The Gender Dynamics of Ariosto’s Tales of Women in Elizabethan England

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The most popular cantos from the Orlando Furioso in Elizabethan England center on the (in)fi delity of women. Cantos 5, 28, and 43 were appropriated, translated, or adapted in the following works: Peter Beverly’s Historie of Ariodanto and Jenevra, Sir John Harington’s Orlando Furioso in English Heroical Verse, Thomas Lodge’s Catharos, “The Squire of Dames’s Tale” in Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Robert Greene’s The Historie of Orlando Furioso, Robert Tofte’s Two Tales, translated out of Ariosto, and William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. No other cantos from the Orlando Furioso received this amount of literary attention in England, and this paper will explore why these writers were fi xated on these particular episodes, and how they transferred the embedded gender dynamics of these tales from the context of the Este court to their target culture.


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