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The Liberation of Jerusalem

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,105 ratings  ·  73 reviews
'The bitter tragedy of human life - horrors of death, attack, retreat, advance, and the great game of Destiny and Chance.'

In The Liberation of Jerusalem (Gerusalemme liberata, 1581), Torquato Tasso set out to write an epic to rival the Iliad and the Aeneid. Unlike his predecessors, he took his subject not from myth but from history: the Christian capture of Jerusalem duri
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 454 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Oxford University Press (first published 1581)
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May 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How wonderful! I can say that I hated it so much during high school and now nearly 25 years later i love it much !!
The reading was long and tiring, challenging if not sometimes impossible to understand events under a clear historical and allegorical basis. The story tells the deeds of Geoffrey of Bouillon who went on a crusade to free Jerusalem. Many events and characters will be presented in the various songs, so that the exact plot is difficult to understand without the help of some epic compe
Absolutely beautiful work, and my favorite epic poem - hands down.

I had never heard of this work until I took a class called "From Homer to Star Wars" in which we, as the name implies, started with Homer's epics, and followed major epics through to Star Wars. There are several comments which I wish to make about this incredible piece.

1) The poetry is incredible: The description of Satan put my hair on end and left me speechless. Also, note the brilliance of the description of the soldiers march
Jerusalem Delivree
By Torquato Tasso (1544-1595)

Tasso was an Italian poet of the 16th century.

He published this major work in 1580 which is an epic imaginative and poetic version of the historic First Crusade and the siege and battles before Jerusalem. (1099)

This edition is a new French translation from the original medieval Italian original.
The language is still colourful and dramatic, but the beauty of the original rhymed style is lost.

I suggest that a reader interested in the beauty of Tasso’s
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, poetry
A true epic, in scope and delivery and Wickert's work is what every translator should strive for.

This is a highly fictionalised rendering of the First Crusade's taking of Jerusalem. Hints of 'The Iliad' and 'The Aeneid' are everywhere, although Tasso's depiction of war is more somber and less heroic. His evil council of Hell in turn influenced Milton's 'Paradise Lost'.

Godfrey of Bouillon, heroic Tancred and invincible Rinaldo vie for supremacy with the likes of Solyman the Sultan, unstoppable A
Petruccio Hambasket IV
I can't sing enough praise for these 20 cantos that Tasso laid down for us in 1581. I already thought that 'Orlando Furioso' was a clear cut masterpiece, and this might just be better (in terms of late Renaissance epic poetry). Glory and tragedy is rendered through poetic stanzas which depict a highly imaginary crusader setting. You can open this textbook size book and flip to any given page, point at a block of text and be blown away by Tasso's poetic ability (and thats without context plus tra ...more
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full review at Vintage Novels.

"Reading Tasso I was struck by how similar epic poems are to the modern epic blockbuster movie. Think of the Ridley Scott-style oevre. You have blithe disregard for historical accuracy, unbelievable feats of arms, and completely apocryphal romance subplots, often starring hilariously waiflike action girls who mow down enemies by the score.

Believe it or not, when our forefathers sat down to write blockbuster poems, this was more or less the approach they took, and Ta
Czarny Pies
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone prepared to struggle throught the conventions of Renaissance Literature.
I strongly believe that all serious readers should at least once per year take a trip back in time to read something from another era. In this manner, Jerusalem Delivered is well worth considering

Jerusalem delivered is a great work which shows how close to the classical period European culture was during the Renaissance. In English translation, this epic poem written in Italian is very similar in feel to Virgil's Latin Epic the Aenid. The author who was a purely a man of letters writes intermina
An Idler
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the foreword to his Aeneid, Dryden mentions Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata in the same breath as Homer and Virgil. That piqued my interest, and I made an impulse purchase of Anthony Esolen's translation. I'm glad I did.

The poem is primarily a bloody epic about the First Crusade and the siege of Jersualem in 1099. Esolen and Tasso present combat as abrupt, violent, and passionate. The descriptions are vivid and varied - especially compared to the tedium of, say, Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. And w
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: italian
I've been on the fence about reading this for over 4 years now and I have to say I am very happy I finally took the plunge.
It was a great read. Tasso weaves a complex narrative of love, faith, and duty. The cantos dealing with the mission to bring Rinaldo back to the crusaders dragged quite a bit. It took me quite a bit to power through it. Otherwise, I would highly recommend this epic.
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Near the end of the year, I was so happy to discover the Renaissance epic Jerusalem Delivered, written by the Italian poet Torquato Tasso. Anthony Esolen’s translation is quite clear, lucid, and readable. I love the battles, the romance, the piety, the free-flowing form, the adventures. It’s all quite great. Next year I hope to read Orlando Furioso, which I hear is even funnier and cooler than Tasso’s poem. I think the adjective I can use to best describe it is C.S. Lewis’s own adjective: “edify ...more
Jan 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Milton, Spenser, Dante, Virgil, Homer or Ariosto
Beautiful and captivating, even in the (often rhyming) verse translation expertly, brilliantly executed by Anthony Esolen. I never thought that I'd enjoy a verse translation of anything so much.

I thought I was reading another tale in the Carolingian Cycle, especially because one of the main characters has the same name as one of Charlemagne's foremost knights, and because Tasso's name constantly occurs beside that of Ludovico Ariosto, author of Orlando Furioso. Instead this story takes place dur
Roman Clodia
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In the Gerusalemme Liberata Tasso sets out, and succeeds, in writing what may be the quintessential Renaissance epic: drawing obviously on Homer and Vergil he doesn't just try to match classical epic but to over-reach it. By Christianising the heroic quest he gives a different kind of moral and spiritual framework to the genre which is both recognisable and transformed.

But this is no dry, dull read: exciting, dramatic and passionate, this is set during the first crusade as the Christian army bes
”O ye scourge of the enemies of Christ!
My army, conqueror of the Orient!
Behold the final day, the day has come
Which you have craved, for which your toil’s been spent,
And all the rebel populations have
Merged here against you, all with heaven’s consent,
That you may, with your foes in unison,
Fight many wars and win them all in one!

Canto 20 Stanza 14

I enjoyed every bit of this. Heroic speeches, noble charges, last stands, cowardice, betrayal, courage, and valor on a grand scale; everything you would
Apr 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: geeks
SO, this story is kind of ridiculous (and, obviously, I would have liked it more had it been about Philippe Auguste) but it's also incredibly vibrant. Nash has a very readable prose translation, and the footnotes indicate he also has a genuine affection for the work, which is nice. As epics go, it rates below the Odyssey, but above the Iliad and Virgil, and definitely above Roland and the Cid. I'd like to read Ariosto and Boiardo now, because (I know this means Cervantes will never forgive me) I ...more
Most things I've read comparing Ariosto to Tasso seem to think Tasso the better poet. While I enjoyed this poem, I loved Ariosto. This is well worth the read - I just liked Orlando Furioso more. ...more
Zackery Arbela
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over the last decade or so, fantasy fiction has emerged from a geeky underground genre to become a real cultural force in it;s own right. Go into any bookstore (or just check the Amazon sales rankings...) and you'll see and endless line of titles featuring wizards, warlocks, damsels in distress (or causing distress) and the whole sword swinging, shining knight and evil wizard deal providing fuel to the imagination. Any day of the week you can turn on a tv or head into a movie theatee and see CGI ...more
Thom Swennes
Torquato Tasso (1544-1595) wrote Jerusalem Delivered in 1575 (published in 1581). This poetic epic can easily be compared to the Iliad and Odyssey by Homer. Even though Tasso isn’t a household name, his works have weathered the test of time and are still highly inspirational. Basically Jerusalem Delivered is an account of the First Crusade (1096-1099) to the Holy Lands. I admit that epic poetry isn’t my primary forte but I can still see the literary value in this antiquated historical work. This ...more
James Violand
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone.
Shelves: own
This is an epic poem about the First Crusade to liberate the Holy Land. Little read today, it was once consider a must read during the Renaissance. Tasso imitates Homer and Virgil in composing this work and pits love against duty within the main characters. A work that should be resurrected.
I've enjoyed my few encounters with epic poetry, and Jerusalem Delivered certainly delivers. The history packed into this drama of the first crusade is fascinating, and the fictional scenarios and characters only add to the tale. ...more
Nov 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hey, what if Orlando Furioso was a bunch shorter and way more dour?? Jerusalem Delivered is kind of uneven, but there are several beautiful high points, like Tasso's detailed descriptions of siege warfare. ...more
I recommend Edward Fairfax's seventeenth-century translation, if you can find it. ...more
Jerusalem Delivered, also known as The Liberation of Jerusalem (Italian: La Gerusalemme liberata), is an epic poem by the Italian autor Torquato Tasso, first published in 1581, that tells a largely mythified version of the First Crusade in which Christian knights, led by Godfrey of Bouillon, battle Muslims in order to take Jerusalem. Tasso began work on the poem in the mid-1560s. It was completed in April, 1575 and that summer the poet read his work to Duke Alfonso of Ferrara and Lucrezia, Duche ...more
Hanna W.
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I only read a select number of Cantos from this book. I'll say straightaway: Tasso stands alongside Ariosto as one of my favourite authors ever. Before reading Italian literature I was very hesitant with poetry regardless of whether it was epic or romantic; tragic or comedic. Ultimately, in Ariosto and Tasso I found the type of literature I thought the English Romantics were lacking - that is, literature of melodrama and marvel and grandeur; literature that dealt with the immense complexity of r ...more
Jay Eckard
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is probably only going to be read with someone with an antiquarian interest -- I did because of its influence on English epics like The Faerie Queene and Paradise Lost.

I didn't go into with very high hopes -- how can anyone now really get too excited about what is essentially a propaganda piece for the Catholic church's actions in the First Crusade? But I was fairly wrong. Tasso's poem is (at least in places) more complex than that. The Muslim foes are given what was to me a surprisin
Peter Crofts
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review is for the Esolen translation.

You've got to approach Jerusalem Delivered on its own terms. If not, it's going to do nothing but irritate and, occasionally, enrage. Violence can be righteous. Woman is the temptress, the only good ones are chaste and respectful of men. A gang of flea-bitten, semi-barbarians (at the time) from all across Europe were God's instrument to drive the infidel out of Jerusalem.

If you can stomach this, then you're in for a ride. I picked it up it out of histo
To described it in a few short words, I would probably say that it's Illiad of the New age. It's heavily influenced by Homer's work,as well as Vergil's Aeneas and Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto (although I haven't read that poem, just to mention). Characters presented in the book show homages to famous ancient heroes. Same as the events. The plot revolves around the siege of Jerusalem during the First Crusade and the final battle of Ascalon,as we are presented to various and colorful groups ...more
David Radavich
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Torquato Tasso is one of world's great poets, and JERUSALEM DELIVERED is his undeservedly neglected masterwork - although his short lyrics are absolutely exquisitie and I re-read them regularly. JERUSALEM DELIVERED tells the enchanting, disturbing story of the First Crusade with fanciful adornments but, like Homer's depiction of Hector in the ILIAD, surprisingly even-handed in depicting the nobility and essential dignity of the Sultan. A book to spend some time with, particularly given the curre ...more
Reading epic poetry is always difficult, but I was surprised at how easily I read Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered. A story about love, war, magic, religion, hate; written in beautiful verse and holding some of the most touching poetry I've ever read. After getting used to the form, it turned into a real page-turner! ...more
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Flashy and beautiful but I feel like it would be better in Italian.

He carries some traditions from the Greek epics but also expands upon them. I'm not quite sure why it was recommended for a course on American literature though...
Note to self: Get the Fairfax translation. Here is why.

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Torquato Tasso (11 March 1544 – 25 April 1595) was an Italian poet of the 16th century, best known for his poem La Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Delivered) (1580), in which he depicts a highly imaginative version of the combats between Christians and Muslims at the end of the First Crusade, during the siege of Jerusalem. He died a few days before he was due to be crowned as the king of poets by ...more

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