Providence, Irony, and Magic

Tobias Gregory

in From Many Gods to One

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2006 | ISBN: 9780226307558
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226307565 | DOI:
Providence, Irony, and Magic

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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This chapter deals with Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto. Orlando furioso does not abandon divine action of the characteristically epic type, though it infuses epic divine action with both irony and anxiety. There is also plenty of providentialism in the Furioso. The military plot of the Furioso is the Christian-Saracen conflict of Carolingian literary tradition. Ariosto also wrote the Cinque canti, first printed as an appendix to the Furioso in 1545. Cinque canti shifts the Furioso's balance of epic and romantic supernatural elements in the direction of epic. In the Furioso, Ariosto's view of divine providence is playful and optimistic when writing of the legendary past, anguished and uncertain when he turns toward the historical present. In the Cinque canti, he sets the story in a legendary past that bears closer resemblance to the historical present, and its supreme deity is not God but Demogorgon.

Keywords: Orlando furioso; Ludovico Ariosto; divine action; irony; providentialism; Cinque canti; divine providence

Chapter.  14942 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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