«Dreaming again on things already dreamed»
500 Years of Orlando Furioso (1516–2016)
Table Of Contents
- About the author(s)/editor(s)
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- List of Figures and Table
- Sigla and abbreviations
- Prefazione (Gianni Venturi)
- Introduction (Marco Dorigatti / Maria Pavlova)
- Part I Tradition
- 1 L’Orlando furioso e la tradizione romanzesca arturiana (Daniela Delcorno Branca)
- 2 Menzogne, verità e Cassandre tra Morgante e Furioso (Annalisa Perrotta)
- 3 «Dirò d’Orlando»: l’evoluzione della figura del conte di Brava tra il Mambriano e il Furioso (Elisa Martini)
- 4 Nicolò degli Agostini’s Quinto libro and the 1516 Furioso (Maria Pavlova)
- 5 Ariosto’s Rime and the 1516 Furioso: Cases of poetic memory (Giada Guassardo)
- 6 I frammenti autografi dell’Orlando furioso: un’ipotesi per lo “scrittoio” di Ariosto (Ida Campeggiani)
- Part II Interpretation
- 7 L’Orlando furioso nel suo contesto editoriale (Stefano Jossa)
- 8 Trasgressione, travestimento e metamorfosi nel Furioso: intorno alla storia di Ricciardetto e Fiordispina (Franca Strologo)
- 9 Ruggiero: un trovatello, ma di famiglia illustre (Maiko Favaro)
- 10 Dall’errore all’utopia: incontri con l’utopia nell’Orlando furioso (Anna Klimkiewicz)
- Part III Reception
- 11 Il Furioso spiritualizzato (Ambra Anelotti)
- 12 Mutare, imitare e tradurre «tutte le prime ottave dei canti del Furioso» (Francesco Lucioli)
- 13 The narrator enters the scene: The Orlando furioso from Voltaire to Fragonard (Christian Rivoletti)
- 14 The first 500 years of Orlando furioso (Marco Dorigatti)
- Notes on contributors
- Index of Names
Figura 7.1. Indice delle Institutiones uniuersae di Costantino Lascaris (Ferrara, Giovanni Mazzocchi di Bondeno, 1510). Fonte: <https://books.google.it/books?id=UnQKYVRTtaIC&printsec=frontcover&hl=it#v=onepage&q&f=true>.
Figure 13.1. FRAGONARD, Ariosto inspired by Love and Madness (drawing likely intended to be the frontispiece of his planned edition of the Orlando furioso). Besançon, Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Figure 13.2. GABRIEL DE SAINT-AUBIN (Paris, 1724–1780), Voltaire composing La Pucelle, 1775–1780. Oil on canvas, 33 × 25 cm. Paris, Louvre.
Figure 13.3. FRAGONARD, Ariosto dedicates his poem to Ippolito d’Este (Fur., I 3–4). Paris, Louvre, Département des Arts graphiques.
Figure 13.4. FRAGONARD, Ariosto addresses Love (Fur., II 1–2). Stockholm, National Museum.
Figure 13.5. FRAGONARD, Ariosto concentrating on writing (Fur., II 1–2). Paris, Louvre, Département des Arts graphiques.
Figure 13.6. CHARLES ANTOINE COYPEL (1694–1752), Don Quixote, led by Madness, leaves his house to become a knight errant, c. 1716. Oil on canvas, 120 × 128 cm. Compiègne, Château Museum.
Figure 13.7. FRAGONARD, The philosopher. Oil on canvas, 59 × 72.2 cm. Hamburg, Kunsthalle. ← ix | x →
Figure 13.8. FRAGONARD, Bradamante learns of Ruggiero’s unfaithfulness (Fur., VII 1–2). Paris, Prat Collection.
Figure 13.9. FRAGONARD, Orlando vainly searches for Angelica (Fur., XII 8–12). Current location unknown.
Figure 13.10. FRAGONARD, Orlando believes he sees Angelica calling for help (Fur., XII 8–12). Private collection.
A B C These sigla denote the three original editions of Orlando furioso published by Ariosto in 1516, 1521, and 1532, respectively, namely:
A = Orlando furioso de Ludovico Ariosto da Ferrara. Con gratia e privilegio. // Impresso in Ferrara per Maestro Giovanni Mazocco dal Bondeno adi .xxii. de Aprile .M.D.XVI.
B = Orlando furioso di Ludovico Ariosto nobile ferrarese ristampato et con molta diligentia da lui corretto et quasi tutto formato di nuovo et ampliato. Con gratie et privilegii. // Stampato in Ferrara per Giovanni Battista da la Pigna Milanese. A di .XIII. de Febraro .M.D.XXI.
C = Orlando furioso di messer Ludovico Ariosto nobile ferrarese nuovamente da lui proprio corretto e d’altri canti nuovi ampliato. Con gratie e privilegii. // Impresso in Ferrara per maestro Francesco Rosso da Valenza, a di primo d’Ottobre .M.D.XXXII.
Fur. [Ludovico Ariosto] Orlando furioso
Inam. [Matteo Maria Boiardo] Inamoramento de Orlando
Inn. [Matteo Maria Boiardo] Orlando innamorato [variant title of the previous work]
Mamb. [Francesco Cieco da Ferrara] Libro d’arme e d’amore nomato Mambriano
Morg. [Luigi Pulci] Morgante
Giunge alla fine la poderosa impresa assunta da Marco Dorigatti e Maria Pavlova di editare i risultati del grande congresso tenutosi a Oxford alla Taylor Institution: 500 Years of Orlando furioso. La mia testimonianza, come relatore e Presidente di una sessione a cui si aggiunge quella di membro operativo del Comitato nazionale per le celebrazioni del V Centenario della pubblicazione dell’Orlando furioso, non può che essere calorosamente positiva. Quasi un onore tributato al Poeta, Oxford ci accolse con splendide giornate luminose che ci permisero agevolmente di spaziare nei cieli della Luna e oltre. L’eleganza dei luoghi in cui eravamo ospiti, lo spirito sempre pungolante ad assumere prospettive e analisi esegetiche di rapporti nuovi tra le arti; anche a volte le discussioni vivaci, rispettose sempre e comunque del punto di vista altro, le passeggiate lento pede tra le meraviglie del Museo hanno fatto di quei giorni uno dei momenti più significativi delle celebrazioni di questo triennio.
Ora quei risultati si affidano alla stampa e al giudizio della comunità scientifica. L’opera è merito dell’ultimo cavaliere che si è recato a cercare non solo il senno d’Orlando ma la verità della Parola, l’assoluto della poesia: il carissimo amico Marco Dorigatti.
Per anni insieme abbiamo trascorso l’Europa a mostrare l’immagine visiva di Ludovico Ariosto. Per anni la cara immagine paterna ci ha fatto da stimolo e da ammonimento. Ora l’opera è conclusa con questi risultati che tutti noi possiamo apprezzare e condividere.
Grazie a Oxford, grazie a Marco e a Maria.
Professore emerito di Letteraura italiana all’università di Firenze già Direttore, poi Presidente dell’Istituto di Studi Rinascimentali di Ferrara, Membro esecutivo del Comitato nazionale per il V Centenario della pubblicazione dell’Orlando furioso
The Argentinian poet Jorge Luis Borges, whose visionary poem ‘Ariosto y los árabes’ [‘Ariosto and the Arabs’]1 inspired the title of this book, famously defined Ariosto’s Orlando furioso as a dream. Not an individual’s dream, however, but a collective dream. That’s because great books like Ariosto’s – Borges taught us – cannot be the product of a single individual’s creative mind. They define an entire epoch and they are part of the cultural identity of a nation, a mirror in which a society sees its own image. As a dream, Orlando furioso grew out of humble beginnings in the Middle Ages, old legends about Charlemagne and King Arthur, later to conquer the entire western world and become a collective fantasy. Being ingrained in our culture, this narrative poem is also a part of what we are. Ariosto did not write it or invent it. He merely allowed himself the leisure of ‘dreaming again on things already dreamed’ (volver a soñar lo ya soñado), which is what we, too, are about to do.
There is a special reason for this. In 2016 that dream reached its 500th anniversary and, to mark the occasion, a group of scholars, comprising internationally acclaimed specialists as well as younger researchers, came together in Oxford to reflect on Ariosto in what would turn out to be a memorable meeting of minds. This book contains their thoughts and ideas, and above all their dialogue, offering fresh perspectives on one of the most enduring works of European and – increasingly – world literature. For Ariosto, however, things have not always looked so promising. When his poem was first published – on 22 April 1516 (a Tuesday, apparently) – it ← xv | xvi → hardly made any impact and almost went unnoticed. For four years the author struggled to sell all the copies (c. 1,300) of that edition in order to recover his costs. This was an enterprise, in fact, in which he was risking not only his reputation but also his capital. What must have been particularly demoralising for him was the fact that none of the literati, many of whom were his friends, could find anything to say about his work; the only exception being Machiavelli, who left us a brief comment saying he enjoyed the poem but complaining about not being included in the parade of poets at the end.2 Perhaps the most disconcerting silence was that of Pietro Bembo, whom Ariosto held in very high esteem. Bembo must have had an intimate knowledge of his work (evident from the fact that, in his capacity as Latin secretary to Pope Leo X, he even drafted a print privilege for it), yet he never expressed an opinion on this or any other works by Ariosto. His reticence speaks volumes about his unease with a work and a literary genre which, clearly, did not conform to his idea of literature or the way he was trying to shape it. Still, Ariosto was to be vindicated and on a grand scale, not by the small elite of literati but by the reading public. In fact, a mere ten years after his death, as the Furioso was taken on by the Venetian printing industry, we begin to observe an explosion in the number of editions, with publishers finding it difficult to keep up with an ever increasing demand for copies of the poem. So much so that, towards the middle of the century – Bernardo Tasso tells us – it could be heard being chanted and recited everywhere.3 Now a new generation of critics and literati (Lodovico Dolce, Giraldi Cinthio, Giovan Battista Pigna, Girolamo Ruscelli, Lodovico Castelvetro amongst others) had a different problem on their hands. The poem’s merit was no longer in question; that was all too ← xvi | xvii → evident, now, and it would have been impossible to pass it over in silence. The problem that they faced was another: how could it be reconciled with the main branch of the Italian literary tradition, and what place should it occupy within it? This would turn out to be a long and controversial process, but the outcome was inevitable. Orlando furioso stopped being merely a chivalric poem belonging to a low genre (especially popular at the start of the century) and emerged as a literary work deserving to stand side by side with the canonical books of the Trecento as well as the classics of antiquity. It thus came to encapsulate at least in part the essence of what it means to be Italian, at a time when Italy did not even exist: Borges was right, then, when he called it a dream shared by a multitude of people, except that, by then, the dream had already become international; which is why its fifth centenary in 2016 was celebrated in Oxford – or Oxonia, as Ariosto called it (Fur., IX 69,4 A) – as well as in other places both within and outside Italy.4
If both the third and fourth centenary (in 1905 and 2005) of the publication of Don Quixote – whose author, by a strange twist of fate, passed away exactly 100 years after the Furioso’s first appearance in print – were commemorated by Cervantes’ admirers in the Spanish-speaking world and beyond, the year 2016 was the first time that the anniversary of a work by Ariosto was celebrated. Hitherto only the dates of his birth and death (1474 and 1533) had been remembered, and even then, only beginning from the nineteenth century. Yet the year 2016 marked not one, but two distinct anniversaries: firstly, the birth of Orlando furioso as a chivalric dream that has never ceased to capture the imagination of its readers; and secondly, and more specifically, the publication of the editio princeps in Ferrara on 22 April 1516. Ariosto spent the best part of his life (c. 1505–1532) writing and rewriting, polishing and enlarging his poem, while also adapting it to a new, fast-evolving taste, both cultural and linguistic, as well as to a changing historical context which dramatically altered its profile. Hence we have been left, not with one, but three versions of the same poem (published in 1516, ← xvii | xviii → 1521 and 1532, sometimes referred to as A, B and C), two of which, the first and the last, differ quite substantially from one another. Perhaps inevitably, the first Furioso was eclipsed as soon as the forty-six-canto edition made its appearance in 1532, even if the last time the forty-canto version saw the light of day in the sixteenth century was – remarkably – in 1539.5 After that, it fell into a centuries-long oblivion, but it did not remain forgotten forever. Eventually, towards the middle of the twentieth century a lively debate sprang up which tried to reassess and re-assert the merits of that early version, an effort that is still continuing today. What was different four centuries on was that the discussion could finally focus on its unique literary qualities and not just its supposed linguistic flaws, the main reason why the 1516 Furioso was overshadowed in the Renaissance. Seen from that perspective, the comparison between the two editions appears more complex and, not surprisingly, it continues to divide opinion. The critic who perhaps best characterised the problem is Cesare Segre, one of the greatest Ariosto scholars of all times who, sadly, did not live long enough to see this centenary. For him, the difference between the two versions of the poem lies less in their texts than in the temperament of their readers:
L’opera, quando esce dalle mani dell’autore, è ancora colma del suo entusiasmo, illuminata dalla sua ispirazione. L’autore può poi lavorarci sopra, perfezionarla, arricchirla; ma fa, in genere, un lavoro di letterato. In una polemica ormai lontana, s’erano voluti distinguere i critici gerontofili, portati a preferire i lavori ultimi degli scrittori, più rifiniti e armoniosi, e quelli gerontofobi, che preferirebbero le prime prove, più fresche e baldanzose.6
Fortunately, today there is no need to choose between the two Furiosi, for both, depending on one’s taste and disposition, can be read as original works in their own right and appreciated as a testament to two slightly different ← xviii | xix → authorial figures: a more youthful and a more inventive forty-two-year-old Ariosto, and an older but more polished and refined fifty-eight-year-old incarnation of the former.
The Oxford Ariosto Conference celebrated both these authors and their respective works through an event intended not only as a commemorative act but also, and above all, as an opportunity to deepen our understanding of Ariosto’s world and its enduring appeal. Indeed, it took him about ten years to create (or rather to ‘dream’) the first Orlando furioso; but 500 years of constant reading and interrogating the text have not been able to exhaust all its meaning or to reveal all its secrets. As we enter the second half of the millennium, the search continues and even intensifies.
The conference looked at the past but also at the present, including the time in between, considering, beside the poem itself, some of its countless offshoots and transpositions, in Italian as well as in other cultures, which represent key moments in the course its 500-year reception. After all, this is a work that helped to export the Italian Renaissance, and with it the Italian language, to the rest of world, inspiring other compositions, other adaptations, other versions, starting from those by Shakespeare (whose date of death was celebrated alongside that of Cervantes in the same year as the Ariosto centenary), written on English soil, where the present initiative originated.
Ultimately, the question arising from all this and which all the contributions collected in this volume endeavour to answer (albeit each in its own way), is about Ariosto and his standing in the present-day world. He was acutely aware of how Time, personified in the image of an old man (‘vecchio di faccia, e sì di membra snello’, XXXV 11,3 C), is constantly busy consigning names – even those that once seemed so important – to the river Lethe (or oblivion), and how few ever manage to escape his relentless work of obliteration. Poets in particular are rare, really true poets, that is: ‘Son, come i cigni, anco i poeti rari, / poeti che non sian del nome indegni’ (23,1–2). And yet, looking back and considering that his Furioso (at least in its last version) has never been out of print, Ariosto has done remarkably well so far: he has not only continued to enchant and make people dream, thus escaping the dreaded river, but he has also inspired other artists and other poets, such as Borges, and taught them how to be modern, or ← xix | xx → rather how to dream again. For that’s his secret to remain topical despite the passing of time.
Containing the proceedings of the Oxford Conference, this volume consists of fourteen essays written by renowned scholars as well as talented early career academics, who met in the Taylorian Institution over two days (16–17 June 2016). It brings together original contributions from researchers who belong to different schools of thought and use different methodological approaches, reflecting the breadth and scope of Ariosto studies today and offering fresh, thought-provoking insights into the poem and its afterlife. The volume is structured into three parts corresponding to the three main areas of inquiry discussed at the conference, namely ‘Tradition’, ‘Interpretation’, and ‘Reception’. The first of these comprises six essays situating Orlando furioso within the various literary traditions of its time. These include, above all, the chivalric tradition, that is, narratives of both the Carolingian and Arthurian cycles that form the context in which the Furioso is best understood as a libro di battaglia, or a chivalric poem. The importance of this chivalric context cannot be overstated. Conceived as a sequel to Boiardo’s Inamoramento de Orlando, the Furioso grew out of late medieval and early Renaissance chivalric literature, retaining many ties with it and appropriating many of its features. And yet there is a tendency to read Ariosto in isolation from the rest of the chivalric tradition. Already in the second half of the sixteenth century literary scholars were reluctant to acknowledge his chivalric sources and influences, preferring to read the Furioso as a work modelled on and inspired by the great epics of antiquity. Even the fact that Boiardo (one of the few of Ariosto’s chivalric predecessors to attract some limited interest from late sixteenth-century literati) and Ariosto borrowed characters from earlier chivalric texts seemed to be all but forgotten: it is Antonio Panizzi who in the 1830s dismantles the centuries-old myth (first mentioned, it would seem, in Lodovico Castelvetro’s 1570 commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics)7 that the Saracen characters in the two ← xx | xxi → Orlandos are named after Scandiano peasants.8 Panizzi contributed to the (re)discovery of Italian chivalric literature. But even after the publication of Pio Rajna’s monumental Le fonti dell’Orlando furioso Ariosto’s engagement with vernacular chivalric texts continued to receive less attention than it deserved,9 with many scholars tacitly or even explicitly agreeing with Italo Calvino, who famously declared that ‘il Furioso è un libro unico nel suo genere e può – quasi direi deve – esser letto senza far riferimento a nessun altro libro precedente o seguente’.10
Responding to the recent surge of scholarly interest in Ariosto’s vernacular chivalric sources,11 the essays gathered in the first part of this book take the opposite point of view, namely that a full appreciation of the Furioso’s significance and originality can only be gained by locating it in its original literary setting. The book opens with an essay by Daniela Delcorno Branca: appropriately so, given that she was also the key speaker whose presence greatly honoured the Oxford Conference. Her study is a detailed examination of the ways in which Ariosto draws on Arthurian literature. Daniela Delcorno Branca – who has devoted much of her long academic career to studying the Italian Arthurian tradition – explains how Ariosto appropriates such Arthurian topoi as the figure of the fairy and the use of enchanted weapons, by looking at the first canto in particular. Then the focus shifts to the Carolingian tradition. Annalisa Perrotta draws parallels between Pulci’s and Ariosto’s authorial voices, arguing that the ← xxi | xxii → narrator of the third Furioso comes to resemble that of Pulci’s Morgante. Elisa Martini analyses one of the most emblematic characters of European chivalric literature – Orlando – by tracing his evolution from Cieco da Ferrara’s Mambriano to the Furioso. Finally, Maria Pavlova revisits the thorny question of the relationship between Nicolò degli Agostini’s Quinto libro (1514) and the 1516 Furioso, in an attempt to work out which poet inspired the other. The remaining two essays of the first part both examine Ariosto’s engagement with his own work. Giada Guassardo’s essay explores the textual borrowings between Ariosto’s Rime and the first Furioso, while Ida Campeggiani considers the textual tradition of the Furioso, analysing the extant autograph fragments that were incorporated into the 1532 edition of the poem and the method used by the author.
The fact that this book emphasises the importance of the Furioso’s chivalric origins does not of course mean that Ariosto did not look beyond that genre. In fact, the second part, entitled ‘Interpretation’, contains essays that examine the Furioso from different perspectives, inserting it into a different, broader context. Ariosto was a true Renaissance man insofar as his interests were diverse and wide-ranging. A poem of great intellectual complexity, the Furioso reflects the atmosphere of intellectual curiosity that characterised the first decades of the sixteenth century, epitomising the breadth and depth of the Italian Renaissance. Ariosto was a contemporary of such emblematic Renaissance figures as Erasmus, Machiavelli and Castiglione. He was born merely two years after the death of Leon Battista Alberti, from whose Intercenales – the story entitled Somnium, to be precise – he draws one of the most celebrated episodes of the Furioso, namely the description of the valley of the Moon, where Orlando’s lost wits have ended up. What is striking is that one had to wait until the 1960s to see the first scholarly articles (by Remo Ceserani, Mario Martelli and Cesare Segre) on the presence of Alberti in Ariosto’s poem, which completely escaped the attention of Pio Rajna.12 If we consider the whole of the now more than 500-year-old history of the Furioso, it is only recently that scholars have ← xxii | xxiii → started to examine Ariosto’s work in light of the Renaissance humanist thought and the cultural developments of that period.13
Part II starts with Stefano Jossa discussing the editorial strategies of the publisher of the 1516 Furioso, Giovanni Mazocco del Bondeno, who was also responsible for publishing medical texts, Greek grammars and Girolamo Savonarola’s Prediche, texts that, according to Jossa, could help us understand the intellectual milieu into which the Furioso was born as well as the interests and expectations of Ariosto’s first readers. Franca Strologo’s essay analyses Ariosto’s treatment of illicit, homosexual love in the episode of Ricciardetto and Fiordispina, showing how he rewrites and combines a plethora of ancient, medieval and Renaissance sources belonging to different genres. Maiko Favaro draws a comparison between Ariosto’s portrayal of Ruggiero – the fictional founder of the Este dynasty and hence the dynastic hero – and Machiavelli’s Vita di Castruccio Castracani. Finally, Anna Klimkiewicz puts the Furioso in a wider European perspective, focusing on the fundamental themes of madness and error and exploring the poem’s utopian elements.
The third and conclusive part of the present book is devoted to the reception of the Furioso in Italy and beyond, from the sixteenth century to the present. Ariosto’s poem, as we have already seen, became an acknowledged ‘classic’ in less than fifty years from its initial appearance in print. The process of its canonisation has been treated in numerous studies, including Daniel Javitch’s monograph, now itself a classic of Ariosto criticism;14 but, given the sheer vastness of the subject, this remains a field very much open to further research and stimulating discoveries, as the studies collected in Part III demonstrate. Of these, the first two investigate little known episodes from the history of the poem’s reception in late Renaissance and baroque Italy. Ambra Anelotti looks at Il Furioso spirituale – a religious rewriting of the poem – by Vincenzo Marino, a Sicilian priest who admired Ariosto’s work and at the same time abhorred its immorality. Francesco Lucioli, by ← xxiii | xxiv → contrast, explores a seventeenth-century tramutazione of a very different kind: a poem on syphilis that satirically engages with the Furioso.
The remainder of Part III is mostly concerned with the reception of the Furioso in cultural contexts outside Italy. These do not include Britain, which at first might seem a puzzling omission, considering that the event from which this volume arises took place in the land of Shakespeare. However, there is a reason for this: 2016 witnessed numerous Ariosto-inspired events all over the world, including a two-day conference organised by the British Academy, which was expressly devoted to Ariosto’s reception in British culture.15 Instead, the remaining two contributors take us beyond and look at continental Europe and more distant and even exotic places. Christian Rivoletti examines Jean Honoré Fragonard’s artistic representations of the Furioso’s narrator, showing how Fragonard’s interest in this figure was sparked off by Voltaire and a new way of reading Ariosto’s poem that emerged in eighteenth-century France. Finally, Marco Dorigatti takes the reader on an imaginative spatial as well as temporal journey that starts in sixteenth-century Ferrara and ends in the present day. Given that his study was conceived as a ‘mystery tour’ in which the journey’s stops are not to be revealed before they are reached, they will come as a surprise, showing the degree to which Ariosto was transformed, re-invented and re-interpreted over the course of its 500-year history.
The time has come to bid farewell to this book and place it in the readers’ hands, so that they too may join us and ‘dream again on things already dreamed’.
- XXVI, 350
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Softcover)
- Publication date
- 2019 (April)
- Italian Renaissance literature Orlando furioso Ludovico Ariosto
- Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2019. XXVI, 350 pp., 3 fig. col., 8 fig. b/w, 1 table