here one sees the beginning of the breakdown of the rigid classical literary norms: e.g. the poet breaks into the narrative to cast aspersions on the supposed chastity of the beautiful princess who all the knights fall in love with: "Forse era ver, ma non pero' credibile". Ariosto could be speaking of his work, which like the princess, has a beautiful face that masks (stylistic) impurity, but is much the better creation as a result. It is a work of powerful imagination and memorable images.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    Let me confess: I read the French prose translation not the Italian verse original I am thus unable to comment on the poetic qualities of the Italian. What I was able to comprehend convinced me that this is an extraordinary adventure tale from the Renaissance and with a very modern perspective on many issues that we are still grappling with today. If you have the good fortune to be taking this work on a university course, you should obviously concentrate on the interpretation that your professor Let me confess: I read the French prose translation not the Italian verse original I am thus unable to comment on the poetic qualities of the Italian. What I was able to comprehend convinced me that this is an extraordinary adventure tale from the Renaissance and with a very modern perspective on many issues that we are still grappling with today. If you have the good fortune to be taking this work on a university course, you should obviously concentrate on the interpretation that your professor presents. The naive reaction of a modern reader is sure to be misleading on several issues. This works belongs to the Renaissance not the Middle Ages. The author is constantly referring to recent events that will change the ways of the world in the future. The invention of muskets will make wars more destructive. The Portuguese by finding a sea route to India will end Italy's position of dominance in European commerce. The discovery of America will make Western Europe richer and more important relative to Italy. Arioste also argues for a changing view of woman. He gives us two very strong woman warriors as leading characters in his novel and then argues that male writers out of jealousy have always tried to conceal the quality of women as warriors. All in all, Arioste shows us a world where ideas, values and social structures are in a state of constant evolution. A young reader encountering this work early in his or her undergraduate career would find this book a great transitional link between contemporary juvenile culture and classical literature. The central drama involves a Muslim named Roger who converts to Christianity so that he can marry the great female warrior Bradamente. This is something like Han Solo in Star Wars abandoning his life of crime to fight with the bright side of the force and win the love of Princess Leia the spunky, laser sword wielding leader of the Rebels. Roland for whom the work is named goes crazy ("fou furieux") when his girl friend dumps him. He then spends roughly one third of the book running around Europe stark naked killing people indiscriminately. Fortunately a friend of his borrows the Hippogriff from Harry Porter who carries him to the moon where he discovers Roland's wits in bottle in the vault where the brains of Earthly poets are stored. He returns to the Earth and pours Roland's wits back into his head. With their leader back, the Christians then score a decisive victory over the Muslims. Roger converts to Christianity and marries Bradamente. All in all, Orlando Furioso offers all the pleasures of a inter-Galactic adventure with great sword fights, passionate love stories and the triumph of the Force over the Dark Side. It is not to be missed.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wreade1872

    I read the 1831 verse translation by William Stewart Rose. However there are a small number of pieces missing in that translation which i filled in using the 1591 translation by John Harrington. Epic italian poem, featuring knights, damsels, magic and the occasional monster. Its not so much a single story as an entire library of them all mixed together. Set against the backdrop of the Moors invading France. This gives the work a lot more cohesion than other epics like the Faerie Queene. The auth I read the 1831 verse translation by William Stewart Rose. However there are a small number of pieces missing in that translation which i filled in using the 1591 translation by John Harrington. Epic italian poem, featuring knights, damsels, magic and the occasional monster. Its not so much a single story as an entire library of them all mixed together. Set against the backdrop of the Moors invading France. This gives the work a lot more cohesion than other epics like the Faerie Queene. The author does a pretty good job of reminding you who's who and whats been happening, whenever he switches characters. This helps a lot and i wasn't often confused about which character was which. The best thing about this is the moral greyness of it all. It really is almost 'Game of Thrones' in places. Heroes lie, make bad deals to save their own skin, kill hundreds of soldiers or farmers, and in one intance tried to rape some woman who they just rescued. I do have to say it has a LOT less attempted sexual assaults than the Faerie Queene, but a lot more consensual sex. It also has less monsters and magical creatures than than Spenser's work but i like that, it means that when things do get strange it has more of an impact. A few of minor issues, one is the lists of famous people rammed in to the work here and there, these are only of interest to people of the day or historical scholars, but are easily skippable. The other thing that can annoy is the structure, most of the switches between character are fine but occasionally it happens at an exciting moment and instead of hearing what happens next your forced to get through a completely unrelated plot before getting back to the action. Also this is a direct sequel to the unfinished 'Orlando Innamorata' and while the version i read contained a quick summary of events from that work i still felt confused at the start and on occasions when it refers back to previous events from Innamorata. Overall despite not being able to read it in its native language, its REALLY good. There's just so much in here and some of it is just the right amount of morally gray for a modern audience to appreciate. Oh and there's some kick ass females in here aswell.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    If you read just one Renaissance epic poem, I would recommend this. Keep in mind while reading my glowing review that this is a 16th century epic poem in translation. Mileage - woo varies. Definitely more of an interwoven plot than Spenser's dreary Fairy Queen. Ariosto has a sense of fun and I think he gleefully leaves off at as many cliffhangers as possible. Plus - two female knights! Woot! The poem is much improved by skipping any part where a seer talks about the glorious future of the descenda If you read just one Renaissance epic poem, I would recommend this. Keep in mind while reading my glowing review that this is a 16th century epic poem in translation. Mileage - woo varies. Definitely more of an interwoven plot than Spenser's dreary Fairy Queen. Ariosto has a sense of fun and I think he gleefully leaves off at as many cliffhangers as possible. Plus - two female knights! Woot! The poem is much improved by skipping any part where a seer talks about the glorious future of the descendants of Ruggiero and Bradimante (ie, the author's patrons). He has no fewer than four interludes to their praise, and sadly his patrons did not do a whole lot worthy of praise, or he was not capable of keeping in their good graces AND making these long passages interesting. Other than that, it's a hoot. Ariosto has an odd axe to grind - a pro-adultery ax! Twice his heroes rescue women who are accused of adultery. One is innocent, but the hero claims he would save her even if she was not, and one is not innocent and, yeah... there are repeated refrains about how a woman who does NOT sleep with her lover is more deserving of punishment than one who refuses to. I suspect (and the biographical sketch in the forward bears out) that Ariosto was having trouble parting the thighs of at least one married woman. But he's so fun! There are plot twists that actually surprise - as when one hero is carefully hiding among the monster's sheep heard when two random other chevaliers rescue his lady! Spoiler alert - my favorite part was when Marfisa, deciding that a king who has declared anti-woman laws deserves a lingering death, rides up to him and forgoing her lance or her sword, punches him out. Lordy it's long - two thick volumes, probably near twice the length of the Fairy Queen - but I can't say I have enjoyed a period text more since Chaucer.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Not sure about this translation; I read it in Sir John Harington's, 1591, assigned to him by the the First Elizabeth for his witty account of his invention, the water closet or water "jakes": the Metamorphosis of Ajax-pron. a Jakes. (The Elizabethan Brits called a toilet by a French name, whereas the French called it a John. Foreign names to imply the lower life of foreigners.) I've also read maybe 30 pp in Italian. But I have read entirely in Italian Ariosto's Satire e Lettere (Einaudi 1976/Ric Not sure about this translation; I read it in Sir John Harington's, 1591, assigned to him by the the First Elizabeth for his witty account of his invention, the water closet or water "jakes": the Metamorphosis of Ajax-pron. a Jakes. (The Elizabethan Brits called a toilet by a French name, whereas the French called it a John. Foreign names to imply the lower life of foreigners.) I've also read maybe 30 pp in Italian. But I have read entirely in Italian Ariosto's Satire e Lettere (Einaudi 1976/Ricciardi 1954). This was when I visited his Castello in Garfagnana, over the mountains from Carrara (in the 90s). A foto of me at his Castello features online for those who google Alan Powers (and on my habitableworlds website). Ariosto was the military governor of Garfagnana, which he called "questa fossa," this ditch. It's beautiful, but it was the home of dozens of brigands, outlaws. Ariosto as military commander for the Duke of Ferrara had maybe forty troops, half of them horse--which he points out in a satire (maybe #2, to his brother)--are useless in the mountain rocks. He was also plagued by desertions from his troops, and by the geo-political fact of three contiguous rulers,I seem to recall.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    Orlando Furioso, written during the Renaissance, is a grand epic lark as hilarious and fantastic as any Monty Python adventure. Writers as from Spencer to Calvino have favored it. Orlando is obsessed with Angelica, pursuing her all over the world until he loses his mind (stored on the moon in a bottle). The war between Christian Europe and Muslims rages on with Charlemagne under siege in Paris. "You think it's easy? No, it's very hard to say nice things to a tree--about how its bark is worse than Orlando Furioso, written during the Renaissance, is a grand epic lark as hilarious and fantastic as any Monty Python adventure. Writers as from Spencer to Calvino have favored it. Orlando is obsessed with Angelica, pursuing her all over the world until he loses his mind (stored on the moon in a bottle). The war between Christian Europe and Muslims rages on with Charlemagne under siege in Paris. "You think it's easy? No, it's very hard to say nice things to a tree--about how its bark is worse than its bite? You can't even send a card, unless it has that recycled paper mark." Page100 (A bit of license on the translator's part.) I keep picking this up. I am just reading about the British armies gathering for France to aid Charlemagne. I am taken by the descriptions of the coats of arms which stand in for descriptions of men.

  19. 5 out of 5

    David

    Like King Arthur meets "Arrested Development." A surprisingly exciting, original, kalidescopically plotted poem with ideas regarding gender and race that might be considered progressive by even todays standards. The only thing keeping it from 5 stars is that the characters are pretty 2 dimensional and the whole thing gets a little repetitive after a while (I can only read about so many jousts...)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra Kay Silva

    This book is so intricately woven. It really is one of those classics that so many other stories draw from. The characters are fabulous and the stories legendary.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jackson Cyril

    One of the truly great works of Italian (and world) literature; it's funny, fast-moving and thoroughly enjoyable-- I particularly enjoyed how Ariosto incorporated elements from Arthurian romances into his great poem. That said, it is tragic how this poem also contains some of the earliest versions of the whole "East v West" rubbish-- Charlemagne and his knights are shown as the valiant defenders of Christendom from Moorish invaders; great poem, but yes, it has some rather repulsive elements whic One of the truly great works of Italian (and world) literature; it's funny, fast-moving and thoroughly enjoyable-- I particularly enjoyed how Ariosto incorporated elements from Arthurian romances into his great poem. That said, it is tragic how this poem also contains some of the earliest versions of the whole "East v West" rubbish-- Charlemagne and his knights are shown as the valiant defenders of Christendom from Moorish invaders; great poem, but yes, it has some rather repulsive elements which, I am sad to record, have not disappeared from our cultural imagination but have, it seems, returned with a vengeance.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nick Bond

    After The Divine Comedy, Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso is probably the best example of epic poetry that I've read. At the beginning of the Renaissance, literary tradition consisted primarily of what was handed down by the Greeks and Romans, with epic poetry being among the most popular of literary forms. Ariosto is clearly well versed in this tradition, as his epic utilizes the best elements of classical literary canon. The story is fairly easy to follow for the layperson, though the form ca After The Divine Comedy, Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso is probably the best example of epic poetry that I've read. At the beginning of the Renaissance, literary tradition consisted primarily of what was handed down by the Greeks and Romans, with epic poetry being among the most popular of literary forms. Ariosto is clearly well versed in this tradition, as his epic utilizes the best elements of classical literary canon. The story is fairly easy to follow for the layperson, though the form can take some getting used to for the unfamiliar. Readers familiar with older literature (Furioso was written in 1532) will recognize the influence of Homer, Ovid, and Dante, as well as the tales of King Arthur that were popular in contemporary Europe. The poem is very long and there are a lot of characters to keep track of, so be prepared for a major time investment. Also note that Ariosto likes to start his cantos with a summary of what's going to happen -- you might want to skip the opening stanza if you don't like spoilers. I read the verse translation by William Stewart Rose and was impressed by how fluid it was. One obvious defect was Rose's refusal to translate any sexually explicit content, resulting in several large gaps in the story that couldn't help but be confusing. There are other translations out there, some in prose, so do some research before you start. One of the most striking things about Ariosto's writing is his obviously conflicted relationship with women. On the one hand, he fashions himself a defender of the oft-maligned sex, presenting a number of very strong female characters and explicitly rebutting a number of female stereotypes. At times, he even seems to suggest that the only reason that most women are inferior in "manly" pursuits is that they weren't trained in them. However, I still sense an underlying misogyny, or at least frustration, with what he perceives as a fickle nature in the average woman. Many of his male characters suffer from unfaithful women... this might even be considered the most prominent theme in the poem.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    Written in 1532, Orlando Furioso is a wonderful Italian Renaissance chivalric romance, taking inspiration from the Arthurian cycle as well as classical Greek and Roman epic and romance (Homer, Vergil, Apuleius etc.), but which is uniquely itself. Set vaguely during the time of Charlemagne and the Saracen invasion of France, it really inhabits a mythic world full of errant knights, distressed damsels, wicked enchanters, marauding monsters and not a few female knights who are quite capable of bein Written in 1532, Orlando Furioso is a wonderful Italian Renaissance chivalric romance, taking inspiration from the Arthurian cycle as well as classical Greek and Roman epic and romance (Homer, Vergil, Apuleius etc.), but which is uniquely itself. Set vaguely during the time of Charlemagne and the Saracen invasion of France, it really inhabits a mythic world full of errant knights, distressed damsels, wicked enchanters, marauding monsters and not a few female knights who are quite capable of being the rescuers rather than the rescued. Itself an inspiration for Spenser's The Faerie Queene, this is crucially central to European literature, spanning a variety of genres. Some reviewers have hated the prose translation, but personally I prefer it to the Penguin verse translation which feels quite contrived to me. Rich, witty, exciting, moving and absolutely never dull, this is a wonderful and very accessible read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Albert

    A magical experience! this has to be one of my top 10 favorite books. The writing is genius, I love how Ariosto always gets you hooked! and how he combines different genres together and not to mention surprise us with all these twists and turns! The wonderful Ruggiero, who is brave and noble, how I loved his flight to Alcina's island! and of course great Rinaldo and his conquests in Scotland! This is is like Lord of the Rings, Harry potter and Homer all in one. Beautiful, with sub stories too! You A magical experience! this has to be one of my top 10 favorite books. The writing is genius, I love how Ariosto always gets you hooked! and how he combines different genres together and not to mention surprise us with all these twists and turns! The wonderful Ruggiero, who is brave and noble, how I loved his flight to Alcina's island! and of course great Rinaldo and his conquests in Scotland! This is is like Lord of the Rings, Harry potter and Homer all in one. Beautiful, with sub stories too! You can trace back many fantasy films and other writings to this book right here.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Peter Aronson

    Well, this was certainly a fun read. The Matter of France mixed with the Matter of Britain and a ton of imagination and dumped in a blender set on high! Much more fun than The Song of Roland or The Faerie Queene in my opinion. I read the (somewhat) controversial David R Slavitt translation -- the one that professors of Italian literature all seem to be down on because it's irreverent and sort of modern in its language and (gasp!) abridged. But I filled in the cut out parts from the Guido Waldman Well, this was certainly a fun read. The Matter of France mixed with the Matter of Britain and a ton of imagination and dumped in a blender set on high! Much more fun than The Song of Roland or The Faerie Queene in my opinion. I read the (somewhat) controversial David R Slavitt translation -- the one that professors of Italian literature all seem to be down on because it's irreverent and sort of modern in its language and (gasp!) abridged. But I filled in the cut out parts from the Guido Waldman prose translation, and an awful lot of what Slavitt cut out was the endless praise Aristo heaped on his patron's family. Orlando Furioso is a sequel to Matteo Maria Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato, and supposedly the much better work, but even without abridgement Boiardo managed to keep the praise of his patrons (the same family who were Aristo's patrons) to a much more reasonable level. Yeah, Aristo is more humorous than Boiardo, but he's also more cynical which sort of cancels out for me. I like the two works about equally. If you are studying this poem for a class on Italian Renaissance literature or you really want to place this story in the historical context it was written, then you probably want an unabridged translation. If you want to read this as a story to be enjoyed for its own sake, then I would think Slavitt's translation would be a fine choice.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    A lot of people don't like David Slavitt's translations, saying that they're too free, too silly, and too sophomoric. They certainly won't like this one either. Terrible poetry, and what's more, it's just an abridgment. (The food was lousy and the portions were small.)But when Slavitt picks an author with a sensibility similar to his own, for example Ovid, or (here) Ariosto, then it seems like a lot of fun. You would never quote this translation in a research paper, but you could get a lot of la A lot of people don't like David Slavitt's translations, saying that they're too free, too silly, and too sophomoric. They certainly won't like this one either. Terrible poetry, and what's more, it's just an abridgment. (The food was lousy and the portions were small.)But when Slavitt picks an author with a sensibility similar to his own, for example Ovid, or (here) Ariosto, then it seems like a lot of fun. You would never quote this translation in a research paper, but you could get a lot of laughs reading it. (I've also learned two new words--absquatulate and estrepe--had to resort to the OED before I found them.) I confess I like outrageous poetry. When I was a kid I liked Freddy the Pig's All through the house (twas the night before Christmas) Not a creature would meet ya, neither Mister nor Miss Mouse. And Byron, writing Don Juan in imitation of this very Ariosto, came up with Come, ye lords of ladies intellectual, Inform us truly, have they not hen-pecked you all? So I get a kick out of Slavitt's playing with ottava rima (rhyme scheme abababcc) Oberto took Olympia to wed and she was no longer a countess but now a queen, which is better, I think, but let us turn instead to Orlando who is at sea where he has been traveling night and day as the breezes have sped him back to his port of embarkation. The keen winds and bitter waves he fights no more. Oh, how good it is to get back on Brigliadoro! [his horse] Or transitioning into the tenth canto: I hate to try your patience or forget my place, or lose your interest and your trust. Bear with me. It'll be worth it, you betch'em (oh it's a wretched rhyme!), in Canto Decimo. So if you like knights and ladies and sorcerers and monsters and quests, and you can put up with this kind of poetry for 600 pages, this book is for you. If not, not.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    You know the part in Sullivan's Travels that goes: John L. Sullivan: I want this picture to be a commentary on modern conditions. Stark realism. The problems that confront the average man! LeBrand: But with a little sex in it. John L. Sullivan: A little, but I don't want to stress it. I want this picture to be a document. I want to hold a mirror up to life. I want this to be a picture of dignity! A true canvas of the suffering of humanity! LeBrand: But with a little sex in it. John L. Sullivan: [ You know the part in Sullivan's Travels that goes: John L. Sullivan: I want this picture to be a commentary on modern conditions. Stark realism. The problems that confront the average man! LeBrand: But with a little sex in it. John L. Sullivan: A little, but I don't want to stress it. I want this picture to be a document. I want to hold a mirror up to life. I want this to be a picture of dignity! A true canvas of the suffering of humanity! LeBrand: But with a little sex in it. John L. Sullivan: [reluctantly:] With a little sex in it. Hadrian: How 'bout a nice musical? That right there is basically the way Orlando Furioso feels. Part of the book is Ariosto's political agenda (imposed upon him by the Este family). This is mostly the love story of Bradamante and Ruggiero (who are essentially superheroes) or the whole religious conflict thing (which is not very convincing). The rest of the book Ariosto devotes to sly jibes at the people he's supposed to be glorifying and dirty jokes. This is, unsurprisingly, more convincing and more fun, although the book is generally pretty fun: swashbuckling, mischievous, light-hearted. Given how much bloodshed takes place, it feels a bit odd to be so amused by Orlando Furioso, but then again Ariosto spends so much time going "These people are ridiculous! The only possible response is a double entendre!" that any other reaction is basically impossible.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alan James

    The main protagonists in this book are Ruggerio, Bradamant his betrothed, Brandimart and Rinaldo. Orlando does appear, but for the main, he is a secondary character. There are a lot of enchanted armour and weapons with both good and bad magic (not white and black magic in the modern sense). The book is part adventure and part court poetry, with lots of praise for the aristocracy of Ariosto's benefactors. Because of this praise the book becomes a little tedious in parts. This, however, is made up The main protagonists in this book are Ruggerio, Bradamant his betrothed, Brandimart and Rinaldo. Orlando does appear, but for the main, he is a secondary character. There are a lot of enchanted armour and weapons with both good and bad magic (not white and black magic in the modern sense). The book is part adventure and part court poetry, with lots of praise for the aristocracy of Ariosto's benefactors. Because of this praise the book becomes a little tedious in parts. This, however, is made up for by some truely lyrical writing. I particularly remember the description of a dawn - the most beautiful that I have ever read. Other notable pieces of writing are Orlando's elegy for Brandimart, and the letters between Ruggerio and Bradamant. The book concerns the adventures that take place during and shortly after the seige of Paris by Saracen armies during the reign of Charlemagne. Islam is treated as an aberration, because the "pagans" have not found Christ. In other respects saracen warriors are accorded the same honour as Christian ones. Other things I was impressed with are the truely ingenious twists that occur. I also like the anthropomorphisation of good, jealousy, anger etc. I cannot read Italian, but the translation of Guido Waldman is a masterpiece in it's own right. Not an easy book to read, but for those who persevere, well worth the effort

  29. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    It was my goal to re-read all of Orlando for the 500th anniversary of the first printing. But I didn't make it. Ariosto is an endlessly inventive intelligence, a master of the perfectly positioned word, and the wielder of the devastatingly snappy couplet. Still, I bogged down in Rodomonte's scenes of slaughter, even though Ariosto is condemning such irrational violence. So some rest, and then maybe I'm back on for the hippogriff ride to the moon, where Orlando's lost wits await in their usefully It was my goal to re-read all of Orlando for the 500th anniversary of the first printing. But I didn't make it. Ariosto is an endlessly inventive intelligence, a master of the perfectly positioned word, and the wielder of the devastatingly snappy couplet. Still, I bogged down in Rodomonte's scenes of slaughter, even though Ariosto is condemning such irrational violence. So some rest, and then maybe I'm back on for the hippogriff ride to the moon, where Orlando's lost wits await in their usefully labeled jar. And back to finish a few months later. At times there is an awful lot of what Milton aptly calls the "tedious havoc" of battling knights. On the other hand, there is Ariosto condemning rage and violence. There is also praise for Vittoria Colonna whose poetry brings her husband back to life, and Brandimarte "umanamente" dropping out of battle to give Fiordiligi a kiss, and Ruggiero and Leone's self-sacrificing friendship that is silly and noble at the same time. And always Ariosto's marvelous imagination and his artful, inventive way with an ottava rima stanza. I put off finishing for a couple of days because I was sorry to leave.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Csenge

    Lost a star because it is written in a closely spaced, impossibly small font in an awkwardly sized book (too thick to open well). I can't judge the quality of the translation since I have not read the Italian original, but it was a pretty enjoyable read, linguistically, and I was grateful for the prose version. If I had to real all 600 and something pages in verse, I might have gone mad like Orlando. Orlando Furioso is a horribly underrated epic. It is a delight, both in story and characters, and Lost a star because it is written in a closely spaced, impossibly small font in an awkwardly sized book (too thick to open well). I can't judge the quality of the translation since I have not read the Italian original, but it was a pretty enjoyable read, linguistically, and I was grateful for the prose version. If I had to real all 600 and something pages in verse, I might have gone mad like Orlando. Orlando Furioso is a horribly underrated epic. It is a delight, both in story and characters, and I was completely enchanted by going through the intricate maze of the plot. Ariosto had a sense of humor, a surprisingly vocal respect for women, and a mastery in the art of the cliffhanger. Sometimes I laughed out loud, and sometimes I was genuinely sad, or excited; moments of magic were balanced with great battle scenes. I can't fathom why this has not been turned into an epic, Game of Thrones style TV show yet... We will be telling this story for this year's Epic Day. I am looking forward to how it comes alive in oral performance.

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