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Ariosto, the Orlando Furioso and English Culture$
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Jane E. Everson, Andrew Hiscock, and Stefano Jossa

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266502

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266502.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 29 July 2021

Reading the Poem ‘in the Very Picture’

Reading the Poem ‘in the Very Picture’

New Evidence on Harington’s Original Sin

(p.50) 3 Reading the Poem ‘in the Very Picture’
Ariosto, the Orlando Furioso and English Culture

Luca Degl’Innocenti

British Academy

The international success of the Orlando Furioso would be hard to describe without the accompanying images. Virtually no early modern edition of Ariosto’s poem was published without a visual paratext. The English reception of the Orlando Furioso was no different, as illustrations were a vital component in the first edition of Harington’s translation (1591), whose 46 full-page plates imitated those published in Venice in 1584, with few and yet very significant changes. This essay discusses some new findings about the visual sources of the scenes added to the plate for Book 28, which shed new light on Harington’s approach to the Orlando Furioso and to Italian literature and culture. On the one hand, the picture shows that he knew an edition of the anonymous excerpt of canto 28 which circulated in Italy under the title of Historia del Re di Pavia, thus confirming the prominence and possibly also the priority of that canto in Harington’s work on the poem. On the other hand, some obscene additions aimed at enhancing the visibility of Ariosto’s most lascivious novella in defiance of the Puritan attacks against the Italianate vogue, appear so clearly related to the underground circulation of Aretino’s Sonetti lussuriosi in Elizabethan England as to urge a reconsideration of the balance between moralism and hedonism in Harington’s theory and practice of poetry.

Keywords:   Harington, Furioso illustrations, moralism, Elizabethan England, Aretino

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