The Construction of Ariosto in Early Nineteenth-Century British Periodicals
The nineteenth century in Britain saw a massive growth in both literacy rates and the popularity of Italian culture. Readers consumed Italian culture through popular periodicals, while British writers identified with Dante, Boccaccio and Tasso. However, the reception of Ariosto was more problematic. While the digressive style and content of Orlando Furioso offered literary freedom to the Pisa Circle of writers, including Lord Byron, the Shelleys and the radical essayist Leigh Hunt, more conservative writers celebrated Ariosto’s embodiment of the chivalric tradition. By exploring the ways in which Ariosto is constructed in both the Pisa Circle’s short-lived periodical The Liberal and Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, this essay argues that Ariosto became a vehicle through which to claim cultural authority for radical and conservative writers alike.
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