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Genealogies of Fiction

Women Warriors and the Medieval Imagination in the "Orlando furioso"

Eleonora Stoppino

Publication Year: 2011

Genealogies of Fiction is a study of gender, dynastic politics, and intertextuality in medieval and Renaissance chivalric epic, focused on Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando furioso. Relying on the direct study of manuscripts and incunabula, this project challenges the fixed distinction between medieval and early modern texts and reclaims medieval popular epic as a key source for the Furioso.Tracing the formation of the character of the warrior woman, from the amazon to Bradamante, the book analyzes the process of gender construction in early modern Italy. By reading the tension between the representations of women as fighters, lovers, and mothers, this study shows how the warrior woman is a symbolic center for the construction of legitimacy in the complex web of fears and expectations of the Northern Italian Renaissance court.

Published by: Fordham University Press


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pp. i-ii

Title Page and Copyright

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pp. iii-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

I have incurred great debts of gratitude in the years of work on this book. I would like to thank, first and foremost, Albert Russell Ascoli and Cesare Segre, who have guided me on different but intertwining paths of research and intellectual rigor....

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pp. 1-17

When Ludovico Ariosto wrote the Orlando furioso, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the northern Italian court of Ferrara was a vital center of humanistic and chivalric culture, and its lords, the Este, were enjoying unprecedented political prestige. In the city that had nurtured learned humanists such...

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Chapter One Marriage by Duel Genealogies of the Warrior Woman

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pp. 18-57

When the warrior heroine Bradamante appears for the first time in canto I of the Orlando furioso as an unknown white-armored knight, the effect may be lost on modern readers. The drama that her arrival achieves is not the same for us as for Ariosto’s contemporaries, because we can wonder who the knight is, even after...

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Chapter Two An Amazonian Past Female Rule and the Threat of Illegitimacy

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pp. 58-87

Bradamante, Marfisa, and the other female warriors that populate the Renaissance chivalric tradition, like Rovenza, Ancroia, Trafata, and Fanarda, or Pulci’s Antea, are all free agents, individual warriors that happen to be women. Like the warrior Camilla of Virgilian memory, they are members of an army, albeit...

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Chapter Three The Paradox of Helen Genealogies and Textual Hierarchies in Orlando furioso, Canto XXXIV

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pp. 88-115

Historians of the Renaissance in Italy have observed a consistent process of crystallization of male roles within the familial and social structures, paralleled by a multiplication of female roles:

The social interventionism of the early fifteenth-century state produced official definitions of the roles of men and...

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Chapter Four The Poem as a Prophecy Gendered Gifts in the Orlando furioso

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pp. 116-148

In the Western canon, genealogical prophecies are given to men, by men, and are about men. Dynastic knowledge is transmitted from fathers to sons, in a replication of the patrilineal nature of family trees. In the Aeneid, when Aeneas descends to the Underworld and receives prophetic knowledge of his future lineage, a...

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Chapter Five Externi Thalami: The Orlando furioso as a Nuptial Epic

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pp. 161-174

Weddings between members of the ruling classes were crucial events in the life of a Renaissance city. Carefully planned and lavishly funded processions, festive rituals, and celebrations stretched over months in palaces, churches, and streets. Every aspect of the marriage, from the bride’s abandonment of the paternal house to...

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Conclusion Mixed Genealogies: The Orlando furioso as Hybrid Text

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pp. 175-180

In the poem entitled “A Pio Rajna,” Eugenio Montale remembers his first and only meeting with the philologist (Montale 1977, 19). Rajna, “announced neither by the braying of oliphants nor by the clashing of Durendals,” appears to the poet as “one who made his nest among/ the interstices of the oldest sagas,/ almost...


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pp. 181-226


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pp. 227-254


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pp. 255-268

E-ISBN-13: 9780823249381
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823240371
Print-ISBN-10: 0823240371

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 821725647
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Genealogies of Fiction

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Ariosto, Lodovico, 1474-1533. Orlando furioso.
  • Ariosto, Lodovico, 1474-1533 -- Characters -- Women.
  • Ariosto, Lodovico, 1474-1533. Orlando furioso -- Sources.
  • Women in literature.
  • Amazons in literature.
  • Sex role in literature
  • Genealogy in literature.
  • Intertextuality.
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