Lyric Augmentation and Fragmentation of the Italian Romance Epic in English Translations

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The translation and transmission of the Italian romance epics of Boiardo, Ariosto, and Tasso across linguistic and cultural boundaries also included genre reprocessing. This paper traces how Elizabethan translators and compilers of these texts tended to read epic lyrically, or to read the lyric into (and out of) the epic. For Elizabethan translators of the Italian Romance Epic—Sir John Harington, Edward Fairfax, and Robert Tofte, for example—this transmutation meant amplification or insertion of lyrical material, such as Fairfax’s enhancement of the Petrarchan subtext of the Armida Blazon in Book 4 of Gerusalemme Liberata and Robert Tofte’s injection of his own Petrarchan mistress Alba into Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato. Another trend, demonstrated by Robert Allott’s English verse anthology Englands Parnassus (1600), involved extracting lyrical fragments from the romance epic that function as stand-alone poems.


Chicago, IL

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