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Hopeless Love

Hopeless Love: Boiardo, Ariosto, and Narratives of Queer Female Desire

  • Book Info
    Hopeless Love
    Book Description:

    Hopeless Loveuncovers the diffusion of queer female desire in Italian literature and promotes a better understanding of sexuality in medieval and Renaissance Europe.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9744-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-22)

    About halfway through Ludovico Ariosto’s romance epic,Orlando furioso(1532), Princess Fiordispina comes upon the sleeping maiden warrior Bradamante, mistakes her for a man, and immediately falls in love with her. Upon hearing the truth of Bradamante’s sex Fiordispina continues to try to seduce the unwilling warrior, but she despairs of ever satisfying her desire, declaring it to be unprecedented and impossible. When Bradamante’s identical twin brother, Ricciardetto, hears of Fiordispina’s desire for his sister, he sees his chance to take her place and sleep with the princess. Wearing his sister’s armour and claiming to be Bradamante miraculously changed into...

  5. 1 Warrior Woman/Lovely Lady
    (pp. 23-36)

    Bradamante is the maiden warrior to whose character Boiardo has added a new twist: she attracts the desire of another woman. The maiden warrior is part of a long tradition stretching from Greek epic’s Penthesilea and Virgil’s Camilla to the various incarnations of these Amazon and maiden-warrior types in circulation in medieval and Renaissance Italy in texts such as Boccaccio’sTeseida,L’Aspramonteby Andrea da Barberino, and Pulci’sMorgante. The elaboration of the maiden warrior in these texts contributes in important ways to Boiardo’s Bradamante. In this chapter I focus on the extent to which the maiden warriors of Italian...

  6. 2 To Disguise and Deceive
    (pp. 37-52)

    The motif of the cross-dressed woman as the object of female desire, which probably finds its origins in Ovid’s tale of Iphis and Ianthe in book IX of theMetamorphoses, is featured in numerous French and Italian medieval romances. Among these romances are some stories in which the cross-dressed woman is given a bride and is then miraculously changed into a man to fulfil the role of husband. Ovid’s tale also includes this element, although the motif of the sex change is given much more detail in medieval versions of the story.¹ The pre-eminent Ariosto scholar Pio Rajna rejects, for...

  7. 3 Stopping without Ending
    (pp. 53-67)

    Just after Boiardo’s death in 1494 a new edition of theOrlando innamoratowas published. This edition included the apparently unfinished book III, written after books I and II had been published together in 1487. In the last octave of this third book the poet puts a hasty conclusion to the work that had occupied much of his career:

    Mentre che io canto, o Iddio redentore,

    Vedo la Italia tutta a fiama e a foco

    Per questi Galli, che con gran valore

    Vengon per disertar non so che loco;

    Però vi lascio in questo vano amore

    De Fiordispina ardente a...

  8. 4 Concluding the Tale
    (pp. 68-99)

    While Ariosto’sOrlando furiosowas at the centre of literary debates in the second half of the sixteenth century, the period from 1505 to 1521 was dominated by Boiardo’s masterpiece, and theOrlando innamoratowas the focus of significant publishing activity.¹ Whilecantariand other texts of the chivalric romance tradition had always been manipulated – this was part of the way in which these texts were transmitted – the advent of print culture brought new pressures to bear on theOrlando innamorato. Initially minor poems were renamed so that publishers might profit from their association with other, more successful poems. For...

  9. 5 Queer Female Desire in Cinquecento Comedy
    (pp. 100-124)

    In chapter 4, I argue that theFurioso’s conclusion to theInnamorato’s suspended story of queer female desire is a salient moment in Ariosto’s competition with Boiardo, one in which the younger poet seeks to establish his superiority through the tale of Ricciardetto’s narrative intervention in Fiordispina’s longing for Bradamante. Although engaged most obviously and most directly with Boiardo’s poem, Ariosto’s Bradamante-Fiordispina story is also in dialogue with texts of thecommedia erudita, defined by Louise George Clubb as ‘the vernacular five-act drama with intrigue plot employing characters and situations developed from Attic New Comedy and from the Boccaccian novella...

  10. Epilogue
    (pp. 125-134)

    By the 1540s theOrlando furiosohad gained tremendous popularity and began to be republished constantly. As Daniel Javitch writes, ‘By the 1560s theFuriosohad become the most frequently reprinted work of Italian poetry, surpassing Petrarch’s bestselling and already canonicalCanzoniere. Between 1539 and 1570 at least eighty-five editions of theFuriosowere published.’¹ While earning profits for publishers, these many editions served to promote theFuriosoas a modern classic, and publishing and editorial efforts such as lavish editions, commentaries, and annotations, previously devoted to the epics of Homer and Virgil, were now devoted to Ariosto’s poem as...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 135-148)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 149-160)
  13. Index
    (pp. 161-165)