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Orlando Furioso as Paradoxical Source of Early Italian Epic Theory

Daniel Javitch, New York University

February 20, 2018 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 106 McCormick

Program in Italian Studies
Illustration from Canto 11

Although Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso was acknowledged to be a superior romance to the ones that preceded it, the poem was included in the disparagement of the genre and was regularly invoked as an example of what the epic poet ought not to do. These attacks against Ariosto’s bestseller might be said to define epic by negation, dwelling as they do on the failure of the Furioso to observe some of the epic requisites set down by Aristotle. In this lecture hosted by the Program in Italian Studies, Daniel Javitch will argue that, while the influence of the Poetics is very discernible in the discourse about epic produced in Italy from the midcentury on, Ariosto’s actual and deviant practice is equally influential, and serves to generate rules which counter that practice.


Supported by the Eberhard L. Faber 1915 Memorial Fund in the Humanities Council


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