See the famous 16th-century translation of Orlando Furioso by Sir John Harington, ed. by R. McNulty (1972), as well as the recent verse translation by B. Reynolds (2 vol., 1975); studies by B. Croce (tr. 1920, repr. 1966), R. Griffin (1974), and A. R. Ascoli (1987).
Ariosto, woodcut after a drawing by Titian from the third edition of Orlando elipsis
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The cardinal went to Hungary in 1518, and wished Ariosto to accompany him. The poet excused himself, pleading ill health, his love of study, the care of his private affairs and the age of his mother, whom it would have been disgraceful to leave. His excuses were not well received, and even an interview was denied him. Ariosto then boldly said, that had his eminence thought to have bought a slave by assigning him the scanty pension of seventy-five crowns a year, he was mistaken and might withdraw his boon--which it seems the cardinal did.
On account of the war, his salary of only 84 crowns a year was suspended, and it was withdrawn altogether after the peace. Because of this, Ariosto asked the duke either to provide for him, or to allow him to seek employment elsewhere. He was appointed to the province of Garfagnana, then without a governor, situated on the wildest heights of the Apennines, an appointment he held for three years. The place was no sinecure. The province was distracted by factions and banditi, the governor had not the requisite means to enforce his authority and the duke did little to support his minister. Yet it is said that Ariosto's government satisfied both the sovereign and the people given over to his care; indeed, there is a story about a time when he was walking alone and fell into the company of a group of banditi, the chief of which, on discovering that his captive was the author of Orlando Furioso, humbly apologized for not having immediately shown him the respect which was due to his rank.
In 1508 his play Cassaria appeared, and the next year I Suppositi.
In 1516, the first version of the Orlando Furioso in forty cantos, was published at Ferrara.
For example, in Canto II, stanza 30, of Orlando Furioso , the narrator says:
But I, who still pursue a varying tale,
Must leave awhile the Paladin, who wages
''A weary warfare with the wind and flood;
To follow a fair virgin of his blood.
Some have attributed this piece of metafiction as one component of the "Sorriso ariostesco" or Ariosto smile, the wry sense of humor that Ariosto adds to the text.
In explaining this humor, Thomas Green, in his critical work Descent from Heaven, says "the two persistent qualities of Ariosto's language are first, serenity - the evenness and self-contented assurance with which it urbanely flows, and second, brilliance - the Mediterranean glitter and sheen which neither dazzle nor obscure but confer on every object its precise outline and glinting surface. Only occasionally can Ariosto's language truly be said to be witty, but its lightness and agility create a surface which conveys a witty effect. Too much wit could destroy even the finest poem, but Ariosto's graceful brio is at least as difficult and for narrative purposes more satisfying".