Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Ariosto, Lodovico

(1474-1533) Italian poet whose Orlando Furioso (1516; exp 1532; trans Sir John Harington [1560-1612] as Orlando Furioso in English Heroical Verse, 1591 UK) is a direct continuation of Orlando Innamorato (1487) by Matteo Boiardo (1434-1494), taking up the tale at the point where the earlier poem stops short, due to Boiardo's death. Orlando (or Roland) and the other knights of Charlemagne's France remain variously ensorcelled through the agency of the pagan princess, Angelica, and others in the service of the Saracens; they spend much of their time – conveniently for the development of the main strands of the plot – in the coils of an illusory, sorcerer-spawned Edifice. LA's continuation emphasizes the Picaresque and the Marvellous, incorporating battles and jousts and adventures in a fashion which makes the epic a fitting Taproot Text for 20th-century Adventurer Fantasy; in the most famous single episode a central character falls under the spell of Alcina on her magic island. Orlando's madness (the title, literally translated, is Crazy Roland) visits him after a romantic betrayal, and causes his wits to fly to the Moon, where a colleague travels to recapture them.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Ariosto: Ariosto Furioso, a Romance for an Alternate Renaissance (1980) places the real author in an alternate version of Italian history, one in which Lorenzo the Magnificent lives 30 more years and in which Ariosto's dreams of a fantasy America – described at length in terms which replicate Orlando Furioso – seem briefly to augur an Italian conquest of the new continent. [JC]

Lodovico Ariosto


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.