Thursday, 15 February 2007

Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando furioso, secondo la princeps del 1516 (Florence, 2006)

Of great interest is the recent publication of the 1516 edition of Ariosto's Orlando furioso (Florence: Olschki, 2006), ISBN: 88 222 5576 1, edited by Marco Dorigatti. The text of the poem was first issued in 1516 but was extensively revised by the author and republished in 1532. This text, risciacquata in Arno, is the standard edition used today. The 1516 text is not widely witnessed and is extant in just 12 printed copies. Each is interesting because of Ariosto's tight and careful control of every aspect of the page, right down to typographical details. Dorigatti (a lecturer in the Faculty of Modern Languages at Oxford), after an extensive study of these witnesses, reconstructs this earlier text and makes available for the first time an Orlando that is considerably more Ferrarese than Tuscan. The later text was rendered less local, less provincial, and the Tuscan made it more widely popular (more palatable?). The publication of this new text makes it much easier now to study a masterpiece in the re-making and will surely become required reading for the study of Ariosto's reworking and rewriting of himself into Italian literary history.

At the Taylor Institution is a small exhibition to celebrate the publication of this new edition and it is well worth a visit. It contains some of the interesting early editions in the Taylor Institution Library's collection as well as some modern editions.

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