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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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Fiordispina’s English Afterlives

Fiordispina’s English Afterlives

From Harington to Ali Smith

(p.125) 7 Fiordispina’s English Afterlives
Ariosto, the Orlando Furioso and English Culture

Ita Mac Carthy

British Academy

This essay examines the fortunes in English literature of one of Ariosto’s minor characters, the Spanish princess Fiordispina. It focuses, in particular, on the very different ways in which English authors Sir John Harington and John Gay cope (or fail to cope) with the abundant gender confusion and free-floating sexual desire of the Fiordispina episode in the former’s Orlando Furioso Translated into Heroical Verse (1591) and the latter’s ‘The Story of Fiordispina’ (c. 1720) and Achilles: A play (1732). Framed by Ali Smith’s reflections in Girl Meets Boy (2007) on rewriting old stories for new circumstances, it draws on relevance theory and offers new readings of how Harington and Gay amplify, abridge or alternatively alter the original in accordance with their need to be relevant to the readers for whom they write.

Keywords:   Fiordispina, afterlives, Sir John Harington, John Gay, Ali Smith, gender confusion, sexual desire, relevance theory

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