Liberating the Tomb: Difference and Death in <i>Gerusalemme liberata</i>

Albert Russell Ascoli

in A Local Habitation and a Name

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780823234288
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823241231 | DOI:
Liberating the Tomb: Difference and Death in Gerusalemme liberata

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This chapter focuses on a major work of the later sixteenth century, Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata, whose narrative arc is shaped by the felt need for the poem to free its characters and its author from the burden of history itself, staged through the quest to “liberate” the empty tomb of Christ—symbol of the transcendence of death and the abandonment of the world of history for a haven above and beyond time. That the poem is only able to reach the literal tomb, but not to pass beyond, is a sign of the author's anxious fear that such transcendence is as impossible as it is desirable. Such an interpretation is further confirmed by the poem's deliberate evocation of its place in a literary history that, in addition to its systematic transformation of the Virgil's pagan epic of imperial conquest, includes, on one hand, the overtly transcendent vision of Dante's Commedia and, on the other, Ariosto's fierce parody thereof in Orlando.

Keywords: Torquato Tasso; Gerusalemme Liberata; Jerusalem Delivered; Tasso and Virgil; Tasso and Ariosto; Tasso and Dante; epic and romance; death and the tomb; history and transcendence

Chapter.  10564 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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