Marie's Reviews > Orlando Furioso

Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto
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's review
Aug 01, 10

Read from June 30 to August 01, 2010

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.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by David (new)

David How could you possibly describe The Faerie Queen as dreary? Eat your words please.

Marie David wrote: "How could you possibly describe The Faerie Queen as dreary? Eat your words please."

nom nom nom tasty words. C'mon, entitled to my opinion.

In fact, here it is in detail:

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