Read Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto Free Online
Book Title: Orlando Furioso|
The author of the book: Ludovico Ariosto
Date of issue: January 28th 1999
ISBN 13: 9780192836779
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 5.52 MB
Edition: Oxford University Press
Read full description of the books Orlando Furioso: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 by her virtue', and it does not escape Ariosto that making all of them remarkable only makes more obvious the fact that none of them are.
Ariosto's style flies on wings, lilting here and there, darting, soaring. He makes extensive use of metafiction, both addressing the audience by means of a semi-fictionalized narrator and by philosophical explorations of the art of poetry itself, and the nature of the poet and his patron.
As with most epics, Ariosto's asides to the greatness of his patron are as jarring as any 30-second spot. His relationship to his various patrons was extremely difficult for him--he was paid a mere pittance and constantly drawn away from his writing to deliver bad news to the pope (if you're thinking that's a bad job, Ariosto would agree--the See nearly had him killed).
This is likely the reason that these moments of praise fall to the same unbelievable hyperbole as the rest. His patrons could hardly be angry at him for constantly praising them, but his readers will surely be able to recognize that his greatest compliments are the most backhanded, and merely serve to throw into stark contrast the hypocrisy of man--tell me a man is great once, and I will believe you, tell me five times, and I'll start to think you're covering for something.
Since we will all be oblivious hypocrites at some point (for most of us, nearly all the time), the only useful defense is finding the humility to admit our flaws. Great men never have it so easy: they cannot accept their mistakes, but must instead be buried by them.
Though Ariosto often lands on the side of the Christians, his Muslims are mighty, honorable, well-spoken, and just as (un)reasonable in their faith. The only thing which seems to separate the two sides is their petty squabbling.
Likewise, he takes a surprisingly liberal view of sex and gender equality, with lady knights who are not only the match for any man, but who need no marriage to make them whole--they are women with or without a man beside them. He even presents homosexuality amongst both sexes, though with a rather light hand.
His epic is not the stalwartly serious sort--like Homer, Virgil, or Dante--Ariosto is a humanist, and has none of the fetters of nationalism or religious idealism to keep him chained. His view of man is a contrary, shifting, absurd thing. The greatest achievements of man are great only in the eyes of man.
By showing both sides of a conflict, by supporting each in turn, Ariosto creates a space for the author to inhabit. He is not tied to some system of beliefs, but to observation, to recognition--not to the ostensible truth of humanity, but to our continuing story.
Ariosto took a great leap from Petrarch's self-awareness: while Petrarch constantly searched and argued in his poems, he found a sublime comfort in the grand unknown. Ariosto is the great iconoclast, not only asking why of the most obvious conflicts, but of the grandest assumptions. The universal mystery is only as sacred as it is profane.
Ariosto is also funny, surprising, and highly imaginative. Though his work is defined by its philosophical view, this view is developed slowly and carefully. It is never stated outright, but is rather the medium of the story: a thin, elegant skein which draws together all characters and conflicts.
The surface of the story itself is a light-hearted, impossible comedy. It is no more impossible than the grand heights of any other epic, but only seems so because it is not girt tightly with high-minded seriousness. Perhaps Ariosto's greatest gift is that he is doing essentially the same thing all the other epic authors do, the same situations and characters, but he makes you laugh to see it.
To be able to look at life simply as it is and laugh is the only freedom we will ever know. It is all wisdom. For this gift, I hail fair Ariosto: the greatest of all epicists, all poets, all writers, all wits, all humanists, all men--never to be surpassed.
Read information about the authorLudovico 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 narratorial commentary throughout the work.
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