Matteo Maria Boiardo: Orlando Innamorato [Orlando in Love] (1495)

Cavallo, Jo Ann

Written for a fifteenth-century Italian court society hooked on Arthurian romance but also attuned to current world events, Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato [Orlando in Love] charts a complex imaginary course in which characters from diverse cultures encounter one another in ways that range from armed conflict to friendship and love. Although knights and damsels from around the globe are gripped by a number of passions, such as erotic desire, anger, ambition, compassion, and the desire for glory or revenge, their actions are not based on either religious or ethnic differences. The narrative thereby breaks out of the polarization of Christians and Saracens typical of Carolingian epic, presenting a broader cosmopolitan vision of humankind consonant with ancient, medieval, and fifteenth-century historical and geographical texts that were capturing the attention of the Ferrarese court.

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March 24, 2015