Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando furioso is one of the masterpieces of the Renaissance, a work which, many argue, signalled the apogee of Renaissance fancy on the precipice of irony and decline. This collection of essays brings together twelve noted Italian and American scholars to provide a complete picture of Ariosto and all his works, covering topics such as historical criticism relating to Ariosto’s place and time; philological investigations into the varying literary styles of the author, especially outside of the Furioso; Ariosto’s extrinsic relationships with other literary traditions; and formal and thematic excavations of the immanent aesthetics of the Furioso.
Each essayist acknowledges the fact that Ariosto’s creations are charged with allusions and allegiances variously inviting recognition or demanding the status of record. This reading of his works reveals that Ariosto was not a writer who believed, as it was previously thought, that literature is something escapist or fantastic in nature, but one who, in writing and re-writing his works, tried to re-interpret literary tradition while incorporating the new literary instruments that were available to him at the time: Ariosto’s literary production is an integration of tradition and invention. This new reading of his work will be essential to any Italianist’s library.