Renaissance Transactions

Ariosto and Tasso

Renaissance Transactions

Duke Monographs in Medieval and Renaissance Studies

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Book Pages: 336 Illustrations: Published: March 1999

Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism, Pre-Modern Studies > Medieval and Early Modern Studies

The controversy generated in Italy by the writings of Ludovico Ariosto and Torquato Tasso during the sixteenth century was the first historically important debate on what constitutes modern literature. Applying current critical theories and tools, the essays in Renaissance Transactions reexamine these two provocative poet-thinkers, the debate they inspired, and the reasons why that debate remains relevant today.
Resituating these writers’ works in the context of the Renaissance while also offering appraisals of their uncanny “postmodernity,” the contributors to this volume focus primarily on Ariosto’s Orlando furioso and Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata. Essays center on questions of national and religious identity, performative representation, and the theatricality of literature. They also address subjects regarding genre and gender, social and legal anthropology, and reactionary versus revolutionary writing. Finally, they advance the historically significant debate about what constitutes modern literature by revisiting with new perspective questions first asked centuries ago: Did Ariosto invent a truly national, and uniquely Italian, literary genre—the chivalric romance? Or did Tasso alone, by equaling the epic standards of Homer and Virgil, make it possible for a literature written in Italian to attain the status of its classical Greek and Latin antecedents?
Arguing that Ariosto and Tasso are still central to the debate on what constitutes modern narrative, this collection will be invaluable to scholars of Italian literature, literary history, critical theory, and the Renaissance.

Contributors. Jo Ann Cavallo, Valeria Finucci, Katherine Hoffman, Daniel Javitch, Constance Jordan, Ronald L. Martinez, Eric Nicholson, Walter Stephens, Naomi Yavneh, Sergio Zatti


“[B]oth well written and diversified. . . . The book, with its many viewpoints, seems to be indispensable to anyone studying Renaissance poetry.” — Roberta V. Ricci , MLN

“[E]ngaging . . . . [D]emonstrate[s], admirably and repeatedly, the value and jouissance of reading Renaissance texts against the context of their original cultures and in light of new methodologies.” — Madison U. Sowell , Renaissance Quarterly

“Of major importance to all students of the Renaissance, these learned, careful studies of the chivalric epic and romance explore such subjects as genre, the relationship of the chivalric epic to the developing theater (especially the melodrama/opera), and the use of motifs such as deception. . . . The essays are uniformly excellent in style and content.” — J. R. Buchert , Choice

“The success of [Finucci’s] endeavor is measured in the rich variety of the contributions and their compelling case for future epic explorations. . . . Readers with an interest in Comparative Literature will appreciate the deeper understanding of epic genre and genre theory that underlies the book’s formation. The studies on themes of dissimulation, disguise, tricks, and deception speak to a broader discourse on the strategies of representation.” — Nancy Dersofi , Bryn Mawr Review of Comparative Literature

“These insightful essays constitute a well-designed and unified volume, which offers to specialists and nonspecialists some of the latest readings and interpretations of Ariosto and Tasso. Finucci did indeed bring together scholars whose innovative and thought-provoking contributions represent an invitation to reread and reconsider the Orlando furioso and the Gerusalemme liberata. Together they make an important and brilliant addition to the study of the Italian Renaissance.” — Gabriella Scarlatta Eschrich , Sixteenth Century Journal

“Most of the leading and well-known scholars of the Italian Renaissance are represented here with their sundry and complementary viewpoints. . . . The presence of so many different critical voices conveys a sense of this volume as a summa of current Renaissance criticism.” — Giuseppe Mazzotta, Yale University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Valeria Finucci is Associate Professor of Italian at Duke University. She is the author of The Lady Vanishes: Subjectivity and Representation in Castiglione and Ariosto and the coeditor of Desire in the Renaissance: Psychoanalysis and Literature.

Table of Contents Back to Top

Introduction: Ariosto, Tasso, and Storytelling / Valeria Finucci

I. Crossing Genres

Two Odysseys: Rinaldo's Po Journey and the Poet's Homecoming in Orlando furioso / Ronald L. Martinez

The Grafting of Virgilian Epic in Orlando furioso / Daniel Javitch

Tasso's Armida and the Victory of Romance / Jo Ann Cavallo

II. The Politics of Dissimulation

Epic in the Age of Dissimulation: Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata / Sergio Zatti

Trickster, Textor, Architect, Thief: Craft and Comedy in Gerusalemme liberata / Walter Stephens

"Un cosi valoroso cavalliero": Knightly Honor and Artistic Representation in Orlando furioso, Canto 26 / Katherine Hoffman

III. Acting Out Fantasies

The Masquerade of Masculinity: Astolfo and Jocondo in Orlando furioso, Canto 28 / Valeria Finucci

Romance as Role Model: Early Female Performances of Orlando furioso and Gerusalemme liberata / Eric Nicholson

"Dal rogo alle nozze": Tasso's Sofronia as Martyr Manque / Naomi Yavneh

Writing beyond the Querelle: Gender and History in Orlando furioso / Constance Jordan


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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2295-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2275-7
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