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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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Walter Scott and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso

Walter Scott and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso

(p.186) 10 Walter Scott and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso
Ariosto, the Orlando Furioso and English Culture

Susan Oliver

British Academy

Walter Scott proclaimed Ariosto his favourite Romance poet and Orlando Furioso his preferred epic. Byron subsequently called him the Ariosto of the North, and Ariosto the southern Scott. For Scott, the power of words to ‘make a ladye seem a knight’ or transform a sheeling into a palace associates Scottish folk culture with necromantic tales from medieval Italy and France. His life’s work shows the influence of the Italian Renaissance epic tradition to which the Furioso belongs. Scott’s collected ballads, narrative poetry, and novels demonstrate a complex response to Ariosto’s signature techniques of imitatio and entrelacement. His interest in oral literary history also connects him to improvisatori traditions. Scott’s interest in Ariosto extended beyond his writing career. Reading Orlando became a self-prescribed palliative for ‘mental and bodily fever’. The prospect of an ‘Orlando cure’ for frenzy is intriguing. This chapter explores the connections between Scott and Ariosto’s Furioso.

Keywords:   Scott, Byron, ballads, narrative poetry, imitatio, entrelacement, improvisatori, Romance

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