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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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Entertainment and Irony: The Orlando Furioso from Modern to Postmodern

Entertainment and Irony: The Orlando Furioso from Modern to Postmodern

(p.286) 15 Entertainment and Irony: The Orlando Furioso from Modern to Postmodern
Ariosto, the Orlando Furioso and English Culture

Stefano Jossa

British Academy

Less popular than in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso has however made an impact on Anglo-American fiction. Loved by Samuel Beckett, who called risolino ariostesco (Ariosto’s smile) the poetic strategy of his preferred artists, and C. S. Lewis, who famously claimed that his utmost happiness would be to be always sitting by a window overlooking the sea, reading Ariosto’s masterpiece, Orlando Furioso proves more and more influential in contemporary fiction when it comes to epic modes, narrative techniques, fantasy and sci-fi: taken as a source of inspiration by both well-educated and popular writers and filmmakers, such as, among many others, David Lodge in Small World, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro in Ariosto and Jim Jarmusch in Mystery Train, Orlando Furioso proves in tune with two keywords of our contemporary age, irony and entertainment. This essay will explore his legacy in twentieth-century Anglo-American fiction in order to assess its potential in our times.

Keywords:   irony, Anglo-American fiction, entertainment, narrative techniques, fantasy, sci-fi, C. S. Lewis, Samuel Beckett

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