Abstract

John Gay owes his macabre, comic episode of Doll the decapitated appleseller in Trivia to Lodovico Ariosto’s beheading of Isabella in Orlando Furioso (definitive evidence supplied). In both poets, the bouncing, severed female head figures an ideological contradiction, for Ariosto the place of the lady within the chivalric tradition, for Gay the poet’s position between the marketplace and the classical tradition. Gay also makes more grisly Virgil’s and Ovid’s dismemberments of Orpheus. Although his antecedents are literary, Trivia and Gay’s translations of Ariosto were composed as heads fell and his friends’ heads were threatened after the Jacobite rising of 1715.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6547
Print ISSN
0013-8304
Pages
pp. 447-463
Launched on MUSE
2003-06-18
Open Access
No
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