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Orlando Furioso

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,924 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
The only unabridged prose translation of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso--a witty parody of the chivalric legends of Charlemagne and the Saracen invasion of France--this version faithfully recaptures the entire narrative and the subtle meanings behind it.
Paperback, 656 pages
Published January 28th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1532)
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The Iliad/The Odyssey by HomerThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienBeowulf by UnknownThe Odyssey by HomerThe Epic of Gilgamesh by Anonymous
World's Greatest Epics
26th out of 156 books — 79 voters
The Odyssey by HomerThe Iliad by HomerBeowulf by UnknownThe Divine Comedy by Dante AlighieriParadise Lost by John Milton
Best of Epic Poetry
32nd out of 99 books — 162 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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J.G. Keely
Apr 01, 2009 J.G. Keely rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 17, 2007 Matthew rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Dec 26, 2015 Geoff marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
My brother got me a hardcover 1st of the new translation of the Furioso for Xmas - hell yes bro!
Mar 24, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 11, 2015 Joseph rated it really liked it
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
Sep 29, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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 ...more
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’
Adamo Lanna
Sep 07, 2010 Adamo Lanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poesia, 500
L'Orlando Furioso fu una bella scoperta. Dopo secoli passati a leggere fantasy un giorno poi mi venne lo sfizio di leggere Ariosto. Avevo la diffidenza tipica di chi ha fatto il liceo classico e il suo prof saltava a piè pari tutte le ottave. Niente da fare, ottava dopo ottava cacchio mi pigliava assai. Certo le storie sono spesso tirate per i capelli però non ci scordiamo che parliamo di 500 anni fa. Ariosto non lo conosceva Beautiful. Così mi ci sono appassionato e ho letto tutto da inizio a f ...more
Le livre est parfait, splendide, ecrit ca en 1521, et reprend Roland amoureux de Boilardo ecrit en 1490 et montre un interet pour les faits chevaleresques et l'amour . Il traite du heros eponime, Roland dans ses eclats heroiques, exemplaires et hyperboliques dans les grands espaces a travers l'Europe, L'Asie, la Mediterranee, l'Afrique, dans des lieux pastoraux ou les personnages coulent leurs chagrins d'amour contrarie ou au contraire, se complaisent en amour epanuies et comblees dans des ils e ...more
Aug 01, 2010 Marie rated it really liked it
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
Le donne, i cavallier, l'arme, gli amori,
le cortesie, l'audaci imprese io canto[...]

Con alcuni libri accade così: come per l'amore a prima vista, lo capisci dall'inizio se ti appassionerà... Questo per me è stato Ariosto. Perciò non ve lo posso spiegare né mi sento di dirvi di leggerlo... è troppo "personale"... L'ho letto per dovere, ma, poi, sono stata molto contenta di questa forzatura... come una pianta legata al sostegno per crescere diritta, puoi non apprezzare il laccio, ma al sole ci arr
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 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 pre
Mar 25, 2011 Amandine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Passionnant! Moi qui étais assez sceptique face à cette "reprise" de Calvino, j'ai été très agréablement surprise et suis sous le charme. Calvino est un excellent conteur et a admirablement repris ce poème de l'Arioste. Sa narration est entrecoupée d'extraits du poème même: il s'agit davantage d'une co-écriture que d'une reprise totale. Cela donne malheureusement parfois lieu à des répétitions que je jugeais assez inutiles, mais dans l'ensemble, c'est une vraie réussite!

Dans ce poème qui porte l
Nick Bond
Mar 31, 2013 Nick Bond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 25, 2015 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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
Jul 15, 2014 Albert rated it it was amazing
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!

Dec 04, 2008 David rated it really liked it
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...)
Nov 05, 2015 Jans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Prachtig ! Puur leesgenot. Wervelend avontuur. Kandans, rijm.
Uitstekende vertaling, ambacht. Ike Cialona, vertaalster, onvoldoende geprezen!
Dus: Televisie buitengooien, haardvuur aan en lezen! Luidop lezen! Het is de moeite.
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.
Dec 20, 2010 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jul 30, 2010 Madeline rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: minor Spanish nobility
Recommended to Madeline by: Torquato Tasso
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: [
Feb 18, 2015 Gerardo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
C'è tutto quello che si vorrebbe trovare in un romanzo. E anche di più, vista la bellezza dei versi. Un capolavoro assoluto che consiglio a tutti coloro che vogliono lasciarsi andare ad una storia avvincente, anche facendo fronte a tutte le difficoltà linguistiche.
Ronald Morton
Feb 24, 2016 Ronald Morton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
***This review is specific to the Oxford World Classics edition***

First, had I noticed at the time of order I likely would have skipped this version as it is a prose translation which I tend to avoid. That said, the translator provides a pretty good explanation for his choice in his introduction - and talks a good amount of shit about the other translations at the same time - to where I was at least ready to give it a shot.

To me, a translation succeeds by how much I love a work - that's likely n
Peter Aronson
Jul 01, 2015 Peter Aronson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Adam Stevenson
Jul 31, 2015 Adam Stevenson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This translation really asks questions about the nature of the art. How much of this book is Slavitt’s and how much Ariosto’s?

Slavic takes a Princess Bride approach, chopping out whole cantos to make a ‘good bits’ version. The comparison to Princess Bride is furthered by his fondness for bad puns, silly rhymes and some anachronistic humour.

In some ways it doesn’t matter who’s book it is, as long as I enjoyed it. Which I did enormously. It is such an epic, daft story with sea monsters and hermits
Gijs Grob
Het vreemdste aan deze klassieker is dat het een vervolg is, en wel op het onvoltooid gebleven 'Orlando Innamorato' van de duidelijk veel minder bekende auteur Matteo Maria Boiardo. We springen dan ook meteen bij Canto I in het diepe, zonder inleiding of wat, om de draad op te pakken waar Boiardo die achterliet.

Beide boeken staan aan het eind van een lange traditie van ridderromans over Karel de Grote, begonnen bij het Het Roelandslied, maar waar bijv. ook 'Karel ende Elegast' en 'De Vier Heemsk
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
Sep 26, 2014 Alan rated it really liked it
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
May 24, 2010 Surreysmum rated it liked it
[These notes were made in 1984:]. Renaissance Italian poetry, translated into English prose. Well, it took me long enough, but I finally finished this on Feb. 10. Fascinating, very complicated, and one can see how our forefathers would find it rather frivolous. Nonetheless, it does have structure. Alfonso is the most mature of the heroes, and gets partial instruction on the moon. Ruggiero, the most important (because the founder of the d'Este line) goes through a 3-part neo-platonic education - ...more
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  • Jerusalem Delivered
  • Orlando Innamorato (Orlando in Love)
  • Canzoniere
  • The Book of the Courtier
  • Canti
  • The Heptameron
  • Mandragola
  • Henry IV
  • The Romance of the Rose
  • Vita Nuova
  • Orphic Songs
  • A Woman
  • Cuttlefish Bones
  • Vita d'un uomo - Tutte le poesie
  • That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana
  • Orlando Furioso di Ludovico Ariosto raccontato da Italo Calvino
  • Don Giovanni in Sicilia
  • The Iguana
Ludovico Ariosto was an Italian poet. He is best known as the author of the romance epic Orlando Furioso (1516). 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 side plots. Ariosto composed the poem in the ottava rima rhyme scheme and introduced narr ...more
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