The introduction presents the Orlando Furioso, tracing briefly its gestation and identifying its major themes and concerns – love, war, moral, social and ethical issues. It assesses the importance of the first edition, published in 1516, and discusses its continuing presence in the subsequent versions of the poem, and hence its influence on later adaptations and reactions to Ariosto’s poem. The chapter introduces the four principal sections of the volume – the Furioso in the visual arts; from the Elizabethan period to the Enlightenment; from Gothic to Romantic; and text and translation in the modern era. In presenting each of these, the introduction surveys the wider cultural contexts for the reception and influence of the Furioso in art, literature and music, the varying critical responses displayed over the centuries to Ariosto’s poem, and the myriad ways in which creative writers, artists and musicians in the English-speaking world have mined the Furioso as a never-ending source of inspiration.
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