This essay challenges the view that the last part of Orlando furioso takes an “epic” turn and abandons many of the “romance” features that characterize its first half. The essay does so by considering (1) the anachronism of projecting onto the Furioso a desire on Ariosto's part to upgrade the romance with which he began to an epic poem, given that the differences between romance and epic that modern critics claim are at work in Orlando furioso did not come to the fore as issues in Italian poetics until about fifty years after the poem's first composition; and (2) the persistence of romanzo matter and structure in the poem's last nine cantos. Modern interpreters who maintain that the Furioso becomes more epic in its last segment cite as evidence the more frequent imitation of the Aeneid, but in fact Ariosto modifies the Virgilian matter he grafts into his narrative to fit the language and ethos of chivalric romance.
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Daniel Javitch; Reconsidering the Last Part of Orlando Furioso: Romance to the Bitter End. Modern Language Quarterly 1 December 2010; 71 (4): 385–405. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-2010-020
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