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Orlando Furioso: A Romantic Epic: Part 1 (Penguin Classics) (Pt. 1) Paperback – August 30, 1975


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Orlando Furioso: A Romantic Epic: Part 1 (Penguin Classics) (Pt. 1) + Orlando Furioso, Part Two (Penguin Classics) + Jerusalem Delivered (Gerusalemme liberata)
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (August 30, 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140443118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140443110
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 2 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #518,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)

About the Author

Ludovico Ariosto was born in 1474, the son of an official of the Ferrarese court. He first studied law, but later acquired a sound humanistic training. His adult life was spent in the service of the Ferrarese ducal family. Essentially he was a writer; his lifetime's service as a courtier was a burden imposed on him by economic difficulties. His fame rests on his major work, Orlando Furioso. The poem was probably begun around 1505. It was first published in 1516. The most important of Arisoto's minor works are five comedies, written for production in the Ferrarese court. Ariosto died in 1533.

Barbara Reynolds, retired lecturer in Italian at Cambridge University, holds three honorary doctorates. She translated Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso for Penguin Classics and finished Dorothy L. Sayers’s translation of Dante’s Paradise after Sayers’s death.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Laon on April 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
I may not have been the only person to have noticed how much the poetry improves in the last half of _Paradiso_ in the Dorothy Sayers translation. This is because Sayers died before completing the last of her translation of the _Divina Commedia_, and her devoted friend and admirer Barbara Reynolds took over. But where Sayers had been technically impressive in matching Dante's terza rima, but pedestrian in the poetry, at the point where (as I guess) Reynolds takes over a new lightness of touch and poetic feel for the language makes itself felt.
This Ariosto translation is Reynolds' great achievement. Moreover it is one of the three or four greatest literary translations in English, an achievement to stand beside Dryden's _Aeniad_ and Fairfax's _Gerusalemma Liberata_. (On Pope's _Illiad_, which I'm currently reading, I tend to agree with the contemporary reviewer who commented, "A very pretty poem, Mr Pope, but you must not call it Homer".)
She captures Ariosto's wit and lightness, occasionally turning in closing couplets for her stanzas that are as sharp as Byron's in _Don Juan_ (who was in turn also using Ariosto - among others - as a model), but also following Ariosto in allowing the sense to flow from stanza to stanza in a quite un-Byronic way. As well, she manages to transmit Ariosto's graver passages in equally dignified verse, for example some of the set pieces imitated (by Ariosto) from Homer. English readers tend to think of Ottava Rima as a vehicle for comic verse, but in Italian it is a model for epic. It's just that the great Italian epic tradition, unlike the English epic tradition before Byron's great anti-epic, includes humour.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 8, 1997
Format: Paperback
This renaissance romance combines elements of the adventure story along the lines of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy with satire in the tradition of Lucien, Ben Jonson, and Jonathan Swift. Barbara Reynolds' verse translation is well paced, easy to read, and displays a rich use of language. Be aware, though, that this is a two volume translation and the catalog, as of 1-9-97, shows only the first volume is available from Amazon. The prose translation from Oxford University Press is complete in one volume, but is not as easy to read in that it suffers from very small print and a language that is not as vigorous as that of the Reynold's translation.
J. D. Wilson, Jr.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ariosto was one of the giants of Renaissance literature, and this was his footprint. Grand, touching, funny, witty, stirring -- as Dryden said of Chaucer, here is the world's plenty. Some of the greatest poets of the next two centuries (Tasso, Spenser, Milton) explicitly attempted to overdo him, and only sometimes succeeded; Byron took as much from Ariosto as he did from Pulci.
But don't read this on that account. Read it because it's a delight from start to finish. War, love, and chivalry are the poet's themes, and they're here in all their forms.
I don't know Italian, but everyone I've asked who would know assures me Reynolds's translation captures not just the essence but the spirit of the original.
(Ignore the reviews that claim that this is a prose translation -- they are from another translation.)
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By SkookumPete on December 14, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I would have loved to have had the two volumes of this wonderful work on my Kindle, but ten minutes after downloading them I returned them for credit. They have no Table of Contents and almost no navigation marks for the five-way controller (or whatever the equivalent is on the keyless models), so forget about browsing. Even more disappointing is that the entire poem (not just the quotes in the introduction, which is all you get to see in the sample) has been set with a wide left margin, a huge waste of space that also causes lines to wrap unnecessarily. And when they wrap, they wrap to the same margin, which is just ugly.

Formatting narrative verse for the Kindle is really not difficult: you just create a paragraph style flush-left with a hanging indent. How can Penguin, a large publishing company with many Kindle editions, not know or care?

For that matter, it would make sense to combine the two books into a single e-book, for ease of searching on (for example) the names of the many characters. There's no reason not to do this on a device that never gets fatter. But here, as in so many cases, we get the impression that the Kindle edition is just a careless afterthought.

My rating is for the Kindle edition only. Unlike David Slavitt, who treats the poem as little more than a silly romp, Reynolds does full justice to its rich textures, not only in her learned yet very readable translation but in her prefaces and notes. The useful apparatus in the printed volumes includes running heads that summarize the action, detailed indexes that give a quick reminder of what the many characters have been up to, and even schematics of some of the battles and jousts. In paperback, this is a five-star production in every way.
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