London: Richard Field, 1591. First English language edition. An exceptionally rare hand-colored copy, heightened in gold, of the first English translation, with fewer than 10 such examples known. Bound in modern full paneled calf to style. Stamped in gilt and blind, raised bands on the spine, all edges sprinkled red. Folio (pages 276 x 205 mm), printed on thick paper, collated complete (but for one leaf, recto: "An Advertisement to the Reader..." and verso, the illustration to the first canto): [8 leaves, including the title page], 423, [xi, comprised of a Table of Names, Contents & errata, and colophon leaf with verso blank]. Ruled throughout in red ink with vivid contemporary hand coloring throughout, including: the title page, illustrations (45 of 46), head and tail ornaments and the decorative borders and first letters. This copy with "Esquire" tipped in below John Harrington's name (as found in some copies). A magnificent copy, despite lacking one leaf.
One of the towering pinnacles of world-literature, in the rare first English translation. Ariosto first published the work (40 cantos) in 1516 in Italy, with the full 46 cantos only appearing in the third edition of 1532. Aristioso's work was and continues to be hugely influential. Indeed, one apocryphal story claims that Queen Elizabeth I banished the translator, John Harrington from Court, pending his completion of this translation. Such luminaries as Shakespeare, Milton, Cervantes, Spenser, Lord Byron, Lope de Vega, Jean de la Fontaine, Sir Walter Scott, Virginia Woolf, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, and Salman Rushdie can all claim direct influence from Ariosto (not to mention Vivaldi, Handel, Hayden, ect.).
“Orlando Furioso experiments wildly with tradition, stretching the chivalric world to its very limits, undoing its heroes, demolishing their beliefs, mocking their shortcomings... All its characters are uncharacteristically fallible and surprisingly human. And even if these heroes remain firmly embedded in a dazzlingly fantastic and chronologically remote dimension, Ariosto uses them to talk frankly to us, his readers, about our own desires and obsessions, our own failures and flaws, our own humanity." -- Dr. Claudia Rossignoli
Pforzheimer 447. (Item #1754)
Out of stock